The annual “Christmas Around the World” celebration at Brigham Young University featuring the International Folk Dance Ensemble will take place Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3-4, at 7:30 p.m. in the Marriott Center.
Tickets are available through the Marriott Center Ticket Office, (801) 422-2981, or at byutickets.com. Tickets cost $12, $15, $25 or $9 with a student ID. There will also be a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
This year’s theme will be “Celebrate!” and will feature more than 200 talented dancers, singers and musicians in colorful costumes. The group will perform dances and music from 17 countries across the globe, including Austria, England, Israel, Ireland, Mexico, Romania, the United States, Poland, Scotland, Spain and Ukraine.
“Each of these dances highlights a celebration from a different country,” said director Ed Austin. “We’re celebrating Christmas by bringing cultures together and helping people feel closer to their neighbors and their cultures. That’s really what Christmas is all about — coming together as God’s children.”
This year’s performance will also feature special guests Living Legends. The BYU-based group features pieces from Native American, Polynesian and Latin American cultures performed by descendants of these cultures and performed with traditional and contemporary music.
“Living Legends is almost like our sister organization,” Austin said. “They bring so much fun color and a true representation of their culture to the stage. They give some unique authenticity to our program.”
Mountain Strings, the musical ensemble for BYU’s touring Folk Dance Performing Arts Company, will also make a guest appearance.
“All the groups are wonderful,” Austin said. “They are going to bring down the house.”
The International Folk Dance Ensemble will begin with a collection of dances from the British Isles, including a Scottish sword dance. Two of the students, freshman Rylan Bateman and senior McKenzie Morrill, have studied Scottish dancing for most of their lives and will be performing the piece.
Another piece will highlight hundreds of students and local children in a “clogging frenzy,” according to Austin.
The ensemble will be highlighting new choreography from India, Colombia, Russia and Serbia.
“We are also featuring a live yodeler, Kerry Christensen, who will enliven our Austrian section with his amazing abilities,” said Austin.
“There really isn’t another program like this in the world,” Austin said. “We have dances from all across the globe and we have it right here. BYU has such a unique body of students from throughout the world, and now we can celebrate it together on stage.”
For more information, contact Ed Austin at (801) 422-3384 or visit pam.byu.edu/pam.asp.
Writer: Brandon Garrett