Dance festival features 800 youth

Young adults prove through dance, song they 'can do anything with excellence'

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Sister Elaine Dalton, second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, and Elder Marcus Nash, an Area Seventy, were special guests at a Washington, four-stake dance festival July 23, that featured some 800 youth dancers, more than 100 primary children, and the BYU Ballroom Dance Team, in two performances at McKenzie Stadium here.

"You have shown today you can do anything with excellence," Sister Dalton told the youth of the Vancouver, Vancouver West, Longview, and Centralia stakes in a short speech immediately following the dress rehearsal the day of the performances. "Can one righteous young man or young woman change the world? Yes! You can and you will. The ripples of a righteous life can be felt throughout the world."

The ripples of Dance 2005, "O Come Ye Nations of the Earth," were felt throughout the community. Nearly 8,000 people attended the afternoon and evening performances. Two major newspapers, the Oregonian and Columbian, also featured colored pictures and stories about the festival on the front of their community sections.

"We did all we could do and then Heavenly Father took over," said Dennis Hill, regional dance festival director, of the production that had been nine months in the making and involved more than 500 volunteers in addition to the performers. "You have a dream and a vision and then to see it happen and feel the spirit of it was majestic and overwhelming."

The festival, which celebrated the 175th anniversary of the Church and 200th birth of the Prophet Joseph Smith, honored the Church's heritage and worldwide diversity. It began with a grand parade featuring flags from around the world, colorful banners, and a stadium full of costumed youth marching in. A patriotic tribute featured 13 young men carrying a massive flag 20 x 30 feet and additional young men bearing 150 smaller American flags.

The performance by the Washington youth was interspersed with lively numbers by the BYU Ballroom Dance Team who traveled from Provo to be part of the festival. The dance members also presented workshops to the youth the day before the performance and spent hours talking with and interacting with the youth during three days of long, grueling rehearsals at the stadium.

The grand finale featured 1,000 cast members singing, "O Come Ye Nations of the Earth."

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