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SONdance puts Christ back into Christmas
Jolynda Lyon wants to put Christ back into Christmas.

For the last 18 years as the founder and director of SONdance Ministries, her dance programs have been giving local children a Christian alternative to what some parents might find too provocative at other dance studios.

And after adding a Christmas presentation six years ago, Lyons is now staging a performance that will utilize more than 120 dancers from 31 different churches that she hopes spreads the message that the real reason for the season shouldn’t be forgotten.

“A Christmas to Remember” begins tonight at 7:30 p.m. at The Place of Refuge, 486 Button Ave. Tickets are $8 at the door.

“Over the years Christmas has just become so commercialized, and we wanted to put together a program that doesn’t focus on Santa or Frosty the Snowman,” Lyon said. “It’s all about that little stable in Bethlehem, and we’re trying to bring that back again.”

At the core of the performance will be more than 120 dancers from throughout San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties that are participating through their churches to help spread the conservative dance approach.

Staging such an intricate ordeal, however, is no small feat.

On Thursday afternoon dozens of dancers ranging from kindergartners to college students rolled through the doors of The Place of Refuge’s Worship Center for a formal dress rehearsal. Racks of costumes selected for each dancer filled the corner of the foyer while parents and students conversed about the upcoming performances.

The run-through was the culmination of four months of work by the SONdance instructors that did everything from choreographing the dances and picking the music to designing the costumes to fit the overall theme.

While Kari Hoffman ran through several warm-ups with her ballet dancers, Lyon was scurrying about making sure that everything was in place for the opening night performance that is expected to draw hundreds.

“Hopefully we’ll be getting the message back out and put Christ back into Christmas,” Lyon said. “There’s a huge movement to be politically correct – stores using Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. We’re not politically correct and we’re going against the grain hoping that the traditional meaning of Christmas will shine through.”

An additional Saturday matinee will be held at 1 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the door for $8. The Place of Refuge at 486 Button Ave. can be accessed by either Yosemite or Cottage avenues.