Christian ballet company returning

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 6, 2010

NATCHEZ — Ballet Magnificat dancers brings more than beautiful dance moves to town when they perform.

They also bring a message.

Ballet Magnificat, a Jackson-based Christian ballet company, travels across the United States and in Europe using dance to promote the Christian gospel.

The company will be in Natchez for the second year in a row at 7 p.m. on June 18, at the Natchez City Auditorium.

The show is once again being organized as a fundraiser for The Guardian Shelter by the Outreach Sunday school class at Parkway Baptist Church.

Class member Carolyn Ridley said after the success of last year’s event, the class wanted to bring the dance company back to Nathcez.

“It is a two-fold benefit,” Ridley said. “We are able to assist The Guardian Shelter financially, and Ballet Magnificat shares the message of the gospel.”

Tickets for the event are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. They can be purchased at Parkway Baptist Church, Anruss Salon or the Guardian Shelter or by contacting Ridley at 601-301-1383 or Sunday school class member Dorothy Sylvester at 601-445-9185.

All tickets are for open seating. The doors open at 6:30.

This year the Alpha Company from Ballet Magnificat will perform “Deliver Us.”

“Deliver Us” tells the story of the Israelites enslaved in Egypt under the oppressive regime of the pharaoh.

Tour Director P.J. Beaver said the performance tells the story of Moses as the Israelites deliverer and parallels that to Jesus’ role as the deliverer for humanity.

“It uses the music from the ‘Prince of Egypt’ movie to tell the stories,” he said. “It is a powerful message.”

Ridley said the story is an emotional journey.

“It is a story of encouragement and hope for the people of God who were crying out to God, and He heard their prayers and delivered them,” Ridley said.

Ballet Magnificat was formed 24 years ago by Kathy Thibodeaux, as her way of using her talents to promote Christianity.

Now Ballet Magnificat has grown to have two full-time touring companies with dancers from across the United States and from abroad.

“What really sets us apart is the message we express,” Beaver said. “Other touring ballet companies will do very familiar stories, and, while our stories might be familiar they are very distinct in that they are directed toward the gospel of Jesus Christ who has changed our lives.”

Ridley said many people who saw last year’s Ballet Magnificat performance have been asking if the company will be back in Natchez.

“There were so many people that came last year and are planning to come to the performance again because of the quality of dance they saw last year,” Ridley said.

The show is a good family event. Ridley said it is even a good performance to bring dad to for an early Father’s Day outing.

“What stood out to me last year is how the men who came prepared to sit back and take a little nap were anything but napping,” Ridley said. “It is just a different show than people were expecting. It is a cross between ballet, drama, creative dance and worship.”

After all the expenses are paid to bring the ballet to Natchez, the proceeds will be donated to the Guardian Shelter.

Last year the event raised more than $8,000 for the shelter for abused women and Ridley is hoping to surpass that mark this year.

“We are hoping that all the people who came last year and enjoyed it so much will pass the word along so we can have a great turnout,” she said.