City Scene

The Promise of Christmas, In Dance

Local Hispanic pastors helped Briarwood Ballet translate “Light Eternal” into Spanish. This version will be performed at Briarwood Church on December 10.

When an angel of the Lord proclaimed the Messiah’s birth, it was the fulfillment of God’s longstanding promise to redeem His people from the curse of sin. Briarwood Ballet’s performance of “Light Eternal” brings this Christmas promise to the stage in a very captivating way.  Set to music and poetic narrative, “Light Eternal” begins with Creation and the serpent’s cunning confessions. “Those lies whispered to Adam and Eve poisoned all of us, [suggesting] God can’t be trusted and He is holding back what is good. When they sinned, the whole earth was cursed. The thorns entered the garden,” explains Briarwood Ballet Executive Director Peggy Townes. “But there was a promise that God would restore what He made and would redeem His creation.” Written by Townes and choreographed by Briarwood Ballet artistic director Ken Tolle, the two-hour ballet goes on to depict the birth of Christ and explore how Satan’s lies continue to plague the heart of man. Was Christ really the Promised One? Can God really be trusted? Townes says the show concludes with a depiction of Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, celebrating that all who trust in God’s promises will rise again. “If we are His children, we will have a future with Him in glory.”

The daughter of Briarwood Presbyterian Church’s Frank and Barbara Barker, Townes has a background in musical theater and took over her mother’s role as Briarwood Ballet’s executive director in 2012. Today the program has 450 students and offers two tracts–an Intensive Program focused on classical ballet and an Enrichment Program with influences from contemporary dance. Briarwood Ballet dancers have participated in summer programs with American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet and some have continued to dance professionally with the Alabama Ballet, Nashville Ballet, San Francisco City Ballet and Ballet Magnificat.

Ballet Exaltation, the performing arm of Briarwood Ballet’s Intensive Division, has been invited by international missionaries to perform in China, Korea, Brazil, Russia, Sweden, Kazakhstan and Cuba. They performed “Luz Eterna,” the Spanish translation of “Light Eternal,” in three different Cuban cities last spring. “While we were there we began to think about the whole Hispanic community in Birmingham,” Townes says. “Here we were prepared with something that could be an outreach, something we could do for them as a gift.” Briarwood Ballet will perform “Luz Eterna” at Briarwood Presbyterian Church on Dec. 10 at 7:00 p.m. The original English translation, “Light Eternal,” will be performed on Dec. 11 at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free for both performances.

-Camille Platt

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