For the first time in several years, Brigham Young University’s International Folk Dance Ensemble will perform in Idaho Falls.
The ensemble has provided students with the chance to perform and share dance styles from around the world with audiences for decades. Saturday’s show, entitled “Journey,” was brought to Idaho Falls by the local chapter of the BYU Alumni Association. Regional alumni chair Robert Devine said it had been more than 20 years since the ensemble last performed in eastern Idaho.
“They get booked out very far in advance so we’ve been working on this concert for at least a year,” Devine said.
The show will be a homecoming of sorts for the performers from the Idaho Falls area. Rexburg native Andrew Schaat was part of the Idaho Ballroom Academy in high school but was not planning to continue dancing at BYU until his friend’s wife encouraged him to audition.
Schaat made the backup team that year and has been part of the main ensemble for the past two years. He said Saturday will be the first and last performance in Idaho Falls and the only time much of his family will have seen him perform.
“It will be great to travel back to my home state and perform for people that I know,” Schaat said.
The current ensemble features 28 student dancers, split evenly between men and women, and a small band that plays live music to accompany the dancers. Schaat will perform seven dances as part of Saturday’s show, from American-influenced clog dancing to more traditional styles from Mexico and Ukraine. Other students will demonstrate dances from other cultures spanning the world, with only short musical breaks from the ensemble’s band between the dance numbers for costume changes.
Both the main performers and the backup group visit schools in the region for concerts but only the ensemble fully embraces the “international” part of their name. Previous BYU students were part of the 1988 Olympics in South Korea and this summer’s group will travel to China.
Schaat visited three countries in Europe with the group last summer, where they performed for European Union politicians at a concert in Belgium and as part of an international parade in Poland. He remembered that parade as a highlight of the trip because they were able to experience some of the cultures they were imitating on stage.
“It was cool to perform these dances we know for people that are from where that dance comes from. It gave us an instant connection,” Schaat said.
International Folk Dance Ensemble will perform “Journey” at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range between $15 and $30 in advance and are $5 more expensive at the door, with all profits going toward grants for local students who attend BYU. To purchase tickets, visit the Idaho Falls Arts Council website or call them at 208-522-0471.