Dance recital features inexperienced students with theme of learning to fly, says director

Written by: 
Brooklyn Redd

Director Nina Foster, a BYUH dance instructor and choreographer, led a dance concert featuring students and interns of all skill levels for the dance concert “Butterfly” on May 10 in the McKay Auditorium.

Foster said she was moved to create the dance by her 5-year-old son. She said one day she asked him why he was sad and he replied, “I can’t fly.” She said her older children told him they would help him to fly.

Foster said she immediately ran with the new idea. “When someone loves you, they inspire and help you to fly. You can’t do it alone. I want the students to see that they did something they never thought they could do,” she said. Foster said she wanted to help her performers and students to also fly.

The event started with a video presentation showing the work and hours of practice students put into preparing for the event. In big bold letters the video started off saying, “22 students, 13 nations, one choreographer.” 

The video continued with words such as “Dedication, teamwork, endurance, and enjoyment” as it showed performers working together with trust falls, tears, and laughter.

In the end of the video, students shared their love and appreciation for Foster along with their excitement to perform.

Following the video, Foster appeared on stage wearing a long blue sparkly mermaid-like dress beginning the event with a personal story about Ray Cheng and his experience of performing for the first time.

Ray Chang, a student on an internship from Taiwan, said this was his first time performing. He said he was given an unexpected opportunity; when he was trying to find the bathroom, Foster invited him to come and practice dancing with them. “At first, it was hard, but everyone was so patient to help. It was fun,” he said.

Since beginning dance classes at the start of the semester, Chang said he has lost 40 pounds because they would practice 15 hours every week.

“Standing on stage was a good experience for me,” said Chang. “It gave me confidence. I can do impossible things. I am so happy Nina stopped me at the bathroom.”

Fang Su (Suzie), an intern from China and one of the performers, said, “I really enjoyed dancing, and I feel healthier than before. It was wonderful performing on stage.”

Su and Chang said they aren’t members of the LDS Church, but after seeing everyone pray during practices and before the performance, it helped them to understand the power of prayer. “Everyone tries their best and we help each other,” said Su.

From performing hip-hop to ballet, and Tahitian to Bollywood, Foster’s performers said they never imagined themselves dancing.

In the Bollywood performance, all the BYUH student performers wore black and held colorful Indian scarves as they waved them like a flag while running around in a circle.

Students performed to a variety of well-known songs such as “The Greatest,” by Sia,  “You’re the One that I Want,” from the musical “Grease,” and “Cotton Eyed Joe,” by Rednex.

Before each dance, emcee Esther Canadari, a senior majoring in art from Hawaii, related the dances that would be performed to the theme and title “Butterfly.”

She said, “As butterflies go with flowers, music goes with dancing. Since music has been around, which is forever, there have been dances to go with it.”

Candari said, “We have picked some of these songs and dances that have stood out in the ages and put them together in one big mash-up for you.

“Even though these songs are different and have come from a different time, they are here to achieve one purpose, and that purpose is to bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart.”

The crowd cheered loudly and awed as they saw Foster’s three children perform to a variety of different dances. Foster’s 8-year-old daughter, Sophia Foster, was described by Candari as being “a beautiful little ballerina.” She will be going to Paris this summer to study at the Mariah Ballet School, according to Candari.

Sophia wore a red and white striped tutu while dancing on stage with BYUH students to the song “Shake Senora” by Pitbull.

Her 11-year-old brother, wearing a matching red shirt and black pants, accompanied her and performed a ballroom dance as he spun her around followed by her performing the splits.

Foster’s children danced to a dubstep version of “Fur Elise,” wearing matching costumes while performing a mix of hip-hop and ballet. The audience cheered excitedly when the music changed and the 5-year-old sibling came out wearing sunglasses, dancing to the song “Daddy” by Psy.

BYUH students performed dance moves such as the worm, twerking, shaking their hips, and flipping their hair.

The auditorium was packed with students who laughed and cheered as the dancers performed. Audience members said they enjoyed the performance and were astonished to find out a lot of their peers performed for the first time.

Students who watched the performance said the dancers were incredible, enthusiastic, and even some said they took interest to joining the classes next semester. 

Shane Fukino, a senior from Hawaii majoring in business management, said, “You can tell the dancers [were] enthusiastic and really liked what they did. It was really fun and I didn’t mind the emcees this time. They were more natural.”

The emcees kept the crowd laughing with their jokes. Davisson De Oliveira, a computer science major from Brazil, co-emceed with Candari and performed in some of the dances. The crowd was surprised when Oliveira made an unexpected proposal to Candari.

Oliveira, while laughing, said the proposal was actually fake during an interview after the concert. “I found a flower at the back of the stage and asked Esther if I could borrow her ring,” he said. Audience members said they were unsure of the authenticity of the proposal, but said it definitely kept them entertained.

Oliveira said, “I didn’t know I could dance any of the dances. I only know Latin dance. I saw a lot of the performers struggling at first, but we all helped each other make it through.”

Viliami Fifita, a freshman political science major from Tonga, said this was also his first time performing in Foster’s event. He said he always “loved to dance, but needed someone to teach him,” and Foster became that mentor.

Fifita said Foster was the best teacher and felt he wouldn’t have been as good if it wasn’t for her. “Her compassion helped me to continue even though at first I felt unsure,” he said.

Toward the end of the performance, all the performers, including the three children, wore white while dancing to a cover of David Archuleta’s song “Glorious” by One Voice Children’s Choir. In the performance, the BYUH students started off sitting on the stage acting confused and lost as the children came in smiling and touching each student, giving them a sense of hope and purpose as they stood up and performed with energy. Sophia was lifted in the air by a student to make it look like she was flying.

Foster said she plans to have another event next year. She continues to also teach dance classes on campus such as Modern Dance (EXS 186), Hip-Hop (known as Intermediate Dance for Theater, EXS 288), and Advanced Dance (EXS 289R).

Date Published: 
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Last Edited: 
Thursday, May 25, 2017