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LDS dancer graces the stage, lives around her

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SANDY — Sweet little Mormon girls don't often appear on the cover of New York City dance magazines. But that is exactly the opportunity Zoey Anderson, an 18-year-old from Sandy, Utah, is itching to add to her already impressive dance resume. As a contender in a "Dance Spirit" magazine competition, she just may get her chance.

Zoey is a talented dancer who has placed in the top 10 of every national competition she's ever participated in. She is also a dedicated member of the LDS Church.

After taking a mommy/daughter dance class at age 2, Zoey could not get dance out of her system. She immersed herself in dance classes in jazz, contemporary, ballroom, ballet, hip hop and tap. She began competing at age 3 and hasn't stopped since.

"I was born to dance," Zoey said. "My mom says I came out in a perfect fifth position. I have videos of me still in diapers doing very dramatic dances. I really do believe that I have to dance. It's just who I am."

Zoey's mother agrees. "Her spirit shines through her as she dances. … She is meant to touch others and people are drawn to her fun, sweet personality. These are all gifts from Heavenly Father."

Like breathing, dance is an essential facet of Zoey's life. It is even woven into her DNA. Her grandmother was a member of the University of Utah's first dance company, her mother earned a BFA in dance from the U. and her father was a member of Brigham Young University's Young Ambassadors, an elite song and dance team.

Zoey's burgeoning career is littered with success. She has appeared as a dancer in Pepsi, Coke and Discovery Channel commercials and performed in the movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." She and her ballroom partner, Justin Ascione, are currently ranked No. 1 in the world in their division for American Smooth.

Zoey's newest venture takes her straight to the Big Apple. After powering her way through tough national auditions she landed as one of three finalists for an exclusive "Dance Spirit" magazine feature.

But budding stardom has not dimmed the truth of who she really is. Amidst the chaos of a vibrant dance life, Zoey firmly embraces her values and beliefs.

"I believe my gift of dance is a gift from Heavenly Father. I have drawn so close to him by being an example," she said. "I have prayed before shows and read my scriptures in hotel rooms. Many people have asked questions and it has strengthened my testimony to share the gospel."

Zoey's diligence shines through in her everyday life as well. She recently graduated from seminary and is striving to finish her final project for her Young Womanhood Recognition Award.

Zoey also uses dance to bless the lives of others. She has performed at fundraisers for Make a Wish Foundation, the Arthritis Foundation and even organized a Christmas fundraiser to buy books for refugee children.

"I have been blessed to use my dance as service. This has been a perfect way to fulfill my passion and my Personal Progress goals," she said.

Zoey's grace and beauty flow from her spirit, not just her feet.

"As she was in New York doing the 'Dance Spirit' magazine experience, the editor said, 'We can tell she is a Mormon, she has that glow,' " Zoey's mother said.

Janalyn Memmot, Zoey's longtime teacher, sees that glow as well.

"Although Zoey is blessed with amazing ability, she remains humble and teachable, grateful and kind," Memmot said. "I am profoundly impressed with her honesty and innocence, as a person and as a performer."

Zoey's dance career is just beginning. She is headed to New York this fall to begin classes at Marymount Manhattan Liberal Arts College, where she also plans to attend the singles ward and to participate in temple service.

To vote for Zoey in the "Dance Spirit" competition visit cms.dancespirit.com.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.