Living Legends dancers Moni Tiatia and Keilani Akoi perform a traditional Maori war dance as part of Brigham Young University’s presentation of Seasons at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Saturday

Living Legends dancers Moni Tiatia and Keilani Akoi perform a traditional Maori war dance as part of Brigham Young University’s presentation of Seasons at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Saturday

Living Legends pay tribute to ancestral roots

Vernon to welcome Brigham Young University dancers of Native American, Polynesian and Latin American descent.

From hula to hoop dance, Vernon is about to experience a culturally diverse spectacle when Brigham Young University’s Living Legends arrives at the Performing Arts Centre Saturday.

Each year, hundreds of BYU students audition for the opportunity to pay tribute to their ancestors through music and dancing and this year is no exception when Living Legends presents Seasons.

“This year’s performance reflects the cycle of civilizations through the portrayal of changing seasons and weaves together legends of the past with the reality of today,” reads a release from Jocelyn Lee, with  BYU’s Performing Arts Management.

All Living Legends members are of Native American, Latin American, or Polynesian heritage, who perform everything from the graceful Hawaiian hula and Mexican fiesta dance to the excitement and beauty of a Native American pow wow.

Living Legends has performed throughout the U.S. and the Pacific Islands, Australia, Europe, Russia, South America and at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games. In 2013, the troupe travelled to Central America and performed for enthusiastic crowds in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.

One of the highlights of that tour was a performance attended by the president of the Nicaraguan National Assembly, Santo Rene Nunez Tellez, who said he was profoundly moved and impressed with the show, stating that “a culture does not die when it dies, it dies when it is forgotten. Your show rescues culture and heritage.”

One of the group’s main goals 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 walk proud as a people. We hope this community will not be the same after tonight.”

Living Legends originated from BYU in Provo, Utah, one of the U.S.’s largest private universities, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has an enrollment of 30,000 students from around the world.

Living Legends takes the stage at the Vernon  Performing Arts Centre Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. as part of the troupe’s 2015 Alaska and B.C. tour. Tickets are on sale at the Ticket Seller box office (250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.)

The group will also present a fireside, open-to-the-public free event Sunday, May 3 at 7 p.m. at Vernon’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1506 35th St., during which a number of troupe members will talk about their native heritage.