The Education in Zion Gallery along with the BYU Department of Dance will host the gallery’s semester date night, Old Nauvoo Dance, on Feb 22.
Reggie Voyce, the gallery educator, described why the early Saints inspired the date night theme.
Voyce said that while reading about the early Saints, she discovered that after a long day’s work they would pull out their musical instruments and start dancing to the music. She said that Brigham Young described the scene saying, “We danced to the glory of the Lord.”
“I thought that was such an awesome quote. The Saints had worked hard, (they) did work really hard all the time, but they also knew how to play hard,” Voyce said.
During the Old Nauvoo era some religions prohibited dancing. Voyce told of one Saint who converted from Protestantism and inquired about the dancing of the early Saints. In reply, and to the convert’s bewilderment, Joseph Smith assured him that dancing was a healthy exercise that could be done properly.
Voyce recalled how “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” tells families to participate in wholesome recreational activities.
“There’s a proper way to dance,” Voyce said.
Voyce believed that dancing would be a great way to introduce the gallery to people who have never been.
Colleen West, a BYU dance professor, will be teaching two simple Nauvoo dances. West, in an email, described that the dancing is for all ages.
“No specific dance skills are needed to participate,” West said. “The usual footwork is just walking. The “caller” will direct the people into patterns and formations. The evening of dancing is conducted in a non-intimidating atmosphere where all can enjoy each other’s company. The music is lively, which is sure to get anyone’s foot a tappin.’”
The dance is intended to help participants interact with one another and involve every participant, West said.
Rebecca Soelberg, the gallery educator who helped plan, prepare and execute the event, said why the Old Nauvoo Dance will be a great date opportunity.
“(It’s) good for married (couples) or first dates, or wherever you are,” Soelberg said. “It’s a fun time to come and have fun.”
Soelberg encouraged couples to come and dance, especially since it’s free.
“Utilize the events on campus that are free,” Soelberg said. “We don’t all have 20 bucks to drop every week.”
Soelberg and Voyce hope that participants will leave with a greater reverence for the Saints and a greater sense of brotherhood.
“Camaraderie, like coming together,” Soelberg said. “In this case, celebrating together. Everyone feels the spirit of the Saints.”
Old Nauvoo Dance night is at 7 p.m. on the main floor of the gallery, and light refreshments will be provided.