Ballet to focus on recovery following Charleston church shooting

Emanuel: Love is the Answer posted (Source: SC Ballet)
Emanuel: Love is the Answer posted (Source: SC Ballet)
(Source: Live 5)
(Source: Live 5)

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A full-length multimedia spiritual ballet showcasing the messages of healing and racial harmony following the Mother Emanuel AME Church tragedy will premiere in Charleston next month.

At a news conference at Mother Emanuel AME Thursday, artists, church members, and city leaders announced the news of the performance.

The ballet entitled EMANUEL: Love is the Answer, was created by the South Carolina Ballet Director William Starrett.

"When this atrocity happened... I was trying to make sense of it in my own heart," Starrett said. "Why would this happen and what are we supposed to do, what are we supposed to learn?"

From there came the idea of a ballet showcasing the changes that have happened since the Mother Emanuel shooting, and the resiliency.

"When William and I sat down to talk, he shared with me the vision, and I was excited," said Mother Emanuel AME Pastor Rev. Eric Manning. "To the point, everything is going to be done in decency and order. We're looking forward to it."

"Through the arts, we can unify," Starrett said. "Arts are a form of prayer. Through this ballet we can learn how we're supposed to live, and be united and live in love."

This won't be your typical ballet though; it's a multi-media production filled with film, art, dance and music.

"So much of media is part of our everyday lives," Starrett said. "I thought that would help us understand and help us kind of gain the knowledge."

Former state representative Jenny Horne's speech during the debate over the Confederate Flag will be part of the performance.

"It's about the people of South Carolina who have demanded this symbol of hate come off of the statehouse grounds," she said in July of 2015.

Local artist Jonathan Green's work has also inspired some of the scenes in the ballet.

"It is our prayer the congregation, the survivors and families of the nine will find this ballet to be one that will bring a sense of honor, a sense of tribute, to their family members," Manning said.

"The audience has to come away with learning, how we're supposed to be, what we're supposed to do and [be] inspired," Starrett. "To have courage and understand what they can do."

While Starrett wouldn't go into detail about the actual production, he describes it as "a work of transcendence, hope, harmony, love, forgiveness and reconciliation".

The ballet will open April 1 at Sottile Theatre at 7 p.m.

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