Ballet Magnificat to bring faith-based dance to The Center Saturday

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Jackson, Mississippi-based Ballet Magnifcat will present "Prodigal's Journey" Saturday at 7 p.m. at The Center for Rural Development. Tickets are $10; call 606-423-3823 or email prvrbsmm@yahoo.com for ticket info.

One of the nation's most acclaimed Christian dance companies is returning to Pulaski County.

Ballet Magnificat will present "Prodigal's Journey," a modern twist on the familiar Biblical parable told through the art of dance, this weekend at The Center for Rural Development.

The event begins at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $10.

Kelly Spiro, who pastors Journey Assembly of God church in Eubank with her husband Don, has been instrumental in bringing Ballet Magnificat to Pulaski County; this will be the ballet company's third trip to the area.

"I am beyond impressed with them," she said. "My family and I have driven as far as eight hours to see them because they're just so phenomenal."

Founded in 1986 by Keith and Kathy Thibodeaux -- Keith played Little Ricky on "I Love Lucy," while Kathy danced principal with the Jackson Ballet Company in Mississippi -- Ballet Magnificat performs all over the world, touring with different shows that contain a faith-based message.

The group also puts their own updated spin on a form of dance that can sometimes be seen as rigid.

"It's ballet but it's more modern, contemporary vs. classical ballet," said Spiro.

Likewise, the group likes to put its own stamp on the stories it tells through movement. "Prodigal's Journey" is "loosely based" on the "Prodigal Son" story Jesus told in the Biblical Book of Luke.

"It's a modern update," said Spiro, "about a husband who is drawn away by the world and goes through all the temptations that are out there, and then finds his way back to his family and God."

Ballet Magnificant is bringing its "Alpha Company," said Spiro, and will also be presenting a second contemporary piece called "Heaven Come Down" along with "Prodigal's Journey."

"It is our heart's desire to get other local churches to partner with us to make this an annual outreach to our community," said Spiro. "Our hope is to bring (Ballet Magnificat) each year, using their wide list of repertoire available. They present a unique display of the Gospel through contemporary ballet."

Ballet Magnificant has been well-received in its previous trips to Pulaski County, with over 400 people having attended before.

"We had a wonderful response," she said. "We anticipate and hope for an even greater response this year."

For tickets, call 606-423-3823 or email prvrbsmm@yahoo.com for information. Call to have the tickets reservers at will call, or they can be purchased at the door.

Additionally, Ballet Magnificat is doing a dance workshop on Sunday for dancers ages 8 and up with at least one year of experience in ballet. The workshop, at Pep & Pizzazz Cheer and Dance Studio in Somerset, is from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. and costs $45.

"This opportunity for our students to train with professionals right in our town is so valuable," said Britani Shoemaker, owner of Pep & Pizzazz. "We have dancers traveling in from surrounding states to be a part of it."