“People and Places,” New Era, Sept. 1971, 34
Salt Lake City—With the recently announced decisions that there will be no more all-Church dance and music festivals (see page 45), the early summer—and final—All-Church Dance Festival and the singing at the MIA conference by the Northwestern Regional Chorus have taken on special significance. These kinds of activities will now take place in various regions throughout the Church—much closer to home so that you can participate in and enjoy the events.
What will these super-activities be like? What will they mean to you if you become involved in them?
Such questions can best be answered by youth who experienced the dancing and choral singing this year. The dancers—8,100 of them—came from all over the Church. They had practiced their routines for an entire year, then met and in one day of practice put together the famed dance festival. The 400-member Northwestern Regional Chorus was composed of youth from the following stakes: Cascade, Cascade South, Mt. Rainier, Olympia, Puget Sound, Renton, Seattle, Seattle East, Seattle North, Tacoma, and Vancouver. Singers knew well what it meant to practice for months, drive long miles for rehearsals, and enjoy rich musical and social experiences.
A roundup of comments:
“After working on our parts so long in Ohio, to get here and see it all fall together—wow! It really makes you feel close to other kids.”—Marilyn Johnson, Akron, Ohio
“It’s hard to describe the feeling of moving in rhythm with a sea of other people—everyone doing the same thing to create a visual impression. It has been overwhelming to me, even from my limited viewpoint on the field. Our M Man and Gleaner group has received a unity that will last a long time.”—Lee Williamsen, Bountiful, Utah
“I’m practically the only boy in my age group in our small ward, but when I went down to the stake for rehearsals, I found I have more friends than I know what to do with. I’m not kidding—you really get some neat friends.”—Dan Dodge, Pasa Robles, California
“We drove a long way to get here. Tomorrow we’re going to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. We’ve got a lot of converts in our group. One of them, George Dunn, was baptized through the Scouting program. Before we came, he bore his testimony for the first time in his life, before 600 kids. It was really neat to see.”—Gail Southerland, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Tell us about some of the girls you met in the festival.
“Well, some of them were lighter than others! It’s the first time I’ve really enjoyed doing the Charleston.”—Doug McLachlan, Bountiful, Utah
“I made a friendship with a girl from Texas. She really had a cute accent. I always thought that Texas had the biggest of everything, but when she saw our mountains she just kept looking at them and saying, ‘Wow! I guess we’ve just got big hills in Texas.’”—Christine Sampson, Midvale, Utah
How did you finance your trip?
“Would you believe loading IBM cards? Our parents helped us, too.”—Janice Walker, Chicago
“We sold light bulbs, washed cars, and did a lot of other projects.”—John and Brenda Wyatt, Brea, California
“I never knew that there were so many people who were willing to work together for a good cause.”—Marlene Jones, Utah
“Some of the dance culture has really rubbed off on me. I’ve learned an appreciation for different kinds of dancing.”—Sydnee Porter, Utah
“When it was all over, I just sat down and cried.”—Sherry Lewis, Utah
Comments from various chorus members:
“There are about 400 of us in the chorus. Man, can you imagine that! Four hundred kids all singing together, all believing the same thing!”
“When you sing together, it’s hard to express it, but the music really touches your heart. I keep telling myself, ‘I feel just like the person who wrote this song. This is my testimony too. Heavenly Father, hear me. Let me sing to you my testimony!’”
“Let’s face it, music is the greatest thing in my life right now, aside from the Church. I never knew religious music could get to me.”
“We’re really excited to be down here from the Northwest. We’ve really grown to love each other—and yes, some of our kids are even dating Mormons now. I didn’t know there were so many neat Latter-day Saints in our area.”
“We’ve had a lot of fun in rehearsals, but the best part is when you practice and practice, pray for a good spirit, and then come and experience that beautiful spirit. We all just love one another very much. I don’t think any of us would want to say anything bad about each other—we’ve grown together too much. To me that’s what makes the Church so great—it really makes life and people beautiful.”