News Story

Ballet Star Swaps Stage for Suit

Jake Mangakahia, a star dancer with the Australian Ballet, has recently arrived in Toronto, Ontario, to spend two years as a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A member of the Australian Ballet Company’s corps de ballet (the first professional level), Mangakahia has received numerous accolades and awards as a ballet dancer. He was the winner of the 2012 Telstra People’s Choice Award and a nominee for the 2012 Telstra Ballet Dancer Award, the Australian Ballet’s highest honour. 

One of Mangakahia’s goals is to become a principal dancer with the Australian Ballet Company. He has worked hard to develop his ballet skills so he can reach that goal. But for two years he will put his career aspirations aside to pursue one of his spiritual goals — to serve a Mormon mission. He said, “Both of my parents served missions, and it is something I have been looking forward to doing for a long time.”

The president of the Canada Toronto Mission, Brent Scott, says he is looking forward to serving with Elder Mangakahia in Ontario. “He is a young man who has learned that with discipline and hard work you can reach your goals and also bring joy and blessings to the lives of those around you. For the next two years he will be blessing lives by building their faith through sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The Church’s missionary program is one of its most recognized characteristics. Mormon missionaries can be seen on the streets of hundreds of major cities around the world as well as in thousands of smaller communities.

Most Mormon missionaries are young men and women under the age of 25, serving in 405 missions throughout the world. Missionaries receive their assignments from the president of the Church, President Thomas S. Monson. Missionary candidates do not choose their destinations.

The missionary effort is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the gospel and baptizing believers in the name of Jesus Christ.

With only an hour permitted for physical exercise per day because of his busy missionary schedule, Mangakahia knows he will have a challenge ahead of him when he returns to the Australian stage. However, he is optimistic.

Mangakahia expressed, “I look forward to returning [to the Australian Ballet Company] in 2016, with a new perspective to bring to my dancing.”

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