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Family dances their way into Narnia

Posted: March 21, 2012 - 12:07am
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Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes  J.J. McKinney's daughters  Melanya, 12, and Olivia, 8, help him with his costume at the Columbia County Ballet.   Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes 
J.J. McKinney's daughters  Melanya, 12, and Olivia, 8, help him with his costume at the Columbia County Ballet.
Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes J.J. McKinney's daughters Melanya, 12, and Olivia, 8, help him with his costume at the Columbia County Ballet.
Photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes J.J. McKinney's daughters Melanya, 12, and Olivia, 8, help him with his costume at the Columbia County Ballet.

When J.J. McKinney saw his daughters dancing in a previous Roar of Love production, he knew he wanted to get involved.

“I like being on stage,” said the Martinez father of six. “It looked like a lot of fun watching it from the audience.”

McKinney will play Mrs. Beaver, the female counterpart to his role last year.

He spent months preparing for the performance, along with his four children: Melanya, 12; Olivia, 8; Renwick, 6; and Seamus, 4.

“I think it’s wonderful,” McKinney’s wife Jennifer said of her family’s involvement in the ballet. “J.J. is a great example of enjoying life.”

Two showings of Roar of Love are at 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta.

Roar of Love is Columbia County Ballet’s rendition of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The performance features 300 dancers at the Martinez ballet studio, owned by Ron and Kathleen Jones.

The ballet is based on the Easter story and follows four young siblings as they explore a world full of mystique and enchantment.

Roar of Love not only attracts families each year to join the cast, but also to watch the story, Ron Jones said.

“It’s become a tradition that is a rich one that families can share together, and it just enhances their Easter experience,” he said.

Tickets cost $25 for adults and $20 for children, students, seniors and military personnel with identification.

The McKinney’s eldest daughter, Melanya, is playing the part of a flower fairy as well as a bat. Her sister, Olivia, will be a fairy sprite in the performance, while Renwick is a ghoul, and Seamus is a ghoul understudy.

“We have to look scary,” Renwick said.

The ballet experience, Jennifer McKinney said, gives her daughters an opportunity to bond with their father and her sons a chance to do something different.

“I’m just in awe of what they all do,” said McKinney, who is not in this year’s production.

J.J. McKinney, who runs marathons, said he’s realized that dancing can serve as an intense workout.

“I invite anyone who has sons to get them involved,” he said. “It’s definitely a version of strength training that’s good for young boys.”

Along the way, McKinney said he’s also learned quite a bit from his girls.

“It gives my daughters an opportunity to teach their dad a few things,” he said. “I have to ask their advice a lot.”

IF YOU GO

What: Roar of Love

When: 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Bell Auditorium in Augusta

Cost: $25 for adults and $20 for children, students, seniors and military personnel with identification

More: (706) 860-1852

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