Living Legends dancers position the hoops to honor the creations of Mother Earth. Joel Fonoimoana, Shanoah Ulibarri, Erin Tapahe and Kamalu Kaluhiokalani, from left, create symbols of the eagle, the basket, and the world. (Mark A. Philbrick/BYU)

Living Legends dancers position the hoops to honor the creations of Mother Earth. Joel Fonoimoana, Shanoah Ulibarri, Erin Tapahe and Kamalu Kaluhiokalani, from left, create symbols of the eagle, the basket, and the world. (Mark A. Philbrick/BYU)

Living Legends dance show in Port Angeles to celebrate cultures

PORT ANGELES — Dances, songs and authentic Latin American, Native American and Polynesian costumes will be combined into a celebration of heritage at Port Angeles High School’s Performing Arts Center on Wednesday.

Tickets are on sale now for the Living Legends show set for 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Port Angeles High School, 304 E. Park Ave.

For tickets and more information, see pam.byu.edu and click “Buy Tickets.”

“They have 300 costumes, and the 37 dancers are forever running back and forth off the stage, changing in and out of the authentically built costumes,” said Patrick Downie, publicist for the show sponsored by the Olympic Peninsula’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Brigham Young University students from the three cultures join together for the college’s Living Legends new show “Seasons.”

Started in 1971, the troupe has performed worldwide, including at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and most recently in Samoa, New Zealand and Tonga during the 2016 season.

Artistic director Janielle Christensen, who has been with the group for 26 years, said “Seasons” is a “magnificent 90-minute show.

“It’s a spectacle of dancing, scenic elements and visuals, and it carries with it a little bit more narrative,” she said.

“It’s so unique that there’s no other cultural group around doing something of this scope.”

“Seasons” follows a young man “caught up in the world,” Christensen said, as he’s visited by three ancestors from these ancient cultures who take him on a journey.

BYU students take a journey of their own every winter semester, too. They tour for 10 days in nearby regions to Utah like this winter’s tour to Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

“Our students and all of our university love tours to the Pacific Northwest,” Christensen said. “It always feels like there are people here that really care we’re coming and do their homework and help fill each show.”

Although the show is sponsored by a church, it is not religious, Christensen said.

On campus, the troupe is well-regarded, with hundreds of students auditioning for the troupe, with 36 performers selected and 12 chosen from each culture.

An eight-person technical crew and technical director join the group as well for the tour via buses and trucks. They’ll stay with local families at each stop, too.

When Living Legends began, Christensen said it started more as a variety show with dances from the different cultures, but in the past 15 years, it’s changed.

“[Organizers] realized there is common heritage that brings them together and tells a beautiful story,” she said.

After 46 years, the troupe continues because college leaders value how much the students are learning about their cultures and sharing that with audiences while keeping their cultures alive, Christensen said.

Part of the show’s message, she said, is encouraging people to look at their own family history and “take pride in their individual heritage and to continuously better themselves.”

Justin Smith, artistic manager for the show, said there will be some representation from local Native American tribes and that they reach out to communities like that because they want to share and celebrate those cultures as best as possible.

Living Legends originates in the Department of Dance, College of Fine Arts and Communications, at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

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