Youth and their families filled the Marriott Center top to bottom Saturday night for the Provo City Center Temple Cultural Celebration, an event that was months in the making.
Polly K. Dunn was called to serve as chair of the event in July 2015, and preparations with her committee of nine began shortly thereafter. The team had to corral more than 4,500 youth who participated in the performance, finding each youth a spot in the approximately 70-minute program.
The team came up with a theme, “Beauty For Ashes,” which comes from Isaiah 61:3. Dunn thought it matched with the situation at the Provo Tabernacle.
“And we thought with this tabernacle having been ashes and then being an incredibly beautiful temple,” Dunn said, “that it was absolutely fitting for the building, but also an incredible message for the youth that when our lives feel like they are ashes the Savior will give us beauty for ashes in our lives.”
Here are a few photo highlights from the evening.
A simple note
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve, said a few words before the performances. He recollected on his time at the Provo Tabernacle and his time as president of Brigham Young University when the Maririott Center was dedicated.
Starting with Utah’s rich pioneer heritage, the youth sang a song, “Beauty for Ashes,” dressed in pioneer attire.
Through Heaven’s Eyes
With a flash of color and energy, the youth danced to “Through Heaven’s Eyes” from “The Prince of Egypt.” Provo resident Rachel Holdman, who turned 18 on the same day as the performance, was part of this group. Reflecting on the theme of the event, Holdman said, “When your life is falling apart and all the things are going wrong, you’re in the ashes and this is what’s happening to you. Through Christ, through the atonement, you can come back and you can be that beauty. You can be risen from the ashes and can be something amazing.”
The youth go marching
Paying tribute to the Church’s involvement in the Boy Scouts of America program, one group danced with flags to celebrate this country.
Called to sing
Young men and women sang and danced to the missionary hymn, “Called to Serve.”
The track was not of David Archuleta, but instead the song made famous in the LDS documentary “Meet the Mormons” was sung by multiple youth.
Probably the most anticipated performance, this hip-hop version of a popular Primary song “Give Said the Little Stream” gave the whole celebration a little more edge.
After watching a video about a couple who had been married for 49 years after meeting in the Provo Tabernacle where they decided to go on a date dancing, the youth took a step back into time with some swing music.
Prepped for the rain
This prop-driven interpretive dance was another take on “beauty for ashes.” The umbrellas were used to offset the lyrics to the song, “Sometimes He Let’s it Rain.”
Temple comes forth
The youth carried a large purple ball from the top of the Marriott Center and passed it through the crowd of youth on the Marriott Center floor.
“Savior, Redeemer of My Soul”
This lyrical dance by young women summed up the evening in a reverent manner.
“Beauty For Ashes”
The evening ended where it began with the song, “Beauty For Ashes.” All of the youth participated in the closing number, lining the isles to the top of the Marriott Center.