ALAMOSA — On Tuesday night, Brigham Young University’s Living Legends celebrate the Latin American, Native American, and Polynesian cultures in their show “Seasons” with a performance of culturally inspired dance, music, and costumes. Each year, hundreds of BYU students audition for the opportunity to pay tribute to their ancestors through music and dancing.
The audition process is competitive—accepting only the best singers and dancers—and all Living Legends members are of Native American, Latin American, or Polynesian heritage. Spectacular choreography, colorful costumes, and heart-pounding music bring to life the skill, beauty, and authenticity of these traditional cultures. “Seasons” reflects the cycle of civilizations through the portrayal of changing seasons, weaving together the legends of the past with the reality of today.
From the exciting Polynesian haka and poi and the graceful Mexican Fiesta dances to the expertise behind the Native American Hoop Dance, this is an experience you won’t want to miss at Adam State University’s Plachy Hall on Tuesday at 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for individuals, $20 for families as large as eight and can be purchased online at tix.byu.edu. A limited amount will be available at the door and there will be a meet and greet after the performance. Additionally, the dancers will perform for a student-only assembly at Alamosa High School earlier that day.
Living Legends has toured around the globe to places such as the Pacific Islands, Australia, Canada, Europe, and South America. In 2018, the group will take their show “Seasons” to Germany and Switzerland after performances in New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. They have recently returned from their Midwest tour, where they performed in nine cities. In 2015, the group went on an international tour to the South Pacific and performed in New Zealand, Tonga, and Samoa, where many of the students had family and ancestry. They also performed for the Royal family of Tonga while there.
During the summer of 2013, Living Legends traveled to Central America and performed for enthusiastic crowds in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. One of the highlights was a performance in Nicaragua, where the President of the National Assembly, Santos René Núñez Téllez, and his council were present in the audience. The next day, Téllez expressed he was profoundly moved and impressed with the previous night’s show, and told them that “a culture does not die when it dies, it dies when it is forgotten. Your show rescues culture and heritage.”
On tour, besides sticking to their normal scheduled performances, Living Legends also participate in community services and perform in school assemblies, where they encourage students to pursue higher education.
One of the main goals of Living Legends is to encourage all to take pride in their individual heritage and to continuously better themselves, as illustrated by a statement from the Office of Culture in Guatemala: “Your performance was wonderful. Your presence here teaches our people something—to have high ideals and to talk proudly as a people. We hope this community will not be the same after tonight.”
The colorful and authentic presentation of Latin American, Polynesian, and Native American music and dance by BYU’s Living Legends would not be possible without the dedication, talent, and expertise of artistic director Janielle Christensen.
Christensen became active in professional theater and music early in her life, co-hosting a daily television show at age 12 and playing with the Musicians’ Union at age 14. She proceeded to gain extensive experience producing and directing summer theatres, performing groups, and trade shows, as well as directing a television series and a large outdoor pageant featuring members of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
As an artistic director of Living Legends and a producer for Young Ambassadors, both performing groups at BYU, she has traveled around the world, bringing uplifting family entertainment to millions through live and televised productions. Under Christensen’s direction, Living Legends has toured and performed throughout Europe, China, the Pacific Islands, Australia, Canada, Central and South America, South Africa, and the United States. “It is a moving experience to work with these performers because I see the sincere respect they each hold for one another’s ancestry as well as their own,” Christensen said.
Living Legends originates in the Department of Dance, College of Fine Arts and Communications, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. BYU is one of the nation’s largest private universities with an enrollment of 30,000 students from throughout the United States and 100 foreign countries.
Caption: Kaleb Ho Ching and Keilani Clark dances in the Hawaiian number, ‘Noho Ana Ke ‘Ala Anuhea’ in Living Legends’ “Seasons.” The performance is at Adam State University’s Plachy Hall on Tuesday at 7 p.m./Photo by Jaren Wilkey.