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DancEnsemble provides experiences in performance and choreography for students who have an interest in contemporary modern dance. Within the context of the Contemporary Dance Program, dancEnsemble’s three fold mission is to:

1) Develop and refine the student’s choreographic vision and voice;
2) Expand and refine the student’s ability to be an engaging, expressive performer; and
3) Develop and increase in its members a sense of professionalism through participation in rehearsals and performance.

Although dancEnsemble’s mission is largely centered on developing student choreography, its members also have the opportunity to work with faculty and guest choreographers. The chance to work with professionals who are creating or restaging a work is an important educational experience. This modeling process increases the student’s own creative awareness. dancEnsemble produces two concerts each year – fall and winter semester, but other appropriate performance opportunities may arise. These opportunities will be evaluated and moved froward by the faculty artistic director, the division administrator, and the department chair, if they are consistent with the divisions mission, which are: to provide significant educational experiences for the students and foster a positive image of contemporary dance at the university, in the community, and beyond.

In alignment with the Aims of a BYU Education, dancEnsemble seeks to: spiritually strengthen its members by creating an environment where faith and gospel principles can be fostered in and through the choreographic process; intellectually enlarge its members by immersing them in processes through which they deepen their performing and choreographic skill and practice communicating meaning and intent through their art; build character by providing situations where both interpersonal and intrapersonal skills are developed.

As students work closely with one another creating dances, they learn to work with integrity, develop appropriate work habits, and understand the value of compassion. They create a harmonious rehearsal environment where their fellow students can grow, and cultivate a spirit of lifelong learning and service in its members by encouraging them to share their discipline in engaging ways with others. Involvement in dancEnsemble helps students to understand that the skills of choreography and performance are life skills that can and ought to be used in solving problems and in creating a life filled with possibilities for growth and service.


The original group, Orchesis (a name which means "dance arts" in Latin), was sponsored and organized in 1948 by Norma Rae Arrington. Over the next thirty years, directors and advisors of the group included Shirlene Oswald, Maida Rust, Karen Grimmett, Diane Chatwin, Gerrie Glover, Shirley Ririe, Robert Opliphant, Sara Lee Gibb, and Dee Winterton. In 1976, Orchesis combined with the Modern Dance Ensemble, a similar dance group at BYU, and remained under the name Orchesis.

In 1980, Orchesis officially became dancEnsemble, and was under the direction of Cathy Black. Pam Musil was the director of dancEnsemble for five years. The current artistic director of the group is Graham Brown.


In 2011, under the direction of Pam Musil, dancEnsemble completed the Heloise Crista Project, funded by the Laycock Center for Creative Collaboration in the Arts. Over sixty-five students and faculty members traveled to Arizona to study the artwork of Heloise Crista. They interviewed her and discussed her sculptures, after which they choreographed and performed a dance concert based on Crista's different art pieces.

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