Magic of Christmas: BADA’s biennial ‘Unto Us A Son’ depicts the birth of Christ

Burlington Academy of Dance & Arts (BADA) will present its biennial production of "Unto Us A Son" Tuesday and Wednesday in McCrary Theatre on the Elon University campus. / Photo submitted

Commentary by Marissa Kuczkowski
Special to the Times-News

   Every dancer’s dream is to affect their audience in some way by simply performing a series of movements set to music. However, dancing in Burlington Academy of Dance & Arts’s authentic, original production of “Unto Us A Son” provides me with so much more than just this sense of accomplishment.
Upon entering the studio during rehearsals, a peculiar magic seems to stir through the building as dancers begin to learn their all important roles. This magic is the true magic of Christmas; the story of the birth of Christ. Strolling through the halls hearing “Hallelujah Chorus” boom from one studio and seeing the tiny manger animals rehearse in another is an experience that puts every dancer and choreographer in a euphoric state. I have found it necessary to step back and observe these events and realize just how special the experience that “Unto Us A Son” truly is.
The entire production works to present an authentic retelling of one of the most well-known stories. In order to do this, each dancer is gifted with the opportunity to dance in an equally important role. After all, the story of the birth of Christ never leaves out the manger animals who surrounded the babe, rejoicing heavenly hosts, curious villagers, searching shepherds, King Herod or the three Wise Men. Seeing dancers move up through the ranks of portraying these various roles is a beautiful sight.
Last production’s manger animals become this year’s village children and stars and before you know it, each dancer find themselves in a position much like my own, performing the role of an angel who accompanies Gabriel to deliver baby Jesus. I have been given the opportunity to observe firsthand and take part in one of the most inspiring, magical and touching scenes within the entire evening length ballet: the scene of the birth of Christ.
I remember watching this scene from the audience when I was too young to dance in “Unto Us A Son” and thinking that this moment was actual magic. Unbeknownst to me, hidden behind Gabriel’s wings lay the entire meaning behind what we were doing. Somehow this magic still hasn’t been lost even as I stand and witness this same scene unfold before my bare eyes.
As we held this year’s first full cast rehearsal, I felt a similar feeling as I watched every piece knit together to create the beloved story. I realized that this was when the hard work would begin. We have all been given the steps, counts and formations, but now we must engage with our pieces in a much more intimate way as we prepare to express the large variety of emotions in the most meaningful and raw way possible. I have found it vital through the years to step into and exit these rehearsals in a specific state of mind. Each dancer finds their own way to do this, but I myself have found our time spent receiving notes and interspersed “pep talks” to be what helps me the most. These words of encouragement help connect every castmate as well as inspire each of us to connect with our roles, the ballet and its message.
Preparing to perform my last “Unto Us A Son,” I feel lucky to have received such an opportunity to not only be inspired by my fellow castmates and teachers, but to be an inspiration myself. To exude the joy and sense of miracle that not only spread through Bethlehem on that Christmas Eve so long ago, but also travels through our studio, through our dancers, onto the stage and into the community as we share this wonderful story: the story of the birth of Christ told through dance to move our community and to unfold a scene depicting the true meaning and magic behind the Christmas season.
An Alamance County tradition since 1989, this season’s performances are at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday in McCrary Theatre on the Elon University campus. Doors open at 6:30 with pre-show live vocal performance by Sola-Fide. Tickets are $12 reserved seating and $10 for general admission and will be available at the door.

 Marissa Kuczkowski is a senior at Southern Alamance High School and a dancer at Burlington Arts & Dance Academy (BADA).

 

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