Two Minot dancers have received merit scholarships to attend the summer dance intensive of Ballet Magnificat!, a professional dance company in Jackson, Miss.
Aston Cassim and Chase Eslick, both 15, were selected to attend the month-long program that begins July 7. Both are students of Rinat Mouzafarov at the Institute of Dance and Ballet Theater in Minot.
Cassim, who also received the scholarship last summer, has danced with the Institute of Dance and Ballet Theater for nine years. He was only 6 when he held the hand of his younger sister to help her through her first ballet class and afterwards begged to join the class regularly. Since then, he has danced in roughly 60 stage performances, many special community performances and performed at Norsk Hstfest every year. He has danced many solos and duets during these productions.
Chase Eslick, left, and Ashton Cassim stand at the barre at the Institute of Dance and Ballet Theater May 19. They will study at the Ballet Magnificat! Summer Dance Intensive in July.
He dances 15 to 20 hours a week while also studying piano and cello and taking advanced school courses.
Eslick began dancing with his family's Praise His Name! Dance Ministry, originally formed in Colorado in 2010. The dance ministry includes ballet-interpretive worship dance and Hebraic dance.
In the fall of 2012, Eslick and his family moved to Minot. Eslick enrolled at the Institute of Dance and Ballet Theater, where he attends classes several days a week and has participated in duets and other special dance pieces at performances.
He performs regularly with Praise His Name! Dance Ministry at presentation finales, churches, Christian functions and senior centers in the area.
Ballet Magnificat!, which has performed previously in Minot, is a renowned Christian ballet company and school with two professional troupes that tour internationally. The company's mission is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ through dance, drama and personal witness.
Cassim and Eslick said the school's Christian focus is one of the reasons they are excited to train with Ballet Magnificat! They said they hope to grow in their Christian faith as well as improve their ballet skills and experience other dance forms taught at the intensive.
Ballet Magnificat! hosts more than 300 students from around the world at its summer intensives on the Belhaven University campus. Scholarships are awarded to select students based on merit determined through audition competition. Students attend three dance classes daily along with chapel and Bible study. Student gala presentations are performed at two weeks and four weeks.