The Ho Ching brothers, who have spent the last year performing together with BYU’s Living Legends, share their thoughts on faith, family and dance
The bonds between the dancers of Living Legends are strong, and it’s not uncommon to hear company members refer to the group as their family. But few can claim actual blood relation. Few, that is, besides the Ho Ching family. Brothers Kameron, Kaleb and Kwinton Ho Ching have spent the past two semesters rehearsing, performing and touring together as members of Living Legends, BYU’s Native American, Latin and Polynesian dance company. The brothers, who hail from Laie, Hawaii, have been dancing almost as long as they can remember.
“We all grew up dancing Tahitian and Hula,” said Kameron. “We lived right next to the Polynesian Cultural Center, and they have opportunities for kids in the community to dance at the Luau, the night show they have. So we grew up as keiki dancers, or kid dancers.” They credit their mother with the foresight and persistence that kept them dancing into their college years. “Sometimes we didn't want to go into practice,” said Kaleb. “We wanted to play like little kids, because we were. I was probably six or seven when I started, and we danced until we were 14 or 15.” “We were always going, ‘Mom, I don’t want to go to practice!’’’ added Kameron. But it wasn’t long before they learned to love it, and dancing became a central part of their lives. When the oldest Ho Ching sister, Kaisha, came to BYU and discovered Living Legends, she inadvertently began a legacy that would be carried on in turn by each of her siblings. Kwinton Ho Ching, the youngest, is now a freshman at BYU and a first-year member of the company. He joined Living Legends at the encouragement of his older brothers, who hoped he would experience the same positive growth they found in the group. “On a spiritual level, it's like missionary work,” said Kaleb. “We've both been on missions and we both did the group before we went on missions. So advising Kwinton to do the group to prepare for a mission was something that I always thought about. It helps him to get ready for a mission, and it keeps us connected as a family.”
With 10 or more hours of rehearsal per week, committing to the group can be a tough act to juggle for a busy student. But the struggle is worth it. “Honestly, it's a hard group to be a part of later on in school,” said Kameron, who is a senior studying physiology. “But my best memories come from this group.” Those memories include a lot of laughter, joking and good-natured teasing, but also moments of rich spiritual growth. “We do a lot of firesides, and those are some of the most memorable and spiritual experiences,” said Kameron. “We did one outreach in Longmont, Colorado — I'll never forget it. We walked in the room to do a Tongan piece, and there was a kid with special needs in the back. Tongan is one of my favorite numbers — it's really high energy — and this kid was so, so happy. I got this spiritual confirmation that being in the group was something that brought joy to him and to other people, and I'll never, ever forget that experience.” The experience of bringing joy to others has been a common thread throughout the brothers’ time with Living Legends, and it’s what keeps them coming back. “A lot of my favorite memories come from talking to the people after the show,” said Kaleb. “We go out into the audience to talk to people and they just want to shake your hand forever and thank you for coming. You can tell they felt the Spirit.” The brothers are quick to agree that dancing has been a unifying force in their family, among both the living and those who are gone. “The show talks a lot about remembering ancestors,” said Kaleb. “It talks about dancing for them and coming together as one. So for us to be in the group as a family, dancing together as one, it keeps us connected. We push each other to go harder and dance better, and always remind ourselves to be spiritually connected to God. It strengthens us as a family.”