“Why Dance?” New Era, Aug. 2004, 21
Your back is Velcroed to the wall, your feet frozen to the floor. Your eyes are darting around the room to avoid making contact with anyone. Sound familiar?
Dances can be hard places to be if you’re shy or you just don’t know how to dance. But that doesn’t mean the best option is avoiding dances altogether. Even if you don’t know how to dance, they’re still an excellent way to meet people and make friends. And if you take the time to learn a few steps, you might really enjoy dancing!
Brock Haymond, 18, and Brittney Harper, 19, know all about dancing and making friends doing it. They’ve both been dancing since before they were teenagers, and now, as freshmen, they are dancing for Brigham Young University’s backup ballroom dance team. They’ve also won numerous national dance awards. But the recognition and gorgeous costumes aren’t the real reason they love to dance.
“I love ballroom dancing just because it’s fun!” says Brittney, who started dancing when she was 12. She had originally wanted to do sports, but her parents encouraged her to develop a new talent, so she tried dance. “I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that ballroom dancing is not just a style of dancing; it’s also a sport.”
When you watch Brock and Brittney jitterbugging across a gym-sized dance floor, their agility is impressive. Their moves are challenging. And their jumps and lifts are simply amazing. But they didn’t learn how to dance overnight. Years of hard work, separately, and now as partners for the last four years, have prepared them for their many competitions—and to teach others the joy of dancing. They love teaching youth how to dance. That’s why they volunteer to teach dance lessons at Mutual nights near their homes in Utah.
The youth of the Crescent Second Ward, Sandy Utah Crescent Ridge Stake, were thrilled to have Brock and Brittney perform for them and then teach them some simple footwork they could do on their own, like the cha-cha, the swing, and the waltz.
Jessica Wright, 17, enjoyed their instruction and plans on putting it to good use. “Now I can go to dances and do things instead of just standing around.” But, she says, even if you only have the desire to dance, “you can just have fun even if you don’t know how to dance.”
Jason Ockey, 14, already liked to dance, but he learned some new moves from Brock and Brittney. His advice to those who are shy is the same as Jessica’s: “Just have fun.”
You don’t need to know the 1, 2, 3s of every dance step to make dances enjoyable, but knowing the basics and having a desire to learn can be valuable. “I love to go to school dances and actually dance,” Brock says. “I just can’t do the slow dance thing where you shuffle around in a circle. Dance is great for the youth of the Church: physically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.”
Brittney agrees: “Dancing is a great way to meet new people and make new friends. I’ve met some of my very best friends through dance. It’s also a great way to try something new and even develop a talent.”
Brock and Brittney believe that dancing can be uplifting when Church standards are kept. “There’s something to be gained from keeping a ‘Bible’ space between you and your partner,” says Brock. “Keeping Church standards when you go to dances invites the Spirit, and everyone enjoys themselves.”
The Crescent Second Ward youth really enjoyed learning from Brock and Brittney, even if they didn’t catch on to all the steps. You can learn a few steps too. But you don’t have to be a national dance champion to enjoy dancing. The next time you’re at a dance, gather up some courage, tear yourself away from the safety wall, and just have a good time being with friends.
Here are some of the guidelines the Church has given for stake youth dances:
Dress, grooming, lighting, dancing styles, lyrics, and music should contribute to an atmosphere where the Spirit can be present.
The music volume should allow two people standing next to each other to have a conversation instead of a yelling competition.
Lights should be bright enough for you to be able to see across the room. Avoid psychedelic or pulsating lights.
Youth under age 14 don’t usually participate in youth conferences or dances, but the bishopric or stake presidency may make exceptions in some cases.
(Church Handbook of Instructions, 190, 226, and 277.)