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Summer Dance Camp Succeeds Post COVID

After a year hiatus, BYU Dance Camps came back in full swing to learn new steps and benefit students of all ages

2021 brought the idea of hope to a lot of people and so far, it’s done a pretty good job at delivering. In summer of 2021, BYU discontinued the mandate on masks and social distancing. This change opened the doors to the BYU campus, one of which is the BYU youth camps.

This summer, camps like Especially For Youth (EFY) and sports were in full production. The line-up included in the roster of youth summer extracurriculars was a variety of dance camps. Because dance is an area that requires close interactions with multiple people, this camp had a big shift in 2020. But in 2021 reinstated summer dance camps.

Dance camps included Contemporary Dance, Ballroom, Cultural Dance, Theatre and the Young Ambassadors' Singing Entertainers (YASE) workshop.

Nathan Balser, director of Young Ambassadors and the YASE summer workshop was thrilled to have them back on campus. “It was great to continue our recruiting programs. The campers' energy and excitement to participate was palpable,” he said.

Living in a world affected by COVID-19, a lot of things now look or function differently. In order to comply with new regulations and protocols, the dance camps of this year had to adjust sizing and scheduling. “What’s interesting is that in those adjustments, we actually found some new procedures that we really like and will continue to implement in the future,” Balser said.

During the YASE camp, students learned vocal and dance skills. They also worked on integrating singing, dancing and acting techniques as well as the application of all three, which Balser said is very difficult. He said they also talked a lot about identity and purpose.

Balser and the counselors discussed questions like, “Why do we perform? Why do we build our skills? Who are we as performers and children of God? What does this all mean?” with the students. “The students who came to learn from the workshop felt like they found a place where they belong,” said Balser.

Not only do these camps benefit the young campers, but they also benefit the college students who are involved, Balser said. Current Young Ambassador students are employed to be counselors and choreographers. “They tell me they feel a sense of gratitude to be able to share and guide the campers throughout the week. It’s fulfilling to them,” Balser said of the university students.

In a year that served as a trial run of sorts, Balser said he learned things that can only benefit camp seasons to come. “I learned that we should definitely continue dance camps. I learned that featuring more campers in our performances is exciting and fulfilling, although challenging. And I learned that hiring excellent counselors and teaching artists is truly the key to the success of the camp.”