BYU Dance Ensemble Performs for Brussels Dignitaries and Visits the European Parliament

News Release

Recently, the International Folk Dance Ensemble from Brigham Young University (BYU) performed in Brussels, in a theatre full to capacity. Special guests included ambassadors, Members of the European Parliament, and other civic and religious leaders. The performance, “Journey, a world of dance and music,” offered the attendees an intercultural experience showcasing dances from Ireland, America, Ukraine, Southeast Asia and more.

 

This event was under the patronage of Ireland’s Ms Mairéad McGuinness, First Vice-President of the European Parliament, and hosted by the European Union (EU) Office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in partnership with Brigham Young University.

Preceding the performance, a reception was held for EU officials, diplomats and other special guests. Brief remarks were offered by Francesco Di Lillo, head of the Church’s office in Brussels, and by Jeff Ringer, Associate Vice President International Relations from BYU. Elder Massimo De Feo, General Authority Seventy and a member of the Europe Area Presidency for the Church, made the closing remarks.

Elder De Feo said, “As I see these wonderful young performers wearing traditional clothes and costumes, I am reminded of how different cultures and traditions make the world we live in a better, more interesting and beautiful place. These students set an example of unity, team work, and appreciation for all people; an expression of why we have all come together this evening.”

“Meeting with European delegates and religious leaders before our performance was so neat. Making connections with people from around the world—those with different backgrounds, cultures, and religious preferences—was one of my favorite parts!” said Heidi Comish, one of the BYU performers.

During the performance, the ensemble filled the stage with colour, rhythm and culture enriching the audience with excitement and nostalgia. To many, the evening was one of cultural exchange and discovery.

The group was accompanied by the acoustic band Mountain Strings which provided live, engaging music that synergised with the dancers’ performance. The International Folk Dance Ensemble has toured all over the world since 1964.

“It was a truly spectacular show. The dancers were all superb, and the band could go off and tour professionally tomorrow!” said Amy Shepherd, Europe Advocacy Manager from Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

The following day, the ensemble visited the European Parliament and were given a tour of the associated buildings, including the Plenary Hall. Additionally, they participated in a photo-op with First Vice-President McGuinness who congratulated the group and praised them for the positive values they shared through their dances. During this private meeting, the BYU students also performed for Ms McGuinness including an a-cappella version of “The Irish Blessing.”

“While at the European Parliament I enjoyed seeing how so many countries and their leaders can come together to make the world a better place. I really felt a sense of genuine concern for those around the world while meeting with the First Vice President McGuinness, who showed us so much love” said Isaiah Vela, one of the BYU performers.

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