Keith Thibodeaux, Executive Director of Ballet Magnificat! since 1993, first came to national attention as the drum-playing son of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on the now classic I Love Lucy show. Hailed as a child prodigy, Keith started drumming at the age of two in Lafayette, LA. His abilities led him to a national tour, a starring role as "Little Ricky Ricardo," and various acting stints on television, including on The Andy Griffith Show, Route 66, The Shirley Temple Playhouse, Hazel, and many more. While attending the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, Keith joined and recorded with the then mainstream rock band, "David and the Giants."
Keith left the group after several years, but following his (and fellow band members) Christian conversion, the band regrouped under the same name and went on to become one of the nation’s top contemporary Christian music groups. As a drummer, singer, and songwriter for the Dove nominated "David and the Giants," Keith toured extensively for 10 years in the United States, Canada, Jamaica, and England, recording 9 albums before leaving the group in 1989 to pursue other interests. Since 2016 David and the Giants has produced 3 additional albums: 40th Anniversary, Still Rockin’, and What Are You Waiting For? Keith has been featured in such publications as Newsweek, People, Saturday Evening Post, Modern Drummer, CCM, and Classic Drummer Magazine. He has also been a guest on NBC's The Today Show, Entertainment Tonight, CBS's Good Morning America, and The O'Reilly Show.
In January of 1991, he joined his wife Kathy on the road with Ballet Magnificat! and in 1993, Keith became Executive Director. In addition to his current responsibilities at Ballet Magnificat!, Keith still finds time for drums and recording. Keith's book, Life After Lucy, tells the story of his life as Little Ricky on the I Love Lucy show, and subsequent encounter with Jesus Christ as Savior.
Keith and Kathy have one daughter, Tara, who is a dancer and choreographer and is married to Bryce Drew, former player in the NBA and former head basketball coach at Valparaiso and Vanderbilt University.
Founder | Artistic Director | Choreographer
Kathy Thibodeaux began her dance training at the age of six with the Jackson Ballet School under the direction of Albia Kavan and Rex Cooper. When the Jackson Ballet Company turned professional in 1978, Kathy was one of the first dancers to be contracted. Soon after being a contracted dancer, Kathy soared to the highest levels of the company, becoming a Principal Dancer, a position she held successfully until 1986.
During her tenure with the Jackson Ballet (later Ballet Mississippi), she appeared as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, the Pigtail Girl in Graduation Ball, Odette in Swan Lake - Act II, Taglioni in Pas de Quatre, and had leading roles in Les Sylphides and La Bayadere - Act II. She has danced principal roles in John Butler’s Othello, Todd Bolendar’s Stillpoint, Jean-Paul Comelin’s Daughter of Morning, and William Christensen’s Bravura, as well as such traditional grand pas de deux as Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, and Raymonda.
In 1982, Kathy was awarded a silver medal for her performance at the II USA International Ballet Competition (IBC), where she premiered her solo piece, “We Shall Behold Him.” She was featured in the 90-minute ABC/PBS documentary, “To Dance for Gold," which documented her progress through the II USA IBC and her silver medal win. She has been a guest instructor at several of the USA International Ballet Competitions and has performed for their Gala in Jackson, Mississippi.
Her desire to use her God-given talent of dance to share her faith in Jesus Christ led Kathy to resign from Ballet Mississippi and found her own company, Ballet Magnificat!, in 1986.
Through the creation of Ballet Magnificat, Kathy has performed many ensemble, solo, and principal roles, as well as choreographed several works for the company, including Creation (1987), Regathering (1988), Light Eternal (1989), Joy (1989), Thy Kingdom Come (1989), A Christmas Festival (1991), Praise Magnificat (1992), Sanctuary (1992), sections of Savior (1996), Unveiled Hope (1997), Freedom (2002), A Christmas Dream (2006) sans the “Battle Scene”, and sections of Snow Queen (2011).
In 2006, Kathy authored a children's book based on the ballet A Christmas Dream which she choreographed in honor of Ballet Magnificat!'s 20 anniversary.
In 1983, “Kathy Thibodeaux Day” was proclaimed by order of Mississippi Governor William Winter, a commendation by Mississippi Governor Ray Mabus was issued in 1989, and a resolution commending Kathy was given by the Alabama Senate in 1998. In 2008, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, along with Peavey Music Founder Hartley Peavey, presented Kathy with the annual Hartley D. Peavey Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence.
In February 2017, Kathy and Keith pioneered Ballet Magnificat! Brasil, a professional trainee program and performance company headquartered in Curitiba, Brazil. Later in 2017 Kathy transitioned from full time touring with the Alpha Company to oversee more of the day-to-day operations of the companies, Trainee Program and School of the Arts in the Jackson, MS office. She and Keith travel to Brazil several times each year to direct and build the Ballet Magnificat! Brasil program.
Kathy’s passion for the Lord is so evident and she pours herself into serving God and His people through praising Him with the dance. She feels very grateful to be living this life of service and working with her husband, Keith Thibodeaux.
Kathy and Keith have one daughter, Tara Drew, a dancer, teacher, and choreographer, who is married to Bryce Drew, former player in the NBA and former head basketball coach at Valparaiso and Vanderbilt University. Tara trained at Ballet Magnificat!, performed with the company for several years, and has set many works on the companies including The Arrival and Stratagem. Tara and Bryce Drew have one son, Bryson.
JIRI SEBASTIAN VOBORSKY
Creative Director | Resident Choreographer
Jiri Sebastian Voborsky was born in the Czech Republic and entered into professional training at the Liberec State Ballet School in 1989. In 1993, he graduated with honors, and as the top student, he was chosen to perform the lead roles of Romeo in Romeo and Juliet and Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake – Act II. During his years in the academy, Jiri had the privilege to study under Professors Gabajová and Rucký and perform for the F. X. Šalda State Theatre as well as Eternia Dance Theatre in Sweden. Upon graduation, he received a contract from the Opera Ballet of the Moravian National Theatre for the 1993 – 94 season.
However, Jiri felt the Lord calling him to turn down the contract and immigrate to the US. He began touring with Ballet Magnificat! in January 1994 as a Corps de Ballet member for the 1994 - 95 season. Jiri was promoted to Soloist for his next two seasons with the company until he was promoted to First Soloist and Assistant Artistic Director for the 1998 - 99 season. In 2005, Jiri became the Artistic Director of Ballet Magnificat! Omega, a Ballet Magnificat! Resident Choreographer, and a Ballet Magnificat! Guest Artist.
During his time as First Soloist, Jiri traveled around the United States as well as in the Czech Republic, Greece, The Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Poland, Macedonia, Belgium, Central America, Canada, Israel, Ukraine, Switzerland, Kenya, South Africa, Serbia, Armenia, and Singapore, performing and conducting Master Classes and Workshops.
In 2006, Jiri served as Adjunct Professor of Dance for Belhaven University, and in 2007 and 2009, he was a Guest Master Teacher for the Prague State Opera in the Czech Republic. During the 2009 European tour, at the request of Artistic Director, Raymund Maurin, Jiri conducted Master Classes at the Ballett Förder Zentrum in Nuremburg, Germany. That same year, Jiri taught a Master Class for the Dance Center Conservatory in Prague, as well as creating two works for “The Golden Prague Festival,” which was produced and televised by Czech National Television.
While on Ballet Magnificat! Omega’s 2011 European Tour, Jiri received an official invitation by the Artistic Director, Goran Bozhinov, of the Macedonian National Opera and Ballet Theater in Skopje, Macedonia, to conduct Master Classes for the Ballet Company and school, as well as set a full-length ballet on the company. His latest series of Master Classes includes teaching at the Dance For All, a South African school for underprivileged students, and at the Cape Town City Ballet - the National ballet company of South Africa.
Jiri Sebastian Voborsky is an internationally recognized choreographer, creating several one-act and full-length ballets. Excerpts of Jiri's works were featured at a USA International Ballet Competition Gala in Jackson, Mississippi.
His creations for Ballet Magnificat! include sections of Unveiled Hope (1997), Basic Instructions (1999), The “Battle Scene” in Christmas Dream (2006), and Snow Queen (2011).
His full-length ballets include Deliver Us (2001), Journey of the Prodigal Son (2003), Ruth (2005), Hiding Place (2006), The Scarlet Cord (2008), Before His Throne (2008), Most Incredible Christmas (2012), Face 2 Face (2013), and Light Has Come (2016).
His one-act ballets set on the Pre-Professional Level of Ballet Magnificat!’s Summer Dance Intensive include Will You Or Won’t You (2009), Wise Fool (2010), and New Vector To The Victor (2011).
In addition, he has created several works for other arts organizations and training programs: pieces for Belhaven University, a modern work for Ad Deum Dance Company, as well as No More Tears (2007) and Allegorica (2009) for the Dance Center Conservatory in Prague. Jiri was the choreographer for the "Women of Faith - Celebrate What Matters" national tour in 2012, the North Texas Christmas Spectacular in Wichita Falls in 2013, and FBC Dallas' Christmas with Steven Curtis Chapman in 2014.
Jiri’s passion for choreography and his desire for all his works is to demonstrate the gratitude of his heart to Jesus Christ and propel him to continually create as the Lord enables him. He is honored to serve the Lord with his wife Cassandra and their three children: Benjamin Isaiah, Maya Terezka, and Solomon Jeremiah.
Executive Assistant to the Directors
Brenda began her association with Ballet Magnificat! as a “ballet mom.” She eventually became a volunteer in the office, using her work experience in law offices and the mortgage bank industry to assist where needed. Brenda also home-schooled both her children, conducted Organization Equals Happiness time-management seminars, Good For You cooking classes and food co-op, and assisted her daughter with her Cross-Tied Ministries outreach productions and classes. From 2002 until 2018, Brenda held the position of Operations Manager for the ministry. She now serves as an Assistant to the Directors and works with the Brazil expansion. Brenda and her husband John have two grown children, Ben and Abigail, and one granddaughter, Elliana.
Cassandra Voborsky received training from Pamela Lauer, the Peabody Conservatory, the Hartford Ballet, the Washington School of Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and the Royal Danish Ballet in Copenhagen, Denmark. Her performing experience includes Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, contemporary modern and jazz works with Hartford Dance Theater, and classical repertoire such as Swan Lake with The Washington Ballet’s Young Dancers. Her final year of high school was spent in Oldenburg, Germany, where she had the opportunity to perform with the ballet company of the Oldenburgishes Staatstheater.
In January 1992, Cassandra joined Ballet Magnificat! She became a member of the touring company in 1993 and toured for over twelve years both nationally and internationally. Together with husband Jiri Sebastian, Cassandra served as one of the technical directors on the road. She was promoted to the Assistant Artistic Director to Kathy Thibodeaux in 2000. Cassandra retired from her professional career as a dancer in December 2004 during the annual Christmas gala performances of Ballet Magnificat! in Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, Mississippi.
Since the completion of her performing career, Cassandra has directed the Trainee Program, developing it into an international division of Ballet Magnificat, with students from the United States and many foreign countries, including Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Germany, Poland, Macedonia, Canada, South Africa, and Japan. Cassandra has conducted ballet technique Master classes all over the United States, as well as in Singapore, Greece, Belgium, Israel, the Dance Center Conservatory in Prague, the Czech Republic, and most recently in ballet schools in East London and Cape Town, South Africa. Cassandra was featured in the Braun Buffel world-wide ad campaign, shot in Singapore during the 2003 Ballet Magnificat! tour. Cassandra and Jiri have three beautiful children, Benjamin Isaiah, Maya Terezka, and Solomon Jeremiah.
Director of Personnel and Operations
Erin Beaver is originally from Kerrville, Texas. As a student, Erin received ballet instruction at the Performing Arts School of Kerrville. In 1999, Erin moved to Jackson, Mississippi, to join Ballet Magnificat!’s Trainee Program. She was promoted in 2002 to an Apprenticeship with Ballet Magnificat!'s Alpha Touring Company. In the spring of 2003, Erin moved to California to serve the Lord in a traveling drama ministry. She returned to Ballet Magnificat! in 2004 to take the position of Tour Director for Ballet Magnificat!’s Omega Company, coordinating tours for the company throughout North America, Central America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Erin came off the road in 2017 to take the position of Director of Personnel and Operations.
Tour Director | Summer Intensive Administrator
Rachel Nel came to Ballet Magnificat! from Lindsborg, Kansas. She began her dance training in 1997 with Tamara Dahlsten and continued with others such as Eve Kindall and Dunri Palmer. In 2008, she joined the Trainee Program and worked as an Office Assistant at Ballet Magnificat! School of the Arts. During her time with the Trainee Program, Rachel had the privilege to perform in several works, including: Freedom, Lord of All, Grateful People, Wise Fool, I Believe, Your Great Name, A Christmas Dream and more. She graduated from the Trainee Program in 2011 and became the School of the Arts Administrator at Ballet Magnificat! and worked extensively with the Summer Dance Intensive. In 2014, Rachel became the Alpha Tour Director. Rachel also serves as the Summer Dance Intensive Administrator. In June 2019, she married Reece Nel.
Ms. Sol Maisonet was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. At age 12 she started her training in classical ballet. Ms. Maisonet received many scholarships from the Puerto Rico Institute of Culture to continue training in Cuba and in New York City. Her instructors included Madame Maggie Black, Ramón Segarra, David Howard, Melissa Hayden, Juan Anduze, and José Pares.
For more than 25 years, Ms. Maisonet performed professionally as a Soloist and Principal Dancer with companies such as Ballet Puertorriqueño, Ballet Theatre of San Juan, Ballet Concierto, and Ballets of San Juan. In 1983, she was invited by the government of Colombia to perform as a Principal Dancer with the “Ballet Nacional of Colombia,” under Artistic Director Ramon Segarra. During her time there, she danced as the lead role in several original ballets choreographed especially for her, such as Val’s of Ravel, Stravinsky’s Firebird, Symphony in Three Movements, and Ciclos.
She performed principal roles in many classical ballets, including The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Swan Lake, Rites of Spring, Tango Expectro, The Merry Widow, George Balanchine’s Rubies, Serenade, Who Cares.
In 1990 she was invited to represent Puerto Rico in Barcelona, Spain, at the 5th Iberoamerican Festival. Performing Cuban choreographer Petra Bravo’s piece, “Que Signo Lleva el Amor,” she became a finalist. In 1992, she joined recognized choreographer Gabry Christa from Holland and Gloria Llompart from Puerto Rico to found the dance company "Danzadentro."
In 1994 she once again represented Puerto Rico in Barcelona, this time with her own choreography, "Una Vez al Mes." Ms. Maisonet represented Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, performing in the Latin-American Dance Congress with Bravo's choreography, "Un Solo Dueto," and Gabry Christa's "Matutina.”
Ms. Sol Maisonet has taught classical ballet since 1977. She developed and enhanced the Dance Department Ballet Curriculum for the School of the Arts in Carolina, Puerto Rico and choreographed for several children’s musicals including “Lilipun” and “Aladdin.” She has been the Guest Master Teacher for Summer Intensives at San Augustine Conservatory of Dance in FL, Rejoice Dance Academy in MS, Ballet Aviv in LA, and Ballet 5:8 in IL. She has served as the Ballet Magnificat Trainee Program Director and the Ballet Magnificat II Artistic Director. From 2001-2011 she served at Ballet Magnificat! as the School of the Arts Principal and developed the Upper School Ballet syllabus which is still in use today. From 2011-2016, she served as adjunct Dance Faculty for Belhaven University and was the Dance Ministry Ensemble Artistic Director. She has trained many successful professional dancers during her career.
Currently, Ms. Maisonet serves as Rehearsal Director for the fall and spring Belhaven dance concerts. At the same time, she is the Ballet Mistress for Ballet Magnificat! and is a Rehearsal Director and Master Teacher for the Trainee Company.
Director in Brasil
Melanie Joy Seeger was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she began her dance training at the age of 4. She began her professional dance training at 14 with the National School of the Arts and completed her Royal Academy of Dancing Advanced 2 with Sandra Castens. In 2001, Melanie was invited to dance with the South African Ballet Theatre; and in 2003 she moved to Cape Town to study at the University of Cape Town. While at UCT, she completed the RAD Teachers Certificate and was awarded with the RAD Solo Seal Award, the RAD’s highest performance award. At the end of 2004, Melanie joined Cape Town City Ballet.
While at Cape Town City Ballet, Melanie performed in many of the classical and contemporary ballets, including La Sylphides, Carmen, Camille, The Merry Widow, Peasant Pas de Deux in Giselle, 2 of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty, The Winter Fairy in Cinderella, Ballerina Doll in The Nutcracker, Waltz Solo in Les Sylphides and Swanhilda in Coppélia. Melanie performed in many national tours as well as an international tour to Dublin, Ireland.
In 2008, Melanie moved to Jackson, Mississippi, USA, to study and dance with the Ballet Magnificat Trainee Program, Level 2. Upon returning to South Africa, she re-joined Cape Town City Ballet. During her time at both UCT and CTCB, she was involved with teaching the CTCB Boys Development program.
In 2011, Melanie left Cape Town City Ballet to pursue full-time teaching. Melanie ran her own studio for 4 years, while also being part of the full-time course teaching faculty at Cape Academy of Performing Arts. In 2015, Melanie returned to UCT and graduated with a Diploma in Dance Education. She also taught classical ballet at UCT School of Dance, was vice-principle of the Cape Junior Ballet School, and served as assistant ballet mistress for the Cape Junior Ballet Company. Melanie aims to provide top quality teaching in an informative and enjoyable setting.
Operations manager in Brasil
Katherine “Katie” Smith grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, where she studied ballet for eleven years in addition to being involved in many diverse studies, activities, arts, and jobs. Katie is a graduate of Normandale College with an Associate’s Degree in Communications. She moved to Curitiba, Brazil, in January 2017 to become a student in the first class of the Ballet Magnificat! Brasil Trainee program. Due to her studies of French, Latin, and Spanish, Katie quickly became fluent in Portuguese and by May of 2017, she had become a translator for the Trainee Program. In January 2018 she began assisting with administrative duties for the ministry, and in May of 2018 she became the Operations Manager of Ballet Magnificat! Brasil. Katie’s myriad of past jobs, education, and experiences, in addition to her mastery of the Portuguese language and love for the people and culture of Brazil have made her a rare asset and a blessing to the ministry.
Elizabeth Quinlan is originally from Hudson, New Hampshire, and moved to Jackson to be a part of Ballet Magnificat! Trainee Program. She began her ballet training at the age of eleven under the direction of Sarah- Beth Smith of Gate City Ballet. Before coming to Ballet Magnificat in 2015, she moved to Pennsylvania to train with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet As a trainee, Elizabeth performed with the Events Company in the U.S., Guam, Asia, Mexico, and Honduras. In 2018 she graduated from the trainee program and became the School of the Arts Administrator.
Emma Harris grew up in Oklahoma City, OK, and began dancing at the age of 8 at Dove Dance School with Daphne Tardibono. It was during this time that worshiping The Lord and dance became synonymous and she learned that The Lord created dance to bring Him honor. From the beginning, He put a strong desire in her heart to use ballet for His glory and directed her steps to accomplish this very purpose.
Emma received the majority of her formal ballet training at Classical Ballet School under the instruction of Kate Luber and Amanda Herd Popejoy, The University of Oklahoma’s Youth Program with Rebecca Herrin, as well as comprehensive Vaganova training from Rebecca Zeese. In addition, she trained with Alexa Danielle Fioroni Slaughter at the Oklahoma City Ballet Conservatory.
While in training, she had extensive performance opportunities in ministry settings, as well as in both original and classical full-length ballets. She performed the Big Swan Variation from Swan Lake, was selected to dance in Tulsa Ballet’s The Nutcracker and performed the lead role of Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty.
Emma loved attending Ballet Magnificat’s Summer Dance Intensives for 4 years and entered the Trainee Program in 2013 with the desire to further her dance education and share the hope of the gospel through the art of dance. Emma toured with the Ballet Magnificat! Events Company to Tabasco, Mexico, in the spring of 2015, was promoted to Student Apprentice with the Alpha Company in August 2015, and to Company Artist in 2016.
In 2018, she came off the road and married Hunter Hanson, and now serves as Ballet Magnificat!'s Costume Mistress.
Tara Drew, daughter of Keith and Kathy Thibodeaux, began dancing at the age of three at Ballet Mississippi, and continued her training at Ballet Magnificat! School of the Arts.
At age fifteen, Tara was a semi-finalist in the 1994 USA International Ballet Competition. She received scholarships to ballet schools including Joffrey Ballet and Houston Ballet. As a young adult, she danced professionally with Ballet Magnificat, touring the United States and Europe.
Tara then moved to Atlanta, where she danced for the Atlanta Hawks Dance Team. During her career she had the opportunity to dance at the NBA All Star Game and the TNT Celebrity Game as well as choreograph for the team in 2004. She also took classes at Atlanta Ballet and taught at Impact Dance of Atlanta. She performed in many projects including the independent film “Petunia”, Mak Attack Fitness Fashion Show, and an IBM Industrial show
Tara has a passion for training students in Ballet, Contemporary, and Jazz. She has taught at Eclipse Performing Arts in Chesterton, Indiana, for the last 10 years. She has trained students for the Youth American Grand Prix and had the honor of taking one of her students to the finals in New York City. One of her students was accepted to compete in the 2014 International Ballet Competition. Her students are also scholarship winners at many competitions and conventions such as New York City Dance Alliance, Hall of Fame, and VIP to name a few. She has had students accepted to many summer programs across the country such as the School of American Ballet, Miami City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and the Carreño Dance Festival. Her students have gone on to dance professionally for Miami City Ballet, Ballet Magnificat, Phoenix Ballet, Atlanta Hawks Dance Team, and the Indiana Pacemates. One of her students has been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine, and others have modeled for the Revolution Dancewear catalog.
Tara has also received top honors and placements at many competitions for her choreography and won first place overall at the Hall of Fame nationals with a work entitled “Angels”. In 2011, Tara choreographed The Arrival for Ballet Magnificat. In 2014 she completed a full length ballet for the company titled Stratagem, which was toured across the country and overseas. In 2017 Tara was awarded the ‘Outstanding Choreographer Award” at the Youth American Grand Prix Competition in Chicago for her work titled “The Dying Swan.”
Tara resides in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband Bryce Drew, a former NBA player and former head basketball coach at Valparaiso and Vanderbilt University. They have a son named Bryson.
Slovak grew up in the Jackson, MS area. She and her husband Wes now live in Pearl with their three children, Autumn, Izzy, and Knox. She graduated from Mississippi College with a Bachelor of Business Administration. Summer has worked with fundraising in education since 2010 and has helped raise over $4 Million for schools between 2016-2019. She has a passion for Ballet Magnificat and sharing the gospel through art.
Abigail is originally from Jackson, MS, and grew up training in the Ballet Magnificat! School of the Arts. She was a member of Ballet Magnificat! Youth Ballet from 2014-2018 and served as team captain from 2017-2018. After graduating high school, Abigail became heavily involved in a local church plant, Foundry Church, working with Administration and becoming the Children’s Pastor in May 2019. She joined the Ballet Magnificat! staff in June 2019 as Office Assistant.
Marketing Logistics Coordinator