If you are going to

What: Brigham Young University International Folk Dance Ensemble ‘Voyage’

When: 7-8:30 p.m. March 9 (Longmont) and March 16 (Loveland)

Or: Longmont High School, 1040 Sunset St., Longmont and Thompson Valley High School, 1669 Eagle Dr., Loveland

Cost: $ 12

More information: tix.byu.edu

From Irish jig to American clogging to Polynesian hula, the world is home to a wide range of cultural dances, alongside so many touring dance groups dedicated to performing the dance styles. But while most dance groups typically specialize in a particular type of dance, providing a piece of the global dance puzzle, the Folk Dance Ensemble at Brigham Young University performs styles from around the world.

“We can kind of take our audience on a little journey so that they can experience costumes, music and dancing from all over the world,” said Isaiah Vela, a second year dancer with the ensemble. “We do everything. “

This is despite the fact that the dancers in the ensemble are not professionals, but college students at BYU. The ensemble, which tours around the world, includes 28 leading dancers from BYU’s global dance program and seven musicians. The group will be making tour stops at Loveland and Longmont in the coming weeks.

The program began in 1956 when a BYU instructor began teaching various international dance styles to students and helping them book shows in the area.

It has since grown into a rigorous dance program that offers its participating students, who are now around 120, classes in several dance styles. Students across the board are required to devote at least nine hours per week to practice (and sometimes significantly more).

As part of the training, students take advanced classes in several different international dance styles in order to not only learn the steps and skills involved in each style, but also to develop an understanding and appreciation of the different cultures that they will represent. Ireland, Ukraine, Hungary, Serbia, India, China, Indonesia, Mexico and Russia are among the countries that will be represented by dance styles in upcoming shows in the region, titled “Journey,” said ensemble artistic director Jeanette Geslison. .

“There is so much diversity in the shapes that we bring that I think no one is going to be bored,” said Geslison. “If someone doesn’t like one piece, they will necessarily like the next one. And the mood is constantly changing because of all the different cultures we represent. “

Although the performance of so many varied dance styles is very rigorous in itself, the intensity continues offstage where the dancers are constantly changing costumes that represent each style.

“I always say it can be almost as fun to be backstage as it is to watch the show,” Geslison said, “because people are always out there frantically trying to change costumes. there is always a lot going on. “

But these costumes, which Geslison says are either purchased in the countries they represent or created by members of the group from careful research, are a special aspect of the show.

“Seeing all of these authentic costumes is a very unique experience,” she said.

The ability to learn more about the culture while using costumes and dances to share with a larger audience is what makes the experience rewarding – despite the intense engagement – said Vela.

“I really appreciate being able to share this love and appreciation for all of this culture with people,” he said. “Most people never experience something like this. “

It is also gratifying, said Vela, to be able to perform the Mexican dance Veracruz.

“I’m half Mexican, so I love the pride and joy I get to dance to something from my own culture,” he said. “It’s a very fun style.”

The show, however, is one that Geslison says will appeal to people of all ages and cultures.

“I think most people will find it worthwhile to take a few hours to come and see the exuberance of the students and the hard work they have put in,” she said, “and do the experience a bit of a taste of the world around us, all in one place.

Paul Albani-Burgio: 970-699-5407, [email protected]