Regional Youth Dance Festival Shines Bright in Pacific Northwest

Contributed By Stephen Daniels-Brown, Church News contributor

  • 29 June 2015

Youth from the South Puget Sound region of Washington state participated in a five-stake dance festival May 30.  Photo by Stephen Daniels-Brown.

Article Highlights

  • Nearly 900 youth from the South Puget Sound region of Washington state participated in a five-stake dance festival May 30 with an audience of more than 5,000 people.
  • The youth began practicing together in January, while planning began 18 months prior to the event.
  • Attendees were encouraged to bring a canned food item, which resulted in over 1,000 pounds of food being donated to the Thurston County Food Bank.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our stake’s youth to join with those who share their beliefs and feel strength in numbers.” —Russell Larsen, president of the Elma Washington Stake

LACEY, WASHINGTON

Nearly 900 youth from the South Puget Sound region of Washington state participated in a five-stake dance festival May 30 that drew afternoon and evening audiences totaling more than 5,000 people at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington.

The Olympia, Lacey, Elma, Centralia, and Lakewood, Washington, stakes participated in the festival entitled, “Shine Bright, Share the Light.” The youth began practicing together in January, while planning began 18 months prior to the event.

“This was a wonderful opportunity for our stake’s youth to join with those who share their beliefs and feel strength in numbers,” said Elma Washington Stake President Russell Larsen.

President Larsen noted that some of their stake’s youth who had not previously participated in organized dance were reluctant at first. “In spite of their insecurities, the reluctant became the most enthusiastic.”

“It was super cool to see all the youth together and make lots of new friends,” said Hanna Nelson, one of the young women who participated in the performance.

Festival cochair JoAnn Alexander of the Olympia Washington Stake noted that the multistake youth council chose the theme based upon the counsel of President Thomas S. Monson when he said, “If you want to give a light to others, you have to glow yourself” (“For I Was Blind, but Now I See,” April 1999 general conference).

Attendees were encouraged to bring a canned food item, which resulted in over 1,000 pounds of food being donated to the Thurston County Food Bank. During the performance, the JustServe.org program was promoted as a way to shine light in the region’s communities by giving service to others. JustServe.org links volunteers with community service opportunities around the United States.

More than 290 adult volunteers assisted with dance instruction, logistics, and costume design and assembly.

Youth from the South Puget Sound region of Washington state raise their hands while wearing glow bracelets, emphasizing the festival's theme, “Shine Bright, Share the Light.” Photo by Stephen Daniels-Brown.