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Everpraise Dance Company features “Ruth: A Redemption Story”

By Staff | May 10, 2019

Allison Bivens, left, portraying Naomi, and Cori Metzgar, portraying Ruth, dance during Monday evening's "Ruth: A Redemption Story" production at Covenant Church. Toni Milbourne

SHEPHERDSTOWN — “Someone told me I would cry,” said Angela Wood at the start of “Ruth: A Redemption Story,” Monday evening at Covenant Church in Shepherdstown.

The emotional story, based on the book of Ruth in the Bible, had many in the audience feeling the same way.

The performance, produced by Everpraise Dance Company, featured students of Jefferson County Christian Home School Co-op. It was choreographed and directed by Jefferson County resident Jayme Metzgar.

The production was described as an “Old Covenant story taking on new meaning in dances set to New Covenant music, emphasizing the parallels between Ruth’s redemption and our own.”

The story from the Old Testament tells of Ruth, a Moabite woman who, along with her Israelite mother-in-law Naomi and sister-in-law, Orpah are left widowed. When Naomi chooses to leave her home in Moab and return to Israel, Orpah chooses to remain in Moab. However, Ruth remains with Naomi and the two return to Bethlehem-Judah. To gather food for the two to eat, Ruth goes to the harvest field to collect the grain dropped by the harvesters and there meets the land owner, Boaz. Boaz was a near family member of Elimelech, Naomi’s late husband, meaning Boaz had the right to care for Naomi and Ruth and free them from their financial debt. Boaz redeemed the two from another kinsman and married Ruth. The two became the great-grandparents of King David, whose lineage led to the birth of Jesus.

According to Metztgar, the ballet students began practicing for the production in September. The production offered opportunities for all ages to participate. The performance was offered on two nights, Monday and Tuesday, with each night highlighting the talents of different lead performers. In total, there were 34 dancers in the show ranging in age from five to seniors in high school.

“By having different soloists know the parts, it provides insurance as well as opportunity,” Metzgar said.

Metzgar studied ballet for 10 years at the Loudoun School of Ballet in Leesburg, Virginia and performed with the Loudoun Ballet Company in the annual ‘Nutcracker,’ but quit ballet when she graduated from high school. Her break from ballet ended a few years ago, when she dusted off her ballet shoes.

“Four years ago, when the homeschool co-op ballet teacher moved on to a different teaching job, I decided to take it on,” Metzgar said. “There are quite a few families who would never be able to afford full-fledged ballet classes. It’s more of a supplemental ballet program since students only get an hour of teaching time per week, but it’s great for students who just want to get their feet wet, or who want to just enjoy dance in a low-pressure environment. Many of my older students also take ballet classes at other studios.

“I also really like the idea of using dance for praise and worship, which is something you don’t get in most dance environments,” Metztgar said, mentioning this year’s production was a challenge for herself and her performers. “This is the third show I’ve choreographed since taking over teaching ballet at the co-op in 2016, and certainly, the most ambitious.”

Metzgar homeschools her four daughters and each of them had parts in the production this year. Her eldest daughter, Cori, played the lead role of Ruth in Monday evening’s production, joined by Allison Bivens as Naomi. Those roles went to Ella Downey, Caitlyn Graulau and Ana Graulau, respectively, for Tuesday night’s performance.