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School of dance offers public a Christmas gift Dec. 7, 8 and 9

After more than 45 years of teaching dance to young students, Linda Martin is daring to venture into the unknown.

Martin, who usually holds her Martin's School of Dance annual Christmas review at Sunnyside High School, will direct a full ballet within a church.

"We decided to go with the church atmosphere because of the ballet's theme," said Martin, who will present The Gift of Christmas-The story of the life of Jesus at The First Baptist Church in Sunnyside.

The ballet will open at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7, 8 and 9 at the church, located on the corner of Eighth Street and Decatur Avenue.

""It will be a ballet form of dance to Christian music, telling the story of the life of Jesus Christ. This will be the first of its kind in Sunnyside that I'm aware of," said Martin.

"We'll open with carols and then go to the true meaning of Christmas. We'll go beyond the Nativity, with verses talking about Christ's teachings and touching on the high points of his life, including His death and resurrection," Martin said.

"But it's still not a long show, about 50 minutes, so, obviously, we are not going into it indepth," she said.

"We have 28 youngsters in the show and there will be several specific roles. LeAnn Lopez of Sunnyside, who is 14 years old, will take the part of Mary, but will also dance all through the show. We were looking for a Joseph, and just recently found Matt Barr, a high school student, for that part," said Martin.

No dancer will take the role of Jesus, she noted.

"Since it is a ballet, it will be narrated," said Martin, adding that her husband, Jim, "an old disk jockey" will do the narration.

Heidi Graf will be assisting with visual aids and scenes via Power Point that Martin described as "just beautiful".

Staff at The First Baptist Church are strongly supporting Martin's School of Dance in Martin's first attempt at bringing her dancers into a church setting with this type of special message.

"The church printed the tickets and posters and is really helping us, and it is decorated beautifully," said Martin.

The cast has been outfitted, at each dancer's own expense, from costume distributors from Colorado to Florida and Martin said the results should be stunning.

"We open with Deck the Halls with all the dancers in white and silver. The entire show is going to be mostly white with accent colors, depending on the dance they will be doing. The costumes will be contemporary, not authentic Hebrew dress, but the audience will recognize who they represent," said Martin, promising a surprise representation midway through the ballet.

A major adjustment in this year's review will be the lack of lighting and technical assistance Martin received from the Sunnyside School District when her performances were staged in the high school auditorium. "But we have help and we're bringing it all together," she said.

"We've never done this before. It's like uncharted territory and I'm excited about it," said Martin.

Admission to the ballet is free, but tickets are needed to assure seating. Tickets can be obtained by stopping by Martin's School of Dance at 505 South Seventh Street in Sunnyside from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday or at The First Baptist Church at the corner of Eighth Street and Decatur Avenue.

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