Dear Pope Francis,
When you were a child, did you like dancing?
- Prajla (Age 6, Albania)
Very much, dear Prajla!
Really a lot! I enjoyed being with other children, playing Ring around the Rosie, but also dancing our traditional dances from Argentina. I really had so much fun! Then, as a young man, I liked to dance the tango. I really like the tango. You know, dancing expresses joy and happiness. When you are sad, you can’t dance. Usually, young people have one great resource, being happy. And for this reason, when you are young, you dance and express the joy in your heart.
Even the great King David danced. He made Jerusalem the Holy City and brought the Ark of the Covenant there in a solemn procession. And then King David began to dance in front of the Ark. He didn’t worry about formality. He forgot to behave as a king, and he began to dance like a little child! But when his wife, Michal, saw him jumping and dancing, she criticized David and scorned him in her heart. She was sick with too much seriousness, what I call the “Michal Syndrome.” People who can’t express joy are always serious. Dance now, children, so you won’t be too serious when you grow up! - Pope Francis
We as humans, experience God in many ways, but because we experience life through our five senses, God came to us in human form so that we can see, hear, smell, taste and feel his presence. It is for that reason we eat the bread, drink the wine, hear the word, sing the psalms, smell the incense, and move in processions. These are all sensual ways of experiencing our Lord. Liturgical Dance is part of the ritual movement encouraged by the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy, National Conference, as written in their document on Environment and Art in Catholic Worship. “Processions and interpretations through bodily movement (dance) can become meaningful parts of the liturgical celebration if done by truly competent persons in the manner that befits the total liturgical action.”
We are very fortunate to have Carla De Sola, who has taught for many years Liturgical Dance at the Graduate Theological Union and nationally, as our parishioner and Director of the Newman Dancers and Director of the Omega West Dance Company. Working with us, she has taught us the historical meaning of some of the moves we do, their origin in Early Jewish and Christian traditions. From these historical, spiritual and aesthetical moves she choreographs stories from the Gospels for us to experience, much in the same way as we may sing music that express the readings in ways that may move us.
If you would like to participate in liturgical dance and learn from the gifts of Carla, please leave a note at the front desk for her with your contact information. Students to long-time parishioners with dance experience are all invited. Let us remember what Pope Francis has instructed us to do, “ Dance now, children, so you won’t be too serious when you grow up!”
- Randy Dixon, Newman Dancer