I'm sorry that I can't think of a better place to put this post, but since there were a few posts in days past that mentioned Julianne being Mormon, I hope it is not completely off-topic in this thread.
Frankly, I considered opening a new thread called, "Dancing with the Saints: The Mormon-Ballroom Connection," but I figured it would only be closed and deleted. As I said, I hope the post will be acceptable on this thread.
Both Julianne and Ashly being Mormon made we wonder: coincidence? Was there some connection between the faith and dancing? I am quite the novice when it comes to the LDS.
The last two nights, PBS broadcast a four hour documentary on the Mormons, a joint production of Frontline and the American Experience. I found it to be very balanced and, like so many of their productions, completely fascinating. As I learned, indeed dancing is woven tightly into the history of the Mormon church. At one point one of the scholars being interviewed, himself a LDS, gives a long and inspired monologue about what dancing means to Mormons. I found it so informative and eloquent that I actually transcribed his words and will reproduce here. Sorry, it is somewhat long, but there is no site where I can link to it. I hope some of you find it as interesting as I did.
One observer visited the Saints on the prairie. He said it was one of the most haunting, haunting experiences, to see the vast stretches of isolation and loneliness and wilderness; and then you’d hear the soft strains of classical music coming over the hills, and there would be the Saints gathered round playing music and dancing.
Philosopher Nietzsche once wrote, “I should never believe in a God who would not know how to dance." And I feel the same way. There is in the Mormon faith a kind of celebration of the physical, which I think is a little outside of the Christian mainstream. When the Saints moved west to Utah, one observer in the 1850’s noted that they had schools in most every block but that every night the schools were converted into dancing schools. And he observed with some displeasure that Mormons taught their children that they should go to school but they must go to dancing school.
And I think that there’s a connection between the place of dancing in Mormon history and the concept of an embodied God. Because we believe that God the father, as well as Jesus Christ, are physical embodied beings, that elevates the body to a heavenly status. And I think there’s a kind of exuberance and celebration that in many ways is the result of the same collapse of sacred distance that was so central to Joseph Smith’s thinking.
Instead of denigrating the things of the body in order to elevate the things of the spirit, Joseph always argued that it was the successful incorporation of both that culminated in a fullness of joy. And so dancing, I think, is in many ways just an emblem or a symbol of a kind of righteous reveling in the physical tabernacle that we believe is a stage on our way to godliness itself.
- Terryl Givens, English Professor
So, there you have it. Now if someone can post in the Karina thread why so many dancers come from Russia.