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.

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