Originally created 05/08/99

Spiritual dance adds meaning to ballet company



When the Augusta Ballet Theater performed at the Southeast Regional Ballet Association in April, choosing the right dance was important.

"When you take pieces to a dance convention, you hold your breathe," said Kathleen Jones, co-owner and director of Augusta Ballet Theater.

The company was in The Roar of Love mode -- it takes five months of rehearsal to be stage ready -- so she suggested they present a scene from The Roar of Love, called Penitents, which was based on Isaiah. But husband Ron Jones, the director/choreographer, was doubtful.

"These people are big focus-ers on choreography," said Mr. Jones.

And liturgical or spiritually-inspired dance is uncommon, said Ms. Jones. "In that arena, it was not something that had come up regularly. You wonder `Are they going to feel and see what you (feel and see)?"'

Two other companies brought spiritually-inspired dances, however, and all three were well received, she said.

Classical Ballet Memphis's Bethlehem Morning, a lyrical dance by a solo artist, got a standing ovation. Sojourn, a story of a woman who went to heaven and came back, was brought to the convention by Gwinnett Ballet Theater. "The (angel) costumes were exquisite and moved so beautifully," she said.

Dancers in Penitents are dressed in dark robes, almost like monks. "With these kinds of dances, people are more conservative," Ms. Jones said.

For Mother's Day last year, Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity invited Augusta Ballet Theater to present a dance to honor mothers. The dance, Celebrant from The Roar of Love, was preformed in the fellowship hall. Dancers wore white tops and long white skirts then and later when they portrayed angels during O Holy Night as part of First Baptist Church of North Augusta's Christmas program this year.

On Easter, Augusta Ballet performed a processional to Ancient of Days at New Hope Church of God.

People are becoming more open to liturgical dance, Ms. Jones said. "We are supposed to praise (the Lord) with all these gifts. It's just like people singing in the choir."

On stage

Who: Augusta Dance Theater

What: The Roar of Love

Where: The Bell Auditorium, Telfair Street

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 15.

Cost: $7.50 for children, $10 for adults

Virginia Norton covers religion for The Augusta Chronicle. She can be reached at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.