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BYU Dance Grads' Research Aimed to Make a Positive Impact on the Dance World

May 28, 2024 08:27 AM
Seven Dance Majors Presented Their Research in End of Year Symposium
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Preparation and Practice: Theatre Ballet’s Abby Wardle Discusses Her Debut in “The Sleeping Beauty”

February 27, 2024 12:50 PM
Abby Wardle Shares Her Journey From Theatre Ballet Studio Company to Theatre Ballet and Her Upcoming Performance of “The Sleeping Beauty”
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BYU Theatre Ballet Invites Audiences to Enjoy an Evening of Modern Ballet Classics

January 08, 2024 10:44 AM
Experience the Works of George Balanchine and Gerald Arpino in Theatre Ballet’s First Performance of Winter 2024
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Ballet Area Fosters Connectivity Through Ballet Showcase Company Rebrand

November 07, 2023 07:53 AM
BYU’s Department of Dance Renames Ballet Company
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A New Type of Ballet: “Art in Motion” Highlights Female Artists, Features Animated Projections

October 25, 2023 04:09 PM
3 Ballet Area Faculty Highlight 3 Female Painters in Their Immersive, Multimedia Ballet
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The Gerald Arpino Centennial Celebration: Theatre Ballet Dancer On Sharing the Light of Christ Onstage

October 06, 2023 02:15 PM
Maia McBride Shares Her Experience Dancing in Chicago
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World of Dance Celebrates 55 Years of Tradition in the Marriott Center

September 07, 2023 08:38 AM
After 55 Years in the de Jong Concert Hall, BYU Department of Dance’s World of Dance To Be Performed in Marriott Center and Off-Campus
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Premiering at November’s Ballet Showcase — New Collaborative Work “Robyn Hood”

November 01, 2022 11:51 AM
The Ballet Showcase Company Will Perform “Robyn Hood,” Created by Faculty and Students
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CFAC Experiential Learning: August 2022

September 08, 2022 06:00 PM
Students Across the College of Fine Arts and Communications Have Accepted the Invitation to Experience Learning Outside the Classroom
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BYU Alum Lands Her Dream Job Dancing for Disney

August 30, 2020 12:00 AM
After teaching and performing in Utah, Bronwen Merrill is pursuing her dance career in France Bronwen Merrill knew she wanted to dance for Disney Entertainment from the time she was 14 years old. “I had the next 10 years of my life planned out before I could even drive a car,” she said. But the BYU alum’s journey to her dream job turned out a lot different than she expected. Merrill grew up in Provo, raised by parents who taught her to appreciate the arts. She briefly took dance lessons at a young age, but it wasn’t until her mother took adult ballet classes and brought a 10-year-old Merrill along that she really fell in love with the art form. “I was totally hooked,” said Merrill. “I knew I wanted to study dance. I said to myself, after graduation I'm going to move to either Anaheim or Orlando, and I'm going to audition and get into Disney Entertainment.” When she met and married her husband at BYU, however, Merrill knew she had to reevaluate her post-grad plans. After graduating in 2017 with a Bachelor of Arts in dance, she moved to China with her husband, Jordan, to teach English for four months. Three days after their return, she joined BYU’s Department of Dance, teaching beginning ballet classes as adjunct faculty. “Teaching was something I never thought I would do, but it was a great way to build up my resume, stay close to the dance community and support my little family of two while Jordan finished school,” she said. Merrill also used this time to gain more experience onstage. She performed in Hale Center Theatre’s production of “An American in Paris,” as well as “Beauty and the Beast” at the SCERA Shell Outdoor Theatre. While her time at BYU helped her strengthen her technical base as a dancer, Merrill’s post-grad experiences onstage helped her grow as a performer. “I feel that I’ve developed a better sense of being able to get into a character and tell that character’s story,” said Merrill. “There can be a disconnect — especially with ballet dancers — because there’s such a focus on perfecting the choreography and the technique, it can be hard to focus on the story you’re trying to tell with the movement. It becomes more enjoyable for both the performer and the audience when those worlds can find a way to balance and combine.” Merrill and her husband moved to Florida, expecting to settle down, when a contract offer came from Disneyland Paris — literally a dream come true. “I was so excited, and then it suddenly became so stressful,” she said. “There were so many big changes we had to make: Jordan had to reevaluate his career path, we had to let go of our goal of homeownership, and we realized we had to sell everything we owned to move to France.” Merrill was hired on at Disneyland Paris as a character performer and parade dancer, where she finished her training right before COVID-19 closed the parks for four months. Now, she is able to perform at the parks — albeit at a distance from guests. “Being here and performing in any capacity is still very fulfilling, especially at a time when so many artists have lost their jobs or are waiting for things to open back up again,” Merrill said. “I’m really looking forward to when I get to dance down Main Street, USA for the first time.” While her experiences between graduation and Disney were never part of the plan, they expanded Merrill’s abilities as a dancer and were crucial to fulfilling her life-long dream. “Learning those skills was so important for me, and helped immensely at my audition for Disneyland Paris,” she said. “I don't think that I would have gotten as far as I did in the audition without those lessons about character work that I had post-graduation.” Throughout her journey, there were times when Merrill thought about giving up, but the experience has helped her realize the importance of following your dreams. “I just wish that more people believed in themselves enough to chase the dreams that they have,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy — a lot of the time it’s going to be really, really hard — but it’s so worth it. I just want to shout that message from the rooftops.”
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Share Your Story: #CFACGrad Anelise Leishman

June 19, 2020 12:00 AM
Anelise Leishman reflects on her time at BYU
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Ballet Showcase Presents Faculty Choreography in Fall Concert

November 07, 2019 12:00 AM
Ballet Showcase Company will present a broad range of styles in their fall concert Nov. 15-16 BYU’s Ballet Showcase Company — an auditioned performing group in the Department of Dance — will present their fall semester concert Nov. 15-16. The concert will feature a diverse collection of faculty works performed by the company, ranging from classical variations to comedic satire. “It’s not boring for a moment,” said company member Cassidy Wixom. “There’s such variety in it, and each piece makes you feel a different way. At one moment it’s exciting and happy, the next it’s more soft and subtle. There’s so much diversity, I feel like everyone can find something they like in it.” More than anything, the students enjoy the camaraderie and growth that comes from working hard and creating art alongside their peers. “One of my favorite things is seeing the growth and the process,” said student Chelsie Sherwood. “You can see in just the six to seven weeks we’ve been rehearsing how much we’ve grown together, and how much we’ve grown as individuals.” Read more at dance.byu.edu
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BYU’S BALLET IN CONCERT TO SHOWCASE SLEEPING BEAUTY AND SOUGHT-AFTER MODERN PIECES

February 22, 2019 12:00 AM
“Ballet in Concert” brings “Sleeping Beauty” and modern masterpieces by Balanchine and Arpino to audiences. The BYU Department of Dance hopes to introduce new fans to the splendor of ballet with the performance of “Sleeping Beauty” on Feb 28. “Ballet, by and large through the ages, has been removed from the general public,” said Shayla Bott, the concert’s artistic director. “You’re seeing dancers that move in a way that makes the general public think, ‘I can’t even walk like that, much less do what they’re doing.’ But, we really try to make it fun.” Read more here.
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BYU Dance Department Works to Create Positive Environments

February 12, 2019 12:00 AM
Dancers can struggle with eating disorders and perfectionism, but dancing environments can play a major role in helping dancers be mentally healthy. BYU dance professors are striving to make dance environments positive and healthy for dance students. While the need to be thin and “perfect” is a common mindset in the majority of the dance world, things are much different at BYU, according to BYU ballet administrator and BYU ballet artistic director Shayla Bott. Click here to read more.
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Benja Cuque Spends Six Weeks with Ballet West Dance Company

January 09, 2018 12:00 AM
By making the world his campus, Benja Cuque is using his training to bless the lives of others through dance
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BYU Theatre Ballet Train with World Renowned Ballet Expert

December 20, 2017 12:00 AM
Theatre Ballet dancers receive experiential learning through hands-on rehearsals with an Arpino masterwork
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Tuesday’s devotional dedicated to BYU premier dance groups

November 08, 2016 12:00 AM
Five of the Brigham Young University’s Department of Dance premier dance groups will perform during an assembly in the Marriott Center on Nov. 8 at 11:05 a.m. The Ballroom Dance Company, Living Legends, Theatre Ballet, the International Folk Dance Ensemble and Contemporary Dance Theatre will all perform. Each dance group will present choreography demonstrating how dance can be used to inspire, imagine, reflect, celebrate, remember or express with the theme of “Together, let’s dance—just for the joy of it.” “The assembly celebrates one of the cheerful ways we express our faith and hope through a variety of expressions of joy through dance,” said Marilyn Berrett, Department of Dance chair. Berrett also referenced the words of President Russell M. Nelson who recently spoke about joy in the October General Conference. “That’s it! Saints can be happy under every circumstance,” said Nelson. “We can feel joy even while having a bad day, a bad week, or even a bad year! My dear brothers and sisters, the joy we feel has little to do with the circumstances of our lives and everything to do with the focus of our lives. The BYU College of Fine Arts and Communications is home to the largest and most versatile dance department in the United States. For more than 50 years, BYU students have shared a spirit of joy with people worldwide through the creative expression of dance. Performances strive to benefit and support members of the Church in distant lands, and can be seen on campus throughout the year. The BYU Department of Dance is also pleased to present the BYU DanceSport Championships on Nov. 11-12, BYU’s dancEnsemble concert on Nov. 11-12 and the Senior Dance Projects Showcase on Nov. 19. Performance Date: Nov. 8 Time: 11:05 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Location: Marriott Center, BYU Price: Free
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BYU Department of Dance presents Ballet Showcase Nov. 4-5

October 26, 2016 12:00 AM
The BYU Department of Dance presents the Ballet Showcase Friday, Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 5, at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., in the Dance Studio Theatre of the Richards Building. The showcase features eleven BYU ballet dancers performing beautiful, engaging choreography by faculty and students in both classical and contemporary ballet. BYU’s touring company, Theatre Ballet, as the guest artists, will be presenting two ballets on the program also, one classical and one contemporary. 'The dancers face an extreme contrast in styles which is challenging their technique and artistry to the limit,” said Suzi Wood, artistic director. “They are definitely rising to that challenge, and by reaching inside themselves I think they are finding great personal growth emotionally, intellectually and spiritually as they have been using the talents they have been blessed with.' The showcase includes dance majors as well as a variety of other majors in the university and range from freshmen to seniors. There will be a wide range of styles from a couple of classical ballets from 1832 and 1845, and Petipa, through examples of the style of Balanchine neoclassicism to today's extreme contemporary ballet choreography. Performance Date: Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5 Time: 7:30 p.m. Location: Dance Studio Theatre, Stephen L. Richards Building, BYU Price: $6 Tickets
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