Brigham Young University's touring dance ensemble groups are taking the stage tonight through Saturday as the Department of Dance presents its annual "World of Dance" event. The consistently sold-out show draws thousands of viewers yearly.

The reason it's so popular with audiences?

"It's because of the variety," said Marilyn Berrett, chair of the Department of Dance. "This is the only time when all of these high-level performing groups are on stage together in the same performance."

Those performing groups travel around the nation and abroad, and include BYU's Ballroom Dance Company, which recently returned from a tour in Thailand and Vietnam; the International Folk Dance Ensemble, whose repertoire includes music and dance from North America, Western and Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East; Theatre Ballet, whose dancers devote 18 hours a week to training; and Contemporary Dance Theatre, featuring a style ranging from concert contemporary dance to hip-hop. Also included in this year's program will be a special number from BYU's tap dance ensemble.

Each of the groups' unique styles, which are as varied as the myriad countries they perform in, will be exhibited in "World of Dance."

"There really is a stretch in this show from very unique kinds of choreography that is cutting edge, to classical styles that have endured and are beloved by generations," said Berrett. "There's something for the person that's never seen dance and something for the aficionado."

Pat Debenham, artistic director of Contemporary Dance Theatre, said "World of Dance" is a fast-moving show featuring changing styles to keep you visually involved and entertained.

" 'World of Dance' is always a wonderful and delightful kaleidoscope of dance," Debenham said. "It's always turning and switching points of view, and always letting you see the world and possibly yourself through the dance that's on stage."

As one of this year's features, Contemporary Dance Theatre will perform an award-winning dance from guest choreographer and India native, Ivan Pulinkala. The dance, entitled "Chakra," explores the seven chakras (main energy centers of the body) celebrated in Indian culture.

"The seven chakras are about finding balance in life," said Debenham. "The piece moves between imbalance and balance" -- a concept demonstrated by using a structure of two trampolines for the dancers to move on.

"They jump on and off the trampoline, they run across it, they hang on it," Debenham said. "I think one of Ivan's points is there's so much going on in the world that has the potential to push us over the edge, that we need to find ways of bringing ourselves back to center. That's what this piece does."

And for BYU's dance groups, "World of Dance" is one way they center and find balance together -- and show off a little of their talent at the same time.

"This show," said Debenham, "allows the Department of Dance to feel unified and to say, 'One of the things we do is dance, and we dance really well.' "

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!