November, 18, 2014

Celebrating the Arts

Melinda Blog Image Brigham Young

This year BYU is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center. Our pioneer ancestors loved the arts. Their communities in the East and later in the Western frontier were filled with great musicians, actors, artists, and authors.

Did you know that Brigham Young was an actor, famous for his role as the Incan High Priest in the play Pizarro? “The stage,” Brigham Young said, “can be made to aid the pulpit” if directors “select . . . plays that will improve the public mind and exalt the literary taste.” [1]

There are countless examples of the early Saints’ love for dancing. One of my favorites is a story of the Saints laboring in the unfinished Nauvoo Temple. Brigham Young stated, “it was thought proper to have a little season of recreation . . . accordingly Brother Hanson . . . played several lively airs [on his violin,] accompanied by Elisha Averett on his flute. . . . This was too much for the gravity of Brother Joseph Young, who indulged in dancing a hornpipe, and was soon joined by several others, and before the dance was over, several French fours were indulged in. The first was opened by myself with Sister Whitney and Elder Heber C. Kimball and partner. The spirit of dancing increased until the whole floor was covered with dancers, and . . . we danced before the Lord.” [2]

Happy 50th to the Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center! Thanks for not only entertaining but for also uplifting and involving the Spirit in your various performances.  And thanks to the students who used to be stamped with “those people that hang out in the HFAC” stereotype, I hope that next time you pass Brigham Young’s statue on campus, you realize you’re making BYU’s namesake proud.

[1] Jane Choate, “Eliza R. Snow,” October 1, 1986,

[2] Education in Zion Text. Zion-Text.pdf