Daryl Olsen (Folk Dance Festival Committee Chairman) andDonna Benfield (Rexburg Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director) discuss the festival.
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The Opening Ceremonies of the Idaho International Dance and Music Festival are a combination of ceremony and show and take place in the football stadium of Brigham Young University-Idaho campus.
The ceremony begins with a grand entry of each team parading past the gallery of people in an Olympic type tribute to each dance group participating.
The teams are then seated on the football field facing the audience in the stadium. Team representatives move at the appropriate time to the front of the viewing stand while their national anthem is played. Then they greet the governor of Idaho or his representative for a formal gift exchange. At the end of the presentation the team represented does about a ten minute demonstration of their countries dance.
When all the teams have had their opportunity to perform a firework salute is fired for each team. Then there is a fifteen minute of colorful fireworks display accompanied by the Festival theme song, “Coming to America,” by Neil Diamond along with other appropriate music. The Opening Ceremonies are considered to be the premier event of the Festival.
An International Parade is an integral part of the Idaho International Dance and Music Festival. It is held during the late morning of the same day as the Opening Ceremonies. Dance teams pick their best and most colorful costumes for this festive event.
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Main Street of Rexburg is cordoned off from traffic as the parade moves through the throngs of onlookers. The teams stop at designated spots and do a short number from their considerable repartee. The parade is the beginning of the International Street Festival.
The main performances of the Idaho International Dance and Music Festival are the meat and potatoes of the whole festival. There are two night performances held in the Hart Auditorium of the BYU-Idaho campus.
The dancers perform to nearly sold out shows at all of these opportunities. The performance begins with a march around the basketball floor of the dance teams in their colorful costumes to the theme song of the Festival, “Coming to America,” by Neil Diamond.
Then they each dance for a total of ten minutes split into two sections. This makes the program run between 1 1/2hours to 2 hours. The finale mixes the dancers about the floor in a dazzling display of color and motion to the song, “Love In Any Language.” It is a very emotional show.
On the last day of the Festival the dancers, host families, and community members gather in the local park for a closing ceremony. Gifts are exchanged between the teams and the Festival/Chamber of Commerce. Then each team is given time to sing, play, and bring the local patrons into a dance of their choosing. It is a gala event and very popular among the dancers and others in attendance.