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FESTIVAL TOUCHES LIVES, STRENGTHENS TESTIMONIES

Organizers of the Seattle Region Dance Festival say several miracles occurred to make the festival possible after a year of planning and the cooperation of almost 2,000 individuals.

"What the 6,390 members of the audience saw in the two-hour show was not the entirety of the festival's successes," said Alan R. Dance, festival dance coordinator. "Many lives were touched and testimonies strengthened."The May 13 festival focused on the centennial celebration of the state of Washington, with each of the Seattle Washington Region's eight stakes dancing through part of the state's last 100 years. Indian fish dancing, a lumberjack number, and the jitterbug were only a few of the evening's offerings.

One of the most successful numbers, according to Dance, involved approximately 1,200 dancers who formed a giant star and then moved into the state flag.

The program ended with a "powerfully moving number where the dancers formed an American flag that was caused to wave by some intricately choreographed movements," Dance reported. "The elements of faith, hope, hard work and the Spirit combined to produce an effort and spirit that seemed to transcend the festival to a miraculous height. . . . There were few dry eyes as the festival ended with the waving American flag."

The spirit during the festival was strengthened by a devotional, held earlier in the day, where Young Women Gen. Pres. Ardeth G. Kapp spoke.

"Tonight," she said, "will be a magnificent performance as you take the right steps, listen for the beat, keep in time, and follow the leader. And tomorrow, next month and next year as you prepare for your final performance in this earth life, may you take the right steps, listen for the beat, keep in time and follow the leader. And then know, as President [Ezra TaftT Benson has said, speaking to the youths, `The heavenly grandstands are cheering you on.' "

Planning for the festival, held at the Tacoma Dome, began last May and help from the Lord was evident from the beginning, Dance said.

Goals for the festival included building and strengthening the testimonies of participants through association with inspired leaders and exemplary Church members, providing an opportunity to learn dance skills, providing wholesome entertainment for members and friends, and proclaiming the gospel through a significant state centennial event.

Dance feels those goals were met, as many youths and adult leaders reported spiritual experiences. "One ward Young Women president commented that her daughter had started to drift off with a bad crowd," he related. "But the festival demanded so much of her time and gave her so much contact with other Church youths that she did not return to the other group. That mother credits the festival with saving the spiritual life of her daughter."

Some non-members were involved in the program and, although Dance is not certain if any are investigating the Church, seeds were planted. One professional light technician commented that he'd never seen anything like the program before. Many non-member youths who participated were equally impressed, Dance noted.