THOSE who attend BalletMagnificat’s performances may do morethan just enjoy beautiful dancing – theymay have a spiritual experience as well.Ballet Magnificat! is aiming for thiseffect as they perform at Teatro PopularMelico Salazar today through Sunday.San José’s Academia de BalletMagnificat contacted the American groupof the same name to perform in the TeatroPopular Melico Salazar. Both groups taketheir name from the Latin phrase “to magnifyhim.”“What’s really interesting about oursponsor in San Jose is that their name isBallet Magnificat. We couldn’t believe itwhen their portfolio came in and the namewas the same,” said Jiri Sebastian, the U.S.group’s assistant artisticdirector.María Teresa, director ofthe San José ballet academy,described both groups’dances as “Ballet for theLord.”“BALLET Magnificat!is a little different from mostballet groups around theworld. What sets us apart isthat we are a Christian company,”Sebastian said.“We try to be clearabout what we’re saying. Some peoplewould call it bold – we don’t try to hideanything, it’s all there in the open.”Though the performances do have aspecific message, Sebastian insists that thegroup’s performances have broad appeal.“A lot of people come to see us becausewe are a ballet company, and because wedo this for the Lord we try to be as good aswe can,” he said. “ We’ve never had peopleleaving disappointed because they didn’tget enough dance.“Our desire is to not only provide anight of dance, but we want people toleave the theater with their heartstouched,” Sebastian adds, explaining thatthe group will include both traditionalballet and more modern dance in its performances.“At this point, we’re planning on performingtwo pieces each night. We’restarting with a classical piece called‘Freedom’ composed by Mr. MichaelSmith,” an American composer.“THE first piece is more of a classicalpiece. The music has some Irish themes init, so it’s very fun,” Sebastian said.“We’re going to finish the evening witha ballet called ‘Journey of the ProdigalSon’ based on the parable of the lost sonfrom the book of Luke in the Holy Bible.It’s a contemporary take on the story.”In this piece, the ballet incorporates avariety of dance styles: classical ballet,modern, and even a little swing.The group is composed of experiencedprofessional dancers.“All of us have danced in the seculararena as well, but we have a desire to combineour faith with dance,” Sebastian said.This combination putBallet Magnificat! in highdemand: The 18-year-oldorganization performs 90-100 times a year, dancingfor 75,000-85,000 people inall.“We perform from hugearenas” such as theKennedy Center inWashington D.C., to collegetheaters, auditoriums,churches, all the way tosmall private gatherings, Sebastian said.MANY of the group’s sponsors arechurch communities who realize that morethan just entertainment, Magnificat alsoprovides an outreach opportunity.Sebastian hopes to get a varied audience.“A lot of guys don’t want to see a ballet,”he admits. “They’re dragged to theconcert by their wives.”However, Sebastian believes the mencan be won over.“The Lord does his work, and we haveseen lots of guys being touched in a placein their heart they didn’t know they had,”he said.The Jackson, Miss.-based group alsoconducted ballet classes for all age groups June 21-23.SUNDAY afternoon, Ballet Magnificat!will host a creative worship class for allenrolled in the classes and any members ofthe public who wish to attend.“They don’t necessarily have to bedancers to participate in class,” Sebastiansaid, adding that the class will use dancecombined with faith to form a kind of prayer.This is the first time the group will performin Costa Rica.“We’ve never been to Central Americabefore,” Sebastian said. “We are excited tocome and touch the people of San José,Costa Rica through our dance.”AFTER the Costa Rica visit,Magnificat will return to the United Statesto conduct summer classes with more than100 students from around the world. BalletMagnificat! is scheduled to perform June 25-26 at 8 p.m. and June 27 at 5 p.m.For more info, call Academia de BalletMagnificat at 259-2404 or Teatro PopularMelico Salazar at 221-5341 or 221-3756 tobuy tickets. Or visit the company’s Web siteat www.balletmagnificat.com.
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