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Paige Hollingsworth Professor Edwin Austin Dance 459 18 February 2014

Words From Heaven There are many words from modern day LDS prophets discussing the issues and values of being an LDS artist. The prophets realize there are challenges and obstacles artists encounter in their journey of creativity including challenges of identity, challenges of confidence, and challenges of integrity. It is easy to get overwhelmed by everything surrounding us and forget our true potential as artists. The guidance from our LDS modern day prophets help lead the way in utilizing our talents to the fullest and in the most appropriate ways. They remind us of who we really are, where our talents came from, the help that the Lord gave us here on earth, and how to keep our integrity. Ultimately, they teach us how to center the arts in Christ. Truly centering the arts in Christ is much more, for example, than simply creating a dance revolving around Christs mortal life. It is keeping Him in every thought as we create and use the talents He so graciously gave us. Remembering where our talents and our facilities to perform those talents came from is one of the most prominent concepts that modern day prophets are emphasizing, not only to artists, but also to everyone. With a career as a surgeon, Elder Nelson has studied the human body extensively and understands what an amazing gift it is. Discussing the true brilliance of the body he said, Your body, whatever its natural gifts, is a magnificent creation of God. It is a tabernacle of flesh a temple for your spirit. A

study of your body attests to its divine design (Nelson). He then continues on to describe how amazing it is how every organ works together and how our body can move in so many ways. We need to remember who we are and to be grateful to God for the amazing body we have and the talents that come with it. One act of gratitude to our Heavenly Father that Elder Maxwell emphasizes is through our creative expression. He states that, creative expression can represent the celebration of our gratitude to God for our gifts and talents (Maxwell). That celebration of gratitude by using the talents we have is all that He asks of us. We just need to remember to use those talents for good instead of bad. There is a tendency as creative artists to put ourselves down because of our imperfections. We work so hard and are very vulnerable by putting our emotions and our inner selves out on the dance floor, hoping that people will appreciate it. But sometimes we may not seem to reach our high expectations. President Utchdorf discusses how Latter-Day saints need to seek after the truth of the gospel. He states that even though we do not know everything, we are encouraged to think and discover truth for ourselves. We are expected to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to a personal knowledge of the truth.... Because we see through a glass darkly, we have to trust the Lord, who sees all things clearly (Uchtdorf). This truth about the gospel can apply to our art as well. Instead of immediately finding the imperfections of our dance technique or the weaknesses in our choreography, we are asked to work hard and seek after improvement as we are asked to seek after truth. No one is perfect. But when we ask for Gods help, who sees everything more clearly than we do, we will find that we will continue to improve and progress. In the arts, it is easy to forget to give credit to the one who gave us the ability to do what we do. It can become a selfish career if we do not keep

our priorities in line and consistently remember to center our arts in Christ. Elder K. Newell Dayley reminds artists to ask ourselves where are motives lie. When you are alone, what do you really want to do and what will you be? (Dayley). Pertaining to the arts, these questions tell us whether we are truly centering the arts around Christ or not. Elder Dayley states that by centering arts in Christ we are choosing to follow His example in everything we do. Our arts will invite and entice to do good, persuade to believe in Christ, plant joy in the hearts of the audience, radiate light and hope, and invite the Holy Ghost (Dayley). If our arts do anything to the contrary of these qualities, they are instead inspired by the deceiver. Arts that are centered in Christ can be very powerful to the audience. Recently I was in a ballet performance where none of the dancers were professionally trained. After the performance, we were informed from several audience members that even though they had seen the same classical ballet by a professional company, they felt something different after watching our version. We were not as technically clean as the professional companies but I believe the light of Christ is what stood out and shone through in our performance. The arts are a marvelous manifestation of the light of Christ... Those who remove themselves from the Light of Christ through pride or disobedience may use the form of art to express themselves, but they deny the power thereof (Dayley). We should not do anything that could potentially remove that light of Christ and the Holy Ghost from our art. It makes a huge difference in the creating of our art. In order to create with Christ at the center, we need to have the Holy Ghost accompanying us. Elder Bednar discusses how we should strive to always have the Spirit with us, keeping anything that drives away the Holy Ghost out of our lives. He states that

the baptismal covenant promises is that we can always have it with us if we are righteous, so that should be our goal (Bednar). If we strive to keep the Holy Ghost in our everyday life, it will be easier to keep it with us during the creative, artistic process. Elder Bednar compares the Holy Ghost to the Liahona from the Book of Mormon, saying that when we are righteous and obedient it continues to provide direction and instruction. It works according to our faith and diligence (Bednar). This applies to the arts in that when we use our arts for good, the Holy Ghost will continue to guide and help us. But as soon as we disregard the light of Christ, we are no longer accompanied by the Holy Ghost. One last idea that the modern day prophets emphasize to LDS artists is the importance of keeping our integrity. As artists, we may be asked to portray different personalities on and off the stage. A certain dance or play may ask for different characters. Our challenge as artists is to be the same person on and off the stage, holding true to our morals, values, and integrity. Elder Tanner defined integrity as, a state or quality of being complete, undivided, or unbroken; moral soundness, honesty and uprightness (Tanner). People in the world of arts have a vast range of moral steadfastness, making it more difficult for those with higher moral values to remain strong. But by setting our standards and values high beforehand, encountering a choice in the future that could potentially lower our morals will be a much easier decision. Keeping that thought process in mind, we will avoid having, one self for church, another self for business, another for recreation, home, travel, and so on (Tanner). Remembering to remain grateful to God for the body and talents we have, living worthy of the Holy Ghost, and keeping our integrity are topics of advice given to artists by the LDS modern-day prophets. Combining these concepts puts are motives in the

correct place and centers the arts in Christ. The scriptures say that a form of gratitude is through singing, dancing, and using our talents to the fullest. We as LDS artists can spread the light of Christ through our work and be successful artists by following the prophets counsels.

Works Cited
Bednar, David A. "That We May Always Have the Spirit To Be With Us." General Conference. Apr 2006. Address. Dayley, Newell. "Centering the Arts in Christ." BYU Devotional. 6 Mar 2001. Address. Maxwell, Neal A. "Creativity." New Era. Aug 1982: n. page. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. Nelson, Russell M. "We Are Children of God." General Conference. Oct 1998. Address Tanner, N. Eldon. "Integrity." General Conference. Apr 1977. Address. Uchtdorf, Dieter F. "What is Truth." Church Educational System Broadcast. 2013. Address.