BYU–Hawaii dance students celebrated the beginning of December by performing a recital of modern dance, which was their final exam.
Prior to the performance in the Aloha Center Ballroom, dance teacher Nina Foster said, “At the beginning of the semester, I gave my students a choice. They could either take a final exam in the classroom, or they could perform their dancing in the ballroom. They chose to serve, and I am very proud of them for making that decision.”
The students performing consisted of people from three of Foster’s dance classes. Wearing simple white T-shirts and black pants, they served the attendees of the concert homemade rice and noodle dishes, as well as pizza, which they all paid for themselves.
Abigail Nielsen, a freshman from Utah majoring in accounting, said, “I much prefer this to a regular final exam because one, it takes the stress out of doing an exam. And two, it gives us all an opportunity to show the school what we can do, and we get to have a good time.” She joked, “It’s the best test I’ve ever taken.”
When asked if hip-hop and modern dance had a place next to classical dance such as ballroom, Nielsen said, “I think hip-hop is just as important to learn as something like swing and the waltz. People just need to try it and loosen up a little bit.”
“The most enjoyable part of hip-hop dance class is the way people get to know each other,” Nielsen continued. “We are all like a big family. The first thing Sister Foster tries to teach us is to not compare ourselves to each other. It shouldn’t be a big competition. Dance is all about connecting with people through footwork. It’s basically a form of movement with a purpose.”
Ellie Cano, a freshman from Georgia majoring in exercise science, said, “Being in modern dance class helps everyone in it make really good friends and genuine relationships. We become completely transparent with each other, and it really helps us out on the dance floor. Our class is like a safe space that you feel you’re supposed to be in. I never felt like I had to go to class, I felt like I really belonged.”
After the dance students served the audience dinner, they began their dance performance. With a selection of dances performed to the tune of pop songs such as “Uptown Funk,” “Jingle Bells”, and “Treasure” by Bruno Mars, the choreography received thunderous applause from the audience.
The second-to-last dance performance was introduced by Foster. “This last song,” she began, “is See You Again by Charlie Puth. It is dedicated to my younger brother Josh, who passed away two years ago. It is also dedicated to anyone who has ever lost a loved one.”
The final performance was a dance featuring the entire dance group, to the tune of “Jingle Bells,” which received a standing ovation from the crowd.