A Graceful Maiden's Memoir

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song!" - Psalm 28:7

Monday, July 24, 2006

Ballet Magnficat! Summer Dance Intensive 2006

Mom and I traveled to Jackson, Mississippi on July 3rd to attend Ballet Magnificat's summer dance intensive. It had been my dream to attend one of these intensives ever since I was little, so it was a bit unreal to actually be at THE Belhaven College, and realize that I would be staying there for almost two weeks. We arrived on campus around noon, and after checking in and eating lunch I had a few hours to unpack and rest before orientation. About an hour after we had arrived, I got to meet my roommate! It was a real blessing to find out that her name was Sophia Heinkle, she home schooled, had 10 siblings, and actually lived in Alabama, a few hours away from us. What's more, we figured out that we had both gone to the same Ballet Magnficat! performances in Birmingham on numerous occasions! It's amazing how God orchestrates things! =)

Orientation was at 4:30 p.m., in which the Ballet Magnificat! staff laid down the rules and expectations they had for us while at the workshop. The rules weren't very hard for me... No cell phones except during special times (I didn't have a cell phone anyways!), no running or screaming in halls, lights out at 10 p.m., being punctual to classes and chapel, and no pairing off with guys, which I didn't want to do anyway! The hardest one for me to follow was to not walk alone. I usually managed to find someone going where I needed to go though, and Sophia and I walked together whenever possible. Mom left after orientation, as I prepared for the placement class to begin at 6:30 p.m.

The placement class was taught by Mrs. Sol, the primary ballet mistress at Ballet Magnficat! It was pretty hard for me, as everything was very quickly shown and spoken in French, but I followed along as best as I could. I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn while at the workshop, since there were many things I'd never really done before.

The next morning, July 4th, we learned the levels we had been placed in. On a level of 4 to 10, 10 being the highest, I placed at level 5 and Sophie at level 6. It was a bit disheartening to go from being in the highest classes at home, and being one of the best dancers, to being in one of the lowest levels, and being one of the worst dancers in the class! I resolved however, to do the best I could where I was placed, and learn as much as I could for God's glory.

That Tuesday, everything started in full swing. A typical day was: wake up around 6:15 a.m., Breakfast at 7 a.m., chapel at 8:30 a.m., ballet technique at 10-11:45 a.m., lunch at noon, two afternoon classes, supper around 5 p.m., then evening activities until lights out at 10 p.m. Yes, the days were very full, yet fun!

Ballet Technique proved to be one of the most enjoyable, yet one of the most challenging classes for me. Each class was taught by a different member of the Ballet Magnficat! staff or company. I had a lot of trouble, especially in the first classes catching on to the way things were taught. In my classes at home, we would do some barre work, a little across the floor, then work on our dance. Here, things were way more advanced! We had barre work for almost an hour each day. The combinations that they gave us were tricky for me, especially at first. I had never really had moves or exercises combined like they were there, and there were a few things I'd never even heard of! I must admit, that I often would watch the person in front of me, to figure out what we were supposed to be doing, for my brain just would not seem to pick things up very quickly! By the second week, however, I began to get more into the swing of the things, and pick things up faster. I no longer had to watch other people as much, and could concentrate more on doing the exercise well, rather than just trying to do the exercise! I've figured out that I have much to work on in the areas of turnout, flexibility, strength, ballet vocabulary, and catching on to combinations, and I learned a lot in each of these areas while there.

As I said, the afternoon classes were varied, having 2 different types of classes each day. Some I really enjoyed, others were, well, interesting, but I of course learned a lot!

Variation was one of my favorite classes. In it we learned a dance, which was most like what I was used to at home! The first week we had 3 variation classes, and we learned a dance entitled Freedom, that Ballet Magnficat! had at one time performed in one of their tours. It was a lot of fun, and really neat to be learning a dance that Ballet Magnificat! did! In the second week's 3 variation classes, level 5 learned a lyrical dance to Jeremy Camp's song Nothing Else I Need, or something like that. It was taught by my sweet counselor, Betsy (more on her later!) and was really enjoyable!

Jazz was one of the hardest classes for me. We had 3 classes of it, which were quite interesting! I'd never taken any jazz before, so catching on to the moves when almost everyone else knew what they were doing was really hard. I learned a lot in the area of jazz, but I know that ballet will always be what I want to do mostly. I have a hard time being jerky and “jazzy”. However, I was really glad that I was being taught jazz at a Christian dance place, so that there were none of the provocative moves so prevalent in jazz today. All the moves were clean, just foreign to me! Kathy Thibodeaux's daughter Tara taught the class, and she was amazing!

Another hard class was Conditioning. In it we did all the various muscle and flexibility building exercises. Each class I thought I was about to die, and didn't think I'd possibly be able to get through all of the strenuous stuff, but God pulled me through each time. It really teaches you to pray and rely on Him for strength! =) Thankfully, we only had 3 Conditioning classes, and they really did help build my muscles and flexibility. We had two classes with Kristin Hill, and one with more Pilates, taught by Katie Garwood.

Another... interesting... class was Modern. It wasn't too bad, I'd just never taken any modern, save one weird class at home, so most things were quite weird and hard to get used to. The two classes I did have were enjoyable, however, and I learned a lot from the teacher, Hannah Beaver.

There were two Improvision classes, one taught by John Vandervelde, and another by Erin Beaver. They focused mostly on bringing out one's God given creativity, and ways to use it in dance. Some of it was a bit awkward, such as dancing out the alphabet, but it was fun! =)

Finally, we had 4 Pointe classes, 2 taught by Mrs. Tracy, and 2 by Mrs. Sol. I had a lot of trouble with blisters and aching feet, since my pointe shoes were new and hadn't been broken in, and since I hadn't danced regularly on pointe for more than a month. I of course, learned a lot however, even through the pain. During the last class on Thursday, July 13th my ankle began hurting whenever I rolled up on pointe, so I took the class in flat shoe, and a girl in my class lent me her ankle brace. Praise God though, for my ankle didn't give me any more trouble after that!

I really enjoyed the teachers at Ballet Magnificat! It was really inspiring to be taught by members of the company, even one class by Kathy Thibodeaux! At times it seemed unreal... I was really in a class taught by someone from Ballet Magnficat! However, they were like any other person. They didn't put on any airs because they were so good or anything. They cared about us, and tried to help us as best as they could. It was wonderful to be able to learn from such Godly dancers, who served God with their talents.

While at the workshop, I learned about far more than just ballet, however. Each morning, and many evenings we were taught from God's word. At each morning chapel, different Ballet Magnificat! staff gave their testimonies, and it was encouraging to hear how God had worked in each of their lives. The theme for this years intensive was “Redemption”. I learned a lot from all of the things brought to light through God's word, about our need for a Saviour and how Jesus' blood washed us clean. I have been a Christian ever since I was small, yet Jesus' gift became more precious to me as I realized the depth of my own sin, and the depth of His sacrifice. He truly did redeem even me from a life of hopelessness and sin, into a life of joy in His presence. At first I had known that I needed a Redeemer, and had accepted His redemption, yet while there God showed me that even though I hadn't done all the “bad stuff” that so many had (thanks to growing up in a Christian home), I still sinned against Him in areas of pride, judmentalism, and cowardism, just to name a few. He helped me renounce them, and press deeper into my relationship with Him. There's still a lot to work on, but He is faithful.

I also learned a lot about worship. I became more free to worship Him even with others around, though at times it's still frightening. It was really encouraging how everyone at Ballet Magnficat! really tried to teach us to worship and not perform, as so many dancers do. They even had 3 nights which they called Creative Worship, where they played different songs and had the floor open for people to dance and worship God however He led them. During the second creative worship, God really moved, and 20 or more people were saved, and one girl even got delivered from anorexia! God is so awesome!

The first Thursday we were there, they also had us listen to a teaching on purity called “Beyond Virginity to Purity”. I was pleasantly surprised that Ballet Magnficat! addressed such a touchy issue. It was a really good teaching, and was encouraging to hear about how to not only stay pure, but to also keep your mind pure. It was really nice to have the people at Ballet Magnificat! address such a thing, and we even had a discussion in our small group after the teaching, which was wonderful!

My counselor at Ballet Magnificat! was the best! Her name is Betsy Green, and she's a company member with Ballet Magnficat! She was actually home schooled her whole life and has 8 siblings! She isn't yet married, and is waiting on God for His choice for her life. She was so sweet and kind to us, always doing little things to make everything special. Each day she'd have a prettily decorated schedule posted on the wall, and also made posters with Bible verses on them. It was really fun to hear her in our small group times as she would enthusiastically bring to light a lot of hidden “jewels” as she called them, in God's word. She was on fire for God and zealous about spreading His word, and was still a delightful lady, with a sweet disposition and amazing character. I hope to keep in touch with her and learn still more from her.

My small group was a lot of fun as well! There were 10 of us staying in the dorms, and 1 girl that was off-campus, but sometimes joined in with us. We had fun times getting to know each other, and just doing crazy girl things. =) I was blessed to be a part of such a group. We even had a secret sister while there. I had Kelsy, and it was fun leaving notes and things outside of her door. Ashley had me as her secret sister, and she left such fun notes, and even some pop rocks for me to enjoy!

My birthday was the 3rd day of camp, July 5th, and it turned out to be a really special day! Sweet Betsy made it really special. When I woke up, I opened my door to find it decorated with balloons and verses, and a kind note and some candy, including a chocolate rose outside of my door! Betsy also gave me a birthday ribbon that I had to wear part of the day, announcing that it was my birthday. She didn't stop there however. I went on to find 3 other signs scattered throughout the dorm announcing that it was my birthday! Needless to say, it was a very memorable day. That night, after small group time, Betsy even had a party for me in her room! I had a tiara and clip-on earrings to wear as the birthday princess, and the others had party hats. She even had Little Debbi cupcakes, complete with candles for me to blow out! We then had fun and played Killer Uno, which is a fun version of an otherwise pretty relaxed game! I was so blessed to have a birthday that I'll never forget.

On Friday, July 14th we had the student concert. There were around 25 different numbers, with a lot of dancing, but some music, singing, and acting. I danced to Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns. We had to audition our piece the first Sunday we were there. At the audition I was really nervous and shaky, and had a hard time getting everything done. However, at the student concert God gave me peace, and despite at first not having the music play and having to go out-of-order, God helped me dance full-out for His glory, without much fear at all!

Mom and Lydia came Friday night, and it was nice to see them after being gone for so long. We left to drive home early Saturday morning, and while I was sad to leave everyone, especially Betsy, it was nice to be going home, to more rest! We danced for 4 ¼ hours every day except Sunday, so I was glad to be going home to get rested up a little. I got used to dancing that much, and it wasn't TOO tiring, yet it's nice to have a break. I'm looking forward to the fall however, and am excited to see what opportunities will open up for me to learn more and teach others to praise God with the dance! (Psalm 149:3, and 150:4)


  • At 2:22 PM, July 24, 2006, Anonymous Kristin said…

    Sounds like you had a blast! I'm glad you're back and am looking forward to future posts :)

  • At 3:19 PM, July 24, 2006, Blogger Elijah Lofgren said…

    Glad you had such a great time!
    Good to have you back home after being gone so long! :)

  • At 4:28 PM, July 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow, Anna,
    How LONG did it take you to write this post? I am so impressed! Thanks for sharing your life with us. By the way, are you keeping a "hard copy" of all your entries or at least putting them on a back up disc? Since this is a "memoir" in the making, you sure don't want to run the risk of losing it all.
    Hoping to see you soon,
    Mrs. Lavonne (Miriam's mom)

  • At 4:52 PM, July 24, 2006, Blogger Susan said…

    Wow! What a neat experience. Thanks for sharing :).

  • At 5:20 PM, July 24, 2006, Blogger une_fille_d'Ève said…

    Thank you for taking the time to write everything down. I loved reading about what you did and all you experienced! Praise God that your dream for so many years finally became a reality.

  • At 5:23 PM, July 24, 2006, Blogger Jessica said…

    Oh, that was so fun to read! Brings back memories of three summers ago when I went... Does Miss Sol still say, after executing an incredibly complicated routine...in her Puerto Rican accent..."Now you know, now you do!"?

    Glad you're back and that you had such a great time...

  • At 5:52 PM, July 24, 2006, Blogger Anna Naomi said…

    I'm glad you all enjoyed the post! I wasn't sure everyone would find it interesting, but I decided to write it anyway. It took me a while to write, Mrs. Lavonne, and yes, I am backing up my memoir on our computer, and will be burning it to a cd. I sure don't want to lose it all! I've even heard of a place that will make your blog into a book, for a fee. It sounds interesting though! It is a long post I know... =) There was just so much to say!

    I'm sure it would bring back memoies, Jessica. Yes, Mrs. Sol still says, "now you know, now you do" as we all look at her dumbfounded! :-) She was a fun teacher, although sometimes hard to understand!

    Glad you all enjoyed it, and yes, praise God that I got to go!!

  • At 7:20 PM, July 24, 2006, Blogger lioness_for_Him said…

    Wow! It sounds as if you had an amazing time. I'm so glad you had the opportunity to do something like that. Dancing, that is, and learning about and experiencing God at the same time.

    Ever so glad to have you back. :)

  • At 9:46 AM, July 25, 2006, Anonymous miriam hart said…

    Glad that you had such a wonderful and blessed couple of weeks! Sounds like you learned bunches.

  • At 4:18 PM, July 25, 2006, Blogger thepatriot15 said…

    Thanks so much for sharing that with us, Anna!

    I'm happy that your first experience at dance camp was a blessing. I can't imagine dancing at a Christian camp! What a HUGE difference that must make.


  • At 5:04 PM, July 25, 2006, Blogger Samantha C. Brooks said…

    Glad you had fun! Sounds like you had a full schedule! hhe

  • At 7:25 PM, July 25, 2006, Blogger Ella said…

    It really sounds as if you had a great time. it also sounds extremely taxing, yet I am glad you were able to dance for the Lord! That is the most important.

    I love the song Praise You in the Storm, so does my Mom. The lyrics are really good. I wish I could see how you dance. It is hard to imagine godly ballet. I mean, everything is so provocative these days:(

  • At 7:32 PM, July 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Welcome back! I've missed reading your posts, but really enjoyed reading Miriam's posts as well!

  • At 11:02 PM, August 08, 2006, Blogger Kelsa said…

    Thanks for sharing - it was very inspiring to hear someone else's 'summer story' =)
    Isn't it amazing how God blesses us with our hearts desires?!? He is good!
    I'm glad you had such a great time!


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