In Dance Groups, Living Legends, Students

The video series provides information about the history behind Latin American, Polynesian and Native American dance

The choreography and regalia featured in BYU Living Legends productions are derived from revered histories and origins. In an effort to share these legends, the company has initiated a new video series explaining the dances and regalia. 

Screenshot from “Grass | North America” video.

“We not only want to further explain the legends or origin stories of the dances,” said Shanoah Zendejas, the Living Legends’ social media manager and assistant to their tour coordinator, “but also want to explain the significance of what the dancers wear. Living Legends has had the unique opportunity to help educate people from various backgrounds about the cultures they represent. We wanted to share that same opportunity with our online audience, whether they have the opportunity to see the show live or not.”

The idea for this explanation video series was conceived a few years ago during the company’s tour to Tonga, New Zealand and Samoa. A member of the group suggested they do a series explaining the dances, especially those that were not Polynesian, in order to connect their audience members who were less familiar with Latin American and Native American dance.

Zendejas explained that the “Seasons” production has brief explanations for each dance during the performances, but there are deeper histories and stories connected to the choreography and regalia. The introduction of a video series has made them able to turn this desire into a reality.

They produced their first video of the series, featuring the Native American Grass regalia and dance, this past November. “We were wrapping up Native American Heritage Month and had the opportunity to do a fun video for the Rock Your Mocs Movement, and that’s when we started filming for the series,” said Zendejas.

The grass dance is featured in the “Season of Rebirth” section of “Seasons”. The story of the Native American Grass Dance is a story of healing. Because the New Year was just weeks away, and with the story in mind, the company members could not think of a better dance to start the series off with.

Screenshot from “Grass | North America” video.

“We also wanted to make sure that we explained the meaning of the regalia, or what the dancers wear. Everything has a purpose in Native American culture. That is why people wearing feathers and headdresses as costumes is such a big deal to Native Americans. Every part of the regalia and the way they dance has meaning to it. We wanted to honor and show respect to the Native American culture and dance.”

Zendejas emphasized that a big purpose for this video series is to encourage young audience members to learn more about and understand their own culture. She shared that many members of Living Legends, and many youth, grow up not knowing much about their culture and the ensemble has provided a way for them to learn about their own culture and others as well. The company wants to encourage anyone and everyone to learn more about their culture and where they come from.

“We want to explain more dances this year, and in years to come, to our audience,” said Zendejas. “Audiences can look forward to learning more about all of the cultures we represent and their people’s history as well as more about the meaning of our numbers and why they belong in certain ‘seasons.’ In the next few weeks, we will be releasing a video explaining the Maori Haka that is performed in our show.”

To follow the video series, follow BYU Living Legends on Facebook.

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