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Opening ceremonies

BYU performing groups on the world stage

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PROVO, Utah — Students from three BYU performing groups — Ballroom Dance Company, International Folk Dance Ensemble and Living Legends — will participate in the opening ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics Feb. 8.

"We are delighted for the students to have this opportunity," said Edward Blaser, director of BYU Performing Arts Management.

Knowing the vast talent at BYU, he approached Olympic organizers last year and invited them to BYU to watch the groups. An invitation to participate in the opening ceremonies and other events soon followed.

"Seeing the groups perform is what really sold [Olympic organizers]," he said. "They were really impressed."

Although the more than 100 students involved cannot talk in detail about their role in the opening ceremonies, Brother Baser said they will showcase interpretations of Native American, Polynesian, Latin, folk and international culture.

Fili Sagapolutele, a member of Living Legends who is of Samoan descent, said the event will be an opportunity to share his culture with a worldwide audience.

Brother Baser said participation in the Olympics events was so important that BYU canceled its mid-semester performing tours so students would be available. "This is an opportunity to perform for a lot of folks in our home that we normally wouldn't reach," he explained.

In addition to participating in the opening ceremonies, Living Legends and the International Folk Dance Ensemble will perform at the Medals Plaza and for the athletes at the Olympic Village.

Other BYU groups — Young Ambassadors, Cougarettes, Dancers' Company, Folk Music Ensemble, Theatre Ballet, Men's Chorus, Chamber Orchestra, Jazz Legacy Dixieland Band, Synthesis, Vocal Point, Wind Symphony and Young Company — will perform at Olympic Square and at numerous additional Olympic venues. The BYU Philharmonic Orchestra, along with university students from other schools, is prerecording music that will be played at the closing ceremonies.

More than 400 BYU students will also take part in the 90-minute production "Light of the World" being sponsored by the Church at the Conference Center during the Olympics.

Following the Games, BYU student performers will take part in the opening ceremonies of the Paralympics.

E-mail: sarah@desnews.com