Contrary to Popular Opinion, Dancing is Huge in the Mormon Community.
Mormons dominate the dancing scene. From big names like Julianne and Derek Hough of Dancing with the Stars to less popular collegiate DanceSport, Mormons disproportionately dominate dancing leaderboards.
It’s a common misconception Mormons don’t dance. Although they are generally associated with more conservative Christian sects, in the Mormon community the arts thrive. Children are pushed to pursue their talents in their free time. That includes dancing, singing, and other talents a child would wish to pursue.
Utah has been a dance powerhouse since 1971 when Brigham Young University first attended the international dance competition in England. The dance fad spread across Utah, a state with 63% of the population members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The main man and his Mormon Wine (Martinellis) giving a toast after his baptism today! http://t.co/KgIwvAo5Jl
— Julianne Hough (@juliannehough) November 24, 2013
Brigham Young was known to be an avid dancer. “Mormons danced when they crossed the plains to Utah, and one of the first buildings they built was a dance hall,” Lee Wakefield told Newsweek in 2008. Mormon communities often hold dances for their children and for singles for members to meet new people and to find partners within the Mormon community.
Gigs and square dances were popular among the Mormon community until the Waltz appeared in the late 19th century. The bodily contact between men and women was scandalous to the LDS. Long battles were fought between the youth who wanted to integrate this new dance form and older church leaders.
With each evolution of dance, men and women come in closer contact and the moves get more provocative. Modern dancers like Julianne and Derek Hough often dance in close contact with a member of the opposite sex and dance in revealing clothing.
BYU’s dance department focuses on a technique to combat oversexualizing its dancers. Proper hip rotation, foot angle, and arm movements become the main focus for the dance team. This focus on technical excellence is one of the things that makes Mormon dancers excel in competitions such as So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars, and DanceSport where technical skill often sets apart the multitude of dancers with extreme passion.
Although most styles of dance are quickly evolving to be more socially liberal, the Mormon stronghold in ballroom dance can easily be seen in the culture of the partner dances. Ballroom dance often frowns upon same-sex dance partners and assumes stringent gender roles in both the dance and the language used to teach.
Popular Mormon musician Lindsey Stirling is currently competing on Dancing With The Stars.