Sunday, December 16, 2007

Advent Dance Reflections

I danced today at New Hope United Methodist Church. I love dancing there. The people are gracious, the choir is wonderful, and, the big bonus for me as a dancer: they've got a beautiful sprung wood floor. The dance was very simple, which was appropriate, for the song, "There's a Great Joy a Comin,'" which itself is simple, and the congregation and the space, which is small. And, in liturgical dance, as in many things, less is truly more. I am reminded of the homiletics advice, that if you ask several people what a sermon was about and they all give different answers, you've failed. The same is true, I'm thinking, for liturgical dance.
Thinking of describing the dance, I'm reminded of a quote attributed to Isadora Duncan: " If I could tell you what I mean I wouldn’t need to dance.” The dance sounds even simpler on paper than in person: it showed the evolution from a child in the womb to an infant held to the gift of love spread around the world.
Afterward a woman commented that it was clear that I really put my whole self into my dance. I said that I made the dance a prayer of preparation for recognizing the joy of Christmas in my and all our lives. Then, I received the compliment I most cherish: the woman said she cried during my dance.

High school student Katie de Loys did a lovely job in her dance at the Episcopal Church of St. James the Less during the Lessons and Carols service on Friday night. Katie lit the advent wreath in a moving meditation on the coming of the light of Christ into our world. Her dance reflected the mix of joyful hope and trepidation embodied in the Advent season. She has very graceful flowing presence. As I was walking out of the church, I overhead a conversation between two women. One said, "Do they always have that dancer like that?" and the other said, "No, this is the first time." and then the first went on to comment on how lovely it was. It's great to overhear such unsolicited compliments. This was the congregation's introduction to liturgical dance, and it was well received. Thank you, Katie!

I haven't gotten the report yet on how the Advent procession went this Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Wilmette, but the first Sunday Sunday of Advent, Ethan did a superb job carrying the candle to the front of the church during "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." The movement was simple, prayerful, and very well executed. But, my accolades carry limited weight. Ethan received the best compliment that an eighth grader can get: the praise of his peers. I'm told that they all clapped when he returned to the Sunday School classroom afterwards! I have ministered through movement for this church in the past, but this is the first time members of the congregation are doing conscious liturgical movement. And, again, it was well received. Thank you, Ethan, for leading the way. The children, indeed, shall lead us.