LeAnne Martin
Christians in the Arts

Monday, September 24, 2007

Dancing in the Park

Saturday was a beautiful blue-sky, puffy-white-cloud, cool-breeze kind of day. My husband and I went to the park—Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. Not only did we get to spend part of the afternoon in a pretty park, we had the special opportunity to go to a dance concert sponsored by Project Dance (www.projectdance.com). “Art should reflect the beauty of our Maker,” says founder Cheryl Cutlip, “and Project Dance is committed to the art form of dance and its significance in society as a vital part of the human experience.”

The mission of Project Dance is to bring hope and healing to culture through the universal language of dance. The Atlanta event took place over the weekend, with classes for and performances by participants, who came from all over the country to dance, to learn, and to be inspired. This year, Project Dance events have also taken place in New York and Sydney, Australia.

Saturday’s dance concert in the park was open to the public, and a crowd had gathered in the amphitheater facing the stage. After we spoke with Katherine Gant, the Atlanta Event Coordinator (I featured her on my July 30th and August 2nd posts) and Cheryl Cutlip, we sat down to watch. Every group’s performance was different from the last—from a traditional ballet piece using an instrumental rendition of "Amazing Grace" to an edgy contemporary retelling of the death and resurrection of Christ.

At one point, five young women wearing college t-shirts took the stage. We were too far back to read the name of the college. Early in the song, the CD skipped a few times so the audio technicians started it over. When the CD skipped again, the young students proceeded to dance without music. Occasionally we could hear one of them singing or humming the notes to keep time as they calmly went through their movements. A moment later, Cheryl Cutlip, founder of Project Dance, took the microphone and explained that this group of dancers was from Virginia Tech—their piece was a tribute to those who were killed on campus last year. Cheryl said that perhaps the dance being done in silence would allow us to reflect more on what the piece meant. As the girls danced, we all shared a moment of silence for the victims whose lives were lost in a moment. It was very moving, and the girls received applause and cheers when they finished.

As I watched each group perform, I felt encouraged and inspired. I felt grateful that dance overtly glorifying the Lord Jesus could be seen and enjoyed in a public park. Kudos to Cheryl for her vision for Project Dance and to her, Katherine Gant, and the rest of the team who brought it to Atlanta.

On Thursday, I’ll be featuring Steve Broyles, actor, teacher, screenwriter, and CITA region director (www.cita.org).

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