Monday, February 19, 2007

introducing liturgical movement through youth

I keep thinking of ideas to add to the panel discussion on liturgical dance which was on the WBBM TV program, "Different Drummers" on Sunday morning. Since the focus of "Different Drummers" is youth, one point to have brought out is that congregations are generally positively disposed toward seeing young people actively participating in the worship service. Whereas they may be skeptical about adults doing liturgical dance or movement, they will more likely be receptive to children and youth participating or leading or ministering through liturgical movement. Young people represent the future, our hope. They bring us back to our childhoods, before all our adult inhibitions started creeping in.
Well, as the host, Polly Toner, said, the time just flew by. there was no time to be able to say everything there was to say.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Good liturgical dance requires planning!

Well, I was up at 5am this morning to watch the liturgical dance program on "Different Drummers" on WBBM TV Channel 2 here in Chicago. Considering that the discussion was taped live with no editing, I'm very happy with how it all turned out.

One point that I would have liked to have brought forward a little stronger is the importance of liturgical planning, so that the dance doesn't stick out as stuck in the liturgy as Polly, the host, complained happens sometimes at her church. I can't emphasize that point enough. It takes a lot of thought to integrate dance or movement into worship in a way that deepens the experience and emphasizes the message. I have often said that it takes three skills to do liturgical dance well: liturgy planning, choreographing, and moving/dancing. And, of the three, I would say that liturgy planning is the most important. As I was preparing for the panel, I realized I could add two more skills/roles: advocate (or Armor Bearer as Myah McKinnie of the Chicago seed group of the Christian Dance Network says) and costume designer/environmental planner.

I was very glad that the other panelist, Karli, took the question on body image and dance for young women. She gave a great answer. What I didn't have a chance to add was that liturgical dance isn't for everyone. Often, I see young people looking at the ground when they dance. It seems that they are making a pact with the congregation: If I don't look at you, will you not look at me? No, they need to be comfortable with the fact that the whole congregation is going to be staring at them and staring at their bodies. In fact, their bodies are serving as a conduit of the Holy Spirit. Liturgical dance is a ministry of the body. There are other ministries for people who are not comfortable with that kind of exposure.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Word made flesh

I am on a panel on liturgical dance on the youth-oriented show, "Different Drummers," on Chicago's WBBM TV Channel 2 at 5AM tomorrow Sunday morning, February 18. The show was taped in advance today and features dancing by Saint Mark's United Methodist Church and Karli Pidgeon, an ordination candidate in the United Methodist Church. Polly Toner interviews Karli and me. She said that the half hour would fly by, and, wow, did it ever. Karli and I were very complementary in our perspectives and insights. It worked out really well.

I want to give credit to Fr. Robert Pawell, O.F.M. at St. Peter's in the Loop for the insight that I shared on the show that the very essence of Christianity -- the Incarnation, God becoming a person, the word made flesh -- supports the notion of embodied prayer, and fights against the dualism of body versus soul. He gave a great talk on "Embodied Prayer & the Labyrinth" which is reprinted in the December 3, 2006 St. Peter's Bulletin. I highly recommend it.

"Different Drummers" is produced by the Greater Chicago Broadcast Ministries, a communications ministry of the Protestant, Orthodox and Episcopal churches of Greater Chicago. Major sponsors include the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the United Church of Christ.