The Olympic Games in Seoul and their accompanying festivities loom large on the schedule for the Brigham Young University International Folk Dancers during the next couple of months.
The Dancers will climax an Oriental tour by performing along with 11 other groups on Sept. 17 for the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, in the main stadium in Seoul, Korea. So far as DeLynne Peay (co-director with Ed Austin of the Folkdancers) knows, it's the first time that folklore groups will be so featured.Getting in the Olympic spirit right here in Salt Lake City, the International Folk Dancers will perform on Wednesday, preceding the opening of national gymnastic tryouts for the United States Olympic team. On the plaza in front of the Salt Palace at 4 p.m., interested viewers may see a sampling of their Olympic show (all American dances), plus an international segment featuring Spanish flamenco, Israeli, Hungarian and Ukrainian dances.
But preceding their Seoul appearances, the dancers will cover a lot of territory. The forty members of the International Folk Dancers' Performing Arts Company will leave the U.S. on Aug. 12 for more than a month's tour throughout the Philippines, Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China and Taiwan. Then the authorized allotment of 24 dancers will continue on to Seoul, where they will be joined by a six-piece bluegrass band from BYU, to tour as part of the 1988 Seoul International Folklore Festival, Sept. 10-18.
Twelve foremost folk dance/music ensembles will present this international gala. Besides the BYU dancers from the U.S. (the only troupe from North America), countries participating are France, Hungary, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Turkey.
"We will split up into three groups, and tour Korea," said Peay. "We will be with the dancers from Turkey, Senegal and Poland. Our dancers especially look forward to making friends with the Poles, who are so easy to interact with. We will dance in three cities, including Pusan and Taegu, and in Uijomgbu, where the Olympic torch that will be carried around the country will rest overnight. Then we will return to Seoul for a mass program on Sept. 16."
Mary Bee Jensen, who founded the BYU Folk Dancers, is U.S. delegate to the sponsoring CIOFF (the Council of International Organizers of Folklore Festivals), and she will be in Seoul with the dancers.
"When they knew they were going to Seoul, some of our dancers went to Calgary for the winter games, just to experience the spirit of the Olympics," Peay continued. "They are excited to go and represent the school, their church and American dance."
Among the past year's touring activities was a trip in April for 46 dancers, to the Two Rivers Festival in Binghamton, N.Y., for which IBM picked up the tab - a junket they earned by word-of-mouth recommendation. "People often remark, why are the dancers always smiling?" said Peay. "It's because they are happy, they love life, and they like to share their talents."
Projected for next summer are two international tours by two groups, one going to the Soviet Union, Poland and England, the other to Japan.