May 15, 2009
Writer: Writer: Erica Colvin
Brigham Young University-Idaho's Dance Alliance performance group brought a message of hope to nearly 6,000 people during a multi-city tour of Russia April 11-29.
The traveling dance group consisted of 36 students and five advisors. As the group traveled through Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Saratov, Volgograd, and Rostov-na-Donu, they brought a message that reconnected audiences with emotions that may seem dormant and forgotten in the war-torn country of Russia.
"The show was about experiences in life: losing loved ones, reuniting, losing hope, regaining hope. The message was very close to their hearts," said Tadayoshi Sakota, a student and dancer with Dance Alliance. "There was something about the show that touched the Russian people in a way most professional shows can't."
Audiences throughout Russia experienced dance for all tastes. The show had something for everyone: energetic hip hop, graceful ballroom, and artistic contemporary numbers. "The audience response was overwhelmingly positive," said Brian Felt, tour director.
Gary Larsen, artistic director, shared that he loved to look out into the faces of audience members during the show. "The people were dumbfounded. The emotion was so strong, they didn't know what to do: clap, cry, laugh."
As each performance ended, the dancers were able to mingle with the audience. Although audience members couldn't communicate through language; Mackenzie Mitchell, Dance Alliance member, explained, "Their tears, smiles, and hugs said it all."
Proceeds from the shows went to non-profit groups: orphanages, rehabilitation centers for handicapped children, hospitals, children who have lost a parent. "These kids, who should be full of light and love, have seen too much of life already. We wanted to show them that we care," Larsen said.
With eight performances spread across Russia, Dance Alliance was well received and well worth the hard work, said Larsen. "So many times we are concerned with the bottom line: costs, liability, risks. But with this tour, there were doors that we were able to open that couldn't have been opened any other way. That is the bottom line for me," Larsen said.