On Nov. 18, Grace Conservatory and the St. Augustine Community Chorus (SACC) will bring something new to the First Coast: a presentation of George Frideric Handel’s Messiah in both music and dance.
Dozens of singers and musicians will be joined by about 250 dancers to perform this classic in the Moran Theater at the Jacksonville Performing Arts Center. It will be the 75th anniversary performance of Messiah by the St. Augustine Community Chorus and the first for the dancers of Grace Conservatory.
“It’s a huge production,” said conservatory co-founder Kristina Robison. “We’re really excited to have something to bring in the Christmas season, something that’s different, something that represents the arts in a different way. And something that, hopefully, will become a Christmas tradition for many families.”
The dance portion will be a contemporary ballet, with choreography by conservatory staff.
“Each year, it will be new and fresh,” said Robison, who co-owns Grace Conservatory with husband Vaughan. “Each year, we’re going to change the choreography. Each year, we’re going to mold it and change it into something new and different.”
The performance will be divided into three parts: Part I, followed by the intermission, and then Parts II and III together. The dancing will help interpret the storyline.
“There’s such a strong narrative,” Robison said, “it’s easy to follow the storyline, which is Christ’s Birth, Death and Resurrection.”
Costuming and lighting, too, will add narrative dimensions. Costumes will be dark to start and become light with the approach of the Resurrection.
Principal performers include James Ranch as Jesus; Kayla Burford as the Angel of the Lord; soprano Kim Beasley; alto Regina Torres; tenor Pablo Pomales-Ojeda; bass Joseph Colsant; archangels Yiwen Chen, Pamela Garcia, Addison Rennie and Hope Lang; and angels Brooke Dorow, Jena Guarnera and Daley Jamison.
The biggest challenge, according to choreographer Florian Rouiller, will be timing the dance with the live music. To help facilitate that, SACC concert director Mike Sanflippo and accompanist Shannon McKay have been working with the dancers.
When Handel’s Messiah was first performed in 1742, proceeds benefitted three charities. Carrying on that tradition, 100% of the proceeds from this performance will benefit three 501(c)3 organizations: Alpha-Omega Miracle Home, Emmanuel Project of Northeast Florida and Peace of Heart Community.
Tickets may be purchased at graceconservatory.com and Ticketmaster.com. Showtime is 6 p.m.