Encore Fall 2018

Living Legends

Breaking Language Barriers in Germany and Switzerland

BYU Living Legends fascinated thousands throughout Germany and Switzerland with their culturally rich show, Seasons. The songs and dances featured a unique blend of Polynesian, Native American, and Latin American cultures that are not common to Europe. Despite the differences in culture, the members of Living Legends were able to connect with those they performed for. “Dance and music are one of the few ways we can break down barriers,” says performer Mariah Matua. “This is a way we can push through all that and realize we have a lot more in common than we do in differences.”

The group’s first performance in Neumunster, Germany was well-attended and the audience enjoyed clapping along with the music in the Native American “Hoop Dance.” Their clapping kept time as a trio danced with multiple hoops in rhythmic and dynamic movements. Afterwards audience members tested their own skills with the hoops.

In Hagen, Germany the audience was amazed to hear the performance in their own language. Living Legends group members performed the vocal elements in their show completely in German, accompanied by prerecorded narration. Spectators were amazed to hear the performance in their own language and enjoy the beauty of the extravagant costumes and remarkable dancing.

One of the most memorable and largest performances was a free, outdoor show at Konstablerwache Square in Central Frankfurt, Germany. Of tens of thousands of commuters who pass through the area each day on their way to one of the busiest train stations in all of Europe, many were drawn in to watch as Living Legends performed in their vibrant regalia. “The performance was breathtaking,” said Ralf Grünke, associate director of public affair for the Europe Area of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint. “This was a celebration of diversity, of love, of humankind, and of life itself.”

When the group traveled to Ludvigshafen, Germany, group members visited St. Annastifts Children’s Pediatric Hospital and performed for the patients. “It was very humbling to perform at the hospital because were able to give the children something they weren’t able to see daily,” says Living Legends performer Jessica Lopez. “[It] allowed me to learn that the tour was not about us.”

During the tour, the group visited several cultural sites. One of the most influential was the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. The group was emotionally affected as they walked through the barracks and crematorium to learn about the fatal history. “It was a very somber experience,” says Living Legends performer Jared Cuessy. “It was inspiring that people are forgiving.”

In Horgen, Switzerland, Living Legends performed in Schinzenhof Hall for a pack audience, some of whom had traveled up to four hours to see the performance. Later in Lucerne, Switzerland, the group rode the steepest cogwheel railway in the world that reaches Mount Pilatus’s summit at 7,000 feet tall.

The tour came to an end as the group gave their last performance at the renowned Berlin University of the Arts. The venue was filled with diverse attendees coming from all parts of eastern Germany. “Hindus, Jewish, Muslim, and politicians came to take part in the performance,” says Ralf Bartsch, from an interfaith society.

The audience members personally thanked BYU Living Legends for their beautiful presentation. Cuessy says, “Even though language barriers existed we were still connected. Even if we touched one life it was time well worth. There are so many results we will not be able to see, the impact of one life is more than enough.”