It all began with a dream and a prayer– a dream to glorify God through her art.
And 20 years later, Ballet Magnificat! is the world’s first Christian ballet company, drawing dancers from all over the world. Founder Kathy Thibodeaux is amazed at the ways God has blessed her life and the dance company formed in 1986.
“The Lord has been so faithful,” Thibodeaux said. “To have started out with no dancers, no support and to see things grow like they have. I stand amazed every day.”
Headquartered in Jackson, Ballet Magnificat! now has over 400 students enrolled, and most of all, the students share Thibodeaux’s love for Christ. Together, the company is “bringing back dance” to the Christian community.
“We are grateful to be a part of the body of Christ, and we pray that God will use our ministry to be a blessing,” Thibodeaux said.
It all began over 20 years ago when a conflict arose at her former dance company over a music selection she was to perform at the International Ballet Competition. Thibodeaux wanted to dance to Sandi Patty’s “We Shall Behold Him.” Critics within her ballet company and within the International Ballet Competition said the piece was “too religious” and pressured her to select new music.
After months of defending her selection, Thibodeaux danced to “We Shall Behold Him” at the final round of the International Ballet Competition. She received the night’s only standing ovation, and a silver medal.
From the conflict was born a dream. Thibodeaux declined offers to dance all over the world in order to build on the dream God laid on her heart that night. A dream that would take root in Jackson, Mississippi.
Four years later, Thibodeaux left the dance company that disagreed with her music selection to create a company that would glorify God through dance. She had nothing but a passionate vision and a calling. But in 1986, Ballet Magnificat! was the world’s first Christian ballet company.
The name Ballet Magnificat! comes from Mary’s song, The Magnificat! from Luke 1:46, “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”
That was 20 years ago and Ballet Magnificat! has grown to over 400 dancers with performances all over the world. It has been hard-fought success, but critics in and outside of the Christian community are opening themselves to the possibilities of Christian dance. And even the government is beginning to accept the company as a school, finally approving vistas for international students to attend.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I was first introduced to Ballet Magnificat! at one of their early performances in the late 80s -early 90s at a performance at the Grenada Center of Holmes Community College. This is part of an interview with Thibodeaux for “A Christmas Dream” for the cover story in the December 2006 edition of North Mississippi Christian Family, which you can read at NMSCF December 2006 Ballet Magnificat.