Luz de las Naciones 01

A cast of 1,000 people perform during a rehearsal of “My Family, Mi Herencia,” a cultural event celebrating families and cultures and stories from Latin America staged March 3, 2018, in the Conference Center.

The Conference Center on Tabernacle Square is gearing up for a fiesta — complete with a giant pinata

“It’ll be a party,” said Alex Melecio, a soloist who will sing as part of Luz de las Naciones.

The show, which translates to “Light of the Nations” in English, is set to happen Nov. 2 and is an annual, multilingual music production put on by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to celebrate the Latino cultures and stories within the religion.

More than 1,000 volunteers are involved in the show, which includes a youth and young adult choir, musicians, storytellers and dance groups.

Melecio, who sings “Sway” in the show, sang in both Spanish and English before a choir during a dress rehearsal Saturday afternoon. He hopes that visitors will get up and dance during the song.

Melecio said the annual event is culturally uniting and will make the audience feel like they are traveling through time. While on the large stage in the conference center, he tries to soak up the moment and connect with the substantial crowd.

“It’s all so humbling to get up there and know it’s been months, seven or eight months, to put this together,” he said.

The songs are full of energetic music and colorful clothing as dancers spin about the stage. And although a centerpiece pinata dangling in front of the organ pipes won’t be raining down candy, it will descend for part of the show.

Half of the volunteer cast has been coming for a decade, according to Israel Gonzalez-Nieri, the show’s music director.

While not every Latino culture can be represented in the show, Gonzalez-Nieri said the production includes different aspects for different years. The music was picked to reflect the theme “A Home for All,” and includes a Brazilian song and dance.

He hopes those who come feel inspired and at home.

“It’s not just for the Latino community, but all communities,” Gonzalez-Nieri said.

This year’s show will also include a Guatemalan dance to celebrate the Day of the Dead, which falls on the same day as the event. Volunteers will fly kites during the dance that represent ancestors. It’s an aspect, Gonzalez-Nieri said, that’s being done for the conference center for the first time.

He hopes the show will continue to grow in popularity.

The production is a way to represent Utah’s growing Latino population, according to Pedro Larreal, an Area Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“We are one family,” Larreal said.

He said the show celebrates that Jesus Christ is for everyone and provides increased visibility for Latino culture.

This year’s Luz de las Naciones will be at 8 p.m. Nov. 2 in the Conference Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The event is free and tickets are not required.

Large bags, backpacks, packages and strollers will not be stored and are asked to be kept outside. Small bags and purses will be allowed inside the conference center after they’ve been checked.

Braley Dodson covers health and education for the Daily Herald.

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