Sunday, June 18, 2006

Woman @ the Well

WOMAN AT THE WELL 5/28/06 @ 10:30AM
New Hope United Methodist Church
7115 W. Hood Ave. (very Northwest corner of Chicago)
Chicago, IL 60631
(773) 775-1215

I love this little church. Great spirit. Great fun. And, a dancer's dream: beautiful sprung wood floor!
They asked me to dance the woman at the well. I felt intimidated. I've heard very deep (pardon the pun) analyses of that scripture passage, didn't know if I could do it justice. I didn't know what to do. I asked other liturgical dancers what they had done with it and they shared their stories. Nothing was speaking to me.
Then, the traditional song, "Jesus met the Woman at the Well," was brought to my attention. The very talented choir director, Liz Okayama, arranged a choral version, the choir learned it, and was phenomenal. I liked their interpretation better than Peter, Paul, and Mary's.
The scripture story is a story of the developing relationship between two people so it cried out for a duet. I danced and my husband moved. We were very complementary. A Sacred Dance Guild member who came said that he was a powerful Jesus in his simple movement, his demeanor, his face, and the energy between us was powerful, too.
And, as often happens in my liturgical ministry, the magic happened in the moment that Sunday after hours of fretting that I can't dance anymore, etc. I had thought that the song would follow the reading of the gospel but Liz said that it's usually done after the sermon. Well, I'm so glad it was because Pastor Bob Campbell's sermon was so moving, it inspired and informed my interpretation of the song. The theme of the sermon was "damaged goods." He held up a dented Campbell's soup can and suggested that the woman at the well felt like damaged goods.
While in my rehearsals I had envisioned her transformation from down to up, I hadn't really thought that deeply about her entrance. Listening to him, I realized that she was beaten down from the very beginning. I walked in with my water jug on my shoulder and my eyes on the floor, and I didn't look at the people until the third verse when her transformation began. And, the celebration of her realization of who Jesus was was wonderful. The dancing felt good. I can dance after all!
Pastor Bob talked about putting the dented cans at a "free table" at the food pantry, and how one man always took a lot of them. When Pastor Bob asked him about it, he said "what's inside is what counts." . . . .

I'd love to dance the woman at the well again, please let me know if you are interested.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Serving as Banner Bearer on Sunday

Sunday, May 14 @ 10:00 a.m. Service
The First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette
600 Ninth Street
Wilmette, IL 60091

May 14, which is also Mother's Day, is Confirmation Sunday for this church. To the song, "Spirit," I will process in solo with a tall red ribbon banner embodying the Holy Spirit. The ribbons will echo the red liturgical stoles that the church will be presenting the confirmands as a confirmation of the Holy Spirit's presence in their lives. As each confirmand's name is called, I will sweep the ribbon banner over his or her head. Then, for the closing hymn, "Here I am," I will bring the banner over the confirmands heads during the refrain, "Here I am," and then I will lead them out.

I am very excited about how this service has developed. The ribbon banner and I dancing in alone to the song "Spirit" is powerful symbolism of the spirit entering the space. It is a quieter song: the spirit is entering gently. Then the spirit touching/blessing each of the confirmands as they are confirmed. Finally, the spirit leading the confirmands out as they sing "Here I am, Lord. . . I will go, Lord, if You lead me." Perfect.

I was rehearsing in the gym today and I decided that for the beginning verse of "Here I am," I'm going to hold the end of the banner pole at my feet, like a staff, and move the top of the pole so the ribbons blow a little. Then, when the refrain comes up, "Here I am," I will sweep the ribbons up high over the heads of the confirmands. A powerful contrast making for a greater recognition of the commitment that the confirmands have just made. I pray it will be very moving.

The video from 30 Good Minutes shows the ribbon banner I will be using.
Watch my spiritual journey in dance at
(scroll down to Michele White)

Saturday, May 06, 2006

October Wisconsin Retreat: Moving through the rosary

I am delighted to be offering a weekend retreat at Sinsinawa again this October, this time over the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

Moving through the rosary
Sinsinawa Mound Center in Southwest Wisconsin
Friday, Oct. 6, 2006 7:30 p.m. through Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006 1:00 p.m.
Private Room Fee: $179  Commuter Fee: $124 (Scholarships available.)
Phone (608) 748-4411 E-mail

Come experience the relevance of traditional meditative prayer to your contemporary life journey. After grounding ourselves in scriptural reflection and faith-sharing, we will develop our own moving meditations to the natural rhythms of the spoken rosary. You do not need to know the rosary nor do you need dance experience. You do need the desire and willingness to move and pray. Rosaries will be provided. Please wear comfortable clothes. If weather permits, some sessions may take place out doors.

Michele Marie Beaulieux (née White) is past president of the Lakeshore Chapter of the Sacred Dance Guild and the co-founder and moderator of an egroup about Catholic dance. She has danced at the Mound as part of the Dominican Institute of the Arts retreat and at the funeral Mass for her mother's cousin, Sr. Felicitas Farrell O.P., who continues to be an enthusiastic advocate of her dance.