In 1986 when Kathy Thibodeaux and her husband, Keith, decided to start a Christian ballet company, people thought they were crazy. At the time, Kathy, a silver medalist in the 1982 International Ballet Competition, was a dancer with Ballet Mississippi, and the couple had a stable life. But, Kathy says that she felt like she was not supposed to renew her contract with Ballet Mississippi. Two months and four dancers later, Ballet Magnificat! was born.
"When I left Ballet Mississippi, it made the papers, and the president of Belhaven called me and offered his support," Kathy Thibodeaux says. Churches and private businesses followed suit, pledging their resources.
Today, Ballet Magnificat has two full-size ballet companies, Alpha and Omega, and they recently celebrated their 20th year as the premier Christian ballet company in the world. They also have a school of the arts, which offers Pilates, jazz, and ballet classes to young children and adults. Under the umbrella of the school of the arts, Ballet Magnificat! has a trainee program for young serious dancers who want to cultivate their art and technique. Beyond the trainee program, students can be offered an apprenticeship to learn their craft alongside professional dancers, and some are invited to dance with the Omega company.
The two companies are about 40 strong together, and dancers come from as far as Poland to dance with Ballet Magnificat! Alpha and Omega tour around the world during most of the year, traveling to Germany and the Czech Republic, among other countries, and return to Jackson in the winter to perform "A Christmas Dream" and in the spring to perform "Scarlet Cord" or "Deliver Us" at Thalia Mara Hall.
In addition to winter and spring performances, Ballet Magnificat! offers a summer dance intensive workshop to young dancers from around the country and the world, which lasts two weeks.
In 1986 when Kathy Thibodeaux and her husband, Keith, decided to start a Christian ballet company, people thought they were crazy.
I'm sure they did. Back in the day, a lot of religious sects discouraged dancing, and many still do.