One of BYU’s longest-standing Christmas traditions returns with new choreography, a pre-concert market and lots of Christmas spirit.
Christmas Around the World has become synonymous with the Christmas season on BYU campus. As Jeanette Geslison, artistic director of the concert, said, “It’s become a tradition, not just here at BYU, but in the community.” However, this year the concert is encouraging students and audiences to reach beyond Brigham Young University.
“This year our title, as always, is Christmas Around the World, but our subtitle is Beyond,” said Geslison. “One of my initial ideas was to teach the students who are part of this production that there is more to the program than what happens in the Marriott Center that weekend.”
In an increasingly global world, Christmas takes on new meaning. “We seem to be looking more outwards at this time of year and to be looking more globally in this world that we’re living in,” Geslison said. “Nowadays, we all know someone from a different culture. What a wonderful opportunity this is to get to know more about this world we live in.”
Christmas Around the World is introducing multiple new pieces this year in the pursuit of helping dancers go “beyond” in new ways. One dance, “Veracruz,” was set just a few weeks ago by guest choreographer Miguel Pena and introduces Mexican dance to the mix. Another dance, “Bucheachum,” adds Korean fan dancing to the concert and gives student Cassidy Brown the chance to “go beyond” in a new way.
“She’s an anthropology major and that’s what led her to Korea in the first place,” said Geslison. “She’s a beautiful dancer, so she combined her interest in anthropology and dance by doing research in traditional dance. We’re really excited for her to share what she’s learned.”
Christmas Around the World will also continue to host a christmas market in the Marriott Center before the concert. This way, audience members are given the opportunity to go beyond being passive in their interaction with the cultures being represented. They can eat and participate too. The market will also include a photo backdrop, complete with dancers dressed in the traditional clothes they’ll be wearing during the concert.
“We will have a few different vendors that will be there selling roasted nuts, crepes and some Christmasy things,” said Geslison. “We’ll also have some activities for audience members. We try to have different ones each year. For example, last year we had some Philippine tinikling poles up in the concourse. Audiences were not only able to see it onstage in the performance, they were also able to actually try it.”
One other way Geslison hopes the concert will reach above and beyond this year is in the scope and variety of its audience.
“I would hope that people on the other side of the point of the mountain would find it worth it to drive down for the concert,” she said. “We have a lot of people from Utah Valley coming to the concert, but I want to invite people from the Salt Lake Valley and beyond to make the trek to the Marriott Center.”
Christmas Around the World will take place at the Marriott Center on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1. Tickets to the concert are available at the ticket offices in the Harris Fine Arts Center and the Marriott Center, as well as at arts.byu.edu.