‘I AM: The Journey’ based on President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel opens Saturday

Jun 15, 2022, 6:44 PM | Updated: 7:59 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The Center for Latter-day Saint Arts is sponsoring an international production of “I AM: The Journey.” It’s a music, dance, and art production that was based on President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel to ‘root out racism.’

Yvonne Baraketse led the small group of performers as they rehearsed for the culturally-diverse Latter-day Saint production.

She is President of Ngoma Y’Africa Cultural Center. “It’s just a way to show how the different countries and cultures tie in together, can make a whole beautiful puzzle and a beautiful piece of humanity,” Baraketse said.

“I Am: The Journey” means to declare.

Baraketse was born in Africa and is both European and American now. She’s a mother, a teacher, and a Latter-day Saint.

She said, “To include other people who are different than us, that’s where the understanding starts, and when there is understanding, there is peace.”

The production includes dancers, singers, and other performers. Each group has the opportunity to present life stories, to show how faith and cultures unite to make unique statements through art.

Kori Wakamatsu is a co-choreographer and BYU Associate Professor of Dance. She said, “We talk about being a worldwide Church but often it can feel like you might be alone. I think that this kind of project builds community in really meaningful ways.”

She and BYU Assistant Professor of Dance, Keely Song, and Kori Wakamatsu created a piece titled “Striving”.

Their students started with movements that recreate microaggressions or actions of discrimination against their ethnic minority.

Keely said, “They also came up with a gesture of micro progression, when striving, when strides were being made towards greater equity and towards greater inclusion.”

Baraketse wants the audience to have some takeaways from the production. “It’s called ‘ Ubuntu’. Ubuntu means humanity, it means oneness, it means acceptance, it means leaving the place feeling better,” she said with a smile.

Song explained another important part of their vision. “There is that wall of audience to the performer. And we’re hoping to break that down, that wall, and to give the audience a chance to explore and to find within themselves their creative spark.”

The creativity within the “I Am” project also features the visual arts.

Tyrone Whitehorse, a Navajo silversmith, and painter believes we can learn from one another.

“We are all brothers and sisters, that we are all from the same family but our diversity, our differences, and culture, do nothing more than enrich the human race,” Whitehorse said.

Visual arts and performing arts come together in “I Am: The Journey”.

The performance is free but you need tickets and can get them through Temple Square events.  

It is Saturday at 7:30 pm in the Conference Center Little Theatre.

The visual arts exhibition will feature 30 different artists and is available to the public Friday through Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm in the lobby of the theatre.

The exhibit will then move to the downtown Deseret Bookstore for several weeks.

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‘I AM: The Journey’ based on President Russell M. Nelson’s counsel opens Saturday