Ballet Magnificat!, described as America’s premier Christian ballet company, will present its newest production, “Stratagem,” at the Cayman Islands Baptist Church on May 13 and 14.
The troupe will also offer workshops for dancers through local primary and high schools and dance schools.
“Stratagem” (a plan or scheme, especially one used to outwit an opponent or achieve an end), is inspired by C.S. Lewis’s “The Screwtape Letters,” and covers the spiritual battle between Satan and the people of God.
“We are so excited about coming to the Cayman Islands,” said Kathy Thibodeaux, founder and artistic director of Ballet Magnificat!. “It has been one of our favorite places and we are looking forward to seeing what God is going to do. We appreciate Pastor Randy and all he has done to make this trip possible.”
Thibodeaux, trained from age 6 at the Jackson Ballet School (later Ballet Mississippi) under the direction of Albia Kavan and Rex Cooper. She was one of the first dancers to be contracted when the Jackson Ballet Company turned professional in 1978. Soon after, she became principal dancer until 1986; she won the silver medal at the II USA International Ballet Competition in 1982. During her tenure with the Jackson Ballet, she appeared as the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker,” Odette in “Swan Lake – Act II,” and had several other leading roles. She has also danced principal roles in John Butler’s “Othello” and “Don Quixote,” among other productions.
Thibodeaux founded Ballet Magnificat! in 1986, and the Ballet Magnificat School of the Arts in 1989, inspired by a desire to see the arts restored to the church, and to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the largest possible audience through the medium of dance.
She was awarded the annual Harley D. Peavey Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence in 2008 by Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, along with Peavey Music Founder Hartley Peavey. Dancers performing with the ballet company have included former members of Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal, Spokane Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, the State Theatre of the Czech Republic, and Oldenburgishes Staatstheater of West Germany.
“We are thrilled at the opportunity to host Ballet Magnificat! once again and to bring their newest amazing production to the community,” Pastor Randy Von Kanel of Cayman Islands Baptist Church said in a press release.
“I first saw this group minister in 1992 and I was awestruck. When they came here in 2010, we had an amazing response, and I am certain this time will be even better. Their performances truly transcend faith and the world of professional dance. I encourage the public to support this great event.”
Sarah Hill, a 22-year-old dancer with the troupe, added: “Our passion and purpose in coming to the island is not merely to dance and teach others how to do so, but it is to share a story much greater than ourselves.
“For our second tour here in the Cayman Islands, we will present our newest ballet … the centrality of this ballet is simply the fight between good and evil, and how our lives are directly affected by this battle.
“We are also thrilled to teach workshops in the community in such a way that gives others the opportunity to express and create through the art of dance. We look forward to connecting with all ages through both of these mediums,” she said.
Ballet Magnificat’s professional Alpha and Omega touring companies, based in Jackson, Mississippi, present more than 200 programs each year on themes such as joy, forgiveness and hope throughout the U.S. and abroad.
The Alpha group will move from Grand Cayman to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo in Brazil. The Omega Group, under Artistic Director Jiri Sebastian Voborsky, is touring Germany, Italy and Poland in May. Both companies have performed in 28 countries and have been guests on the “700 Club,” TBN, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and at the Christian Music Artists Seminar in Estes Park, Colorado.
A summer dance intensive course in Jackson, Mississippi, has been organized from June 27 to July 25. It can be booked online.
Ballet Magnificat’s production of “Stratagem” is on May 13 and 14 at 7 p.m. Doors open 6 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. For more information on the troupe, visit www.balletmagnificat.com.