Before their first pirouette as the county's resident dance company Friday, the Columbia County Ballet honored a man who helped make their new performance home a reality.
Ron and Kathleen Jones, the directors of the company formerly known as the Ron Jones Academy of Ballet and Augusta Dance Theatre, presented former Columbia County Library Board trustee Jefferson Hardin a plaque for his work as a champion to build the Columbia County Library and the Jabez Sanford Hardin Performing Arts Center.
"This is a privilege, and I am proud. Thank you, everybody." Hardin said. The retired dentist joined the library board in 1997 and helped lead the drive to replace the former Warren C. Gibbs Library with a new main branch.
His term on the board ended June 30, about three months after the library and performing arts center opened.
The ceremony also included state Sen. Jim Whitehead, R-Evans, who officially conferred "resident company status" on the ballet. Whitehead had helped lead the drive for a new library during his tenure as county commission chairman.
Whitehead thanked the Jones family for its work with children and teens.
"They coach a lot of kids that are going to mean a lot to (the future of) Columbia County," Whitehead said. "They give back a whole lot more than they take from Columbia County."
Bert Dean, the master of ceremonies, speaking on behalf of the Joneses, said the new center has the feeling of coming home for the couple and the company.
The ballet's designation as resident company stemmed from a recital at the arts center this year when Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross introduced the Ron Jones Academy of Ballet and Augusta Dance Theatre as the Columbia County Ballet.
The Martinez-based company has since adopted the moniker now that it has a county venue for performances.
Friday's performance included dance based on Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant and featured a performance by Ron Jones because a student dancer was injured.
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