‘Luz de las Naciones’ conveys testimonies through song, dance

Event celebrates Latino, Polynesian LDS culture

Fili Sagapolutele is a busy man — a local attorney with a heavy caseload and plenty of professional and family obligations.

Elder Rodolfo Franco speaks at the beginning of the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Elder Rodolfo Franco speaks at the beginning of the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Dancers wear indigenous costumes while depicting a market scene. Traditional music complemented the performances.
Dancers wear indigenous costumes while depicting a market scene. Traditional music complemented the performances. Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

But when the Lehi resident was asked earlier this year to help choreograph the Samoan and Hawaiian dances for the Church cultural program, he eagerly accepted.

“It’s been a big time commitment — but what better way to serve than to share your talents?” he said.

Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Actors depict an indigenous family during one of the many scenes included in the recent "Luz de las Naciones" production.
Actors depict an indigenous family during one of the many scenes included in the recent “Luz de las Naciones” production. Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Brother Sagapolutele is just one of about 1,500 Utahns involved in the production of “Luz de las Naciones: Sus Promesas” (in English “Light of the Nations: Your Promises”). It’s a colorful, festive program of song and dance that was staged Oct. 26 and 27, in the Conference Center.

The cast included hundreds of volunteers from across the Beehive State, performing songs, dances and instrumental numbers from a variety of Latino and Polynesian cultures and traditions. The program was presented in Spanish, but its message of restoration and gospel truths was, again, universal.

One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

The Church staged similar cultural programs in 2004 and 2006.

“Ours is truly an international Church,” said Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy. “Our members can be found in nearly every nation and represent many diverse cultures and backgrounds. Here in Utah, the Church recognizes and appreciates the great diversity found in the community.”

Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
A large choir and the many dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
A large choir and the many dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

“Luz de las Naciones,” he added, reflects the Church’s vast global family.

“While the program is produced locally by hundreds of volunteers, we hope its impact will stretch far beyond the boundaries of Utah through subsequent distribution and broadcast,” Elder Clayton said. “Our support of the event is another example of the Church’s international outreach and inclusivity.”

Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Women in decorative skirts perform Venezuelan folk dance during the "Luz de las Naciones" cultural event at the Conference Center. The program celebrated the rich cultures of Latin America and the Pacific Islands and included a cast of thousands.
Women in decorative skirts perform Venezuelan folk dance during the “Luz de las Naciones” cultural event at the Conference Center. The program celebrated the rich cultures of Latin America and the Pacific Islands and included a cast of thousands. Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

The program recounted the varied traditions of a great white god that’s prolific among the native inhabitants of North and South America and the Pacific Islands. The coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the prophesied return of Jesus Christ are also highlighted. The cultural performances culminated in a dramatic depiction of the resurrected Christ appearing to the Book of Mormon people in the Americas. A young actor also portrayed Joseph Smith symbolically accepting the Book of Mormon from the prophet Moroni.

Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
Dancers participate in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

Cast members hoped audiences would be moved by the program’s inclusive message.

“This [is] a wonderful event to help bring communities together,” said cast member Annya Becerra, an Orem resident and a native of Mexico.

“Luz de las Naciones” was recorded for future international broadcasts via BYUtv International.

One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
A young dancer adorned in lace and a billowy skirt couples talent and enthusiam to perform a Latin folk dance .
A young dancer adorned in lace and a billowy skirt couples talent and enthusiam to perform a Latin folk dance . Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012
One of the many dancers participates in the final dress rehearsal for the LDS progarm, Luz de las Naciones (Light of the Nations) at the LDS conference center in Salt Lake City Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 Credit: Brian Nicholson, Deseret News

The event was not limited to the performing arts. An art exhibit featuring the works of Latin American and Polynesian members was displayed at the Conference Center.

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