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The choreography of communion

 

Dance has the wonderful capacity to breathe new life into the interpretation of scripture. Ruth Hughes introduces a production that depicts God’s building of a community of love with Jesus at the centre



Springs Bread of Life1


“It is difficult to put Bread of Life into words. Profound. Beautiful. Moving. Incredible theology of grace and the ever watchful love of Jesus. Transformative and powerful. How attractive is Jesus.” The Revd Paul Hinton


I was brought up attending Redhill Baptist Church, under the passionate preaching of the Revd Richard Soar. I was always captured by the way Richard transformed dense scripture into emotional, engaging stories, so it was a natural step then, once I had joined Springs Dance Company as a professional dancer, to want to explore and share my faith through the powerful means of story, theatre and dance.

Springs is a dance and theatre company that helps churches reach out to and engage with their local communities through inspiring performance events. Dance has the wonderful capacity to breathe life into the interpretation of scripture, uncovering hidden depths and providing a way to cut through dense theology with simple physical actions.

So it was very exciting when in 2009, Springs was approached by Aelred Arnesen, a monk whose first conversation with me included the intriguing idea that the choreography of communion is misleading. The conversation we had started a journey between us and choreographer Suzannah McCreight that led to the creation of an incredibly moving dance theatre production that depicts God’s building of a community of love with Jesus at the centre.

The heart of the production is to show physically and visually Christ’s presence with us. Sometimes the way that we share communion unintentionally gives the non-verbal message that God is forwards and upwards from us – perhaps distant. How many of us during church services stage the service in front and slightly raised away from us? The way that our bodies are positioned and poised in that instance suggests God’s distance.

The reality is in fact the opposite. Bread of Life gives a stirring depiction of God right with us as we “do church” and share communion, standing alongside us, holding our hands, whispering in our ears, touching our hearts and meeting with us, drawing us into a closer relationship with him and each other.

Springs Bread of Life2The story of Bread of Life is a simple one – a change from straight lines into circles and of distance to closeness. A series of encounters that the characters have with the presence of Jesus leads them individually and then collectively to the communion table.

Bread of Life is performed with the audience seated all around the dancers. A simple yet beautiful set and varied music all add to the production. It's a wonderful way to engage communities during the lead up to Easter. Don’t just take our word for it! Church leaders have told us that those that watch are incredibly moved:


“… an amazing opportunity for us to reach out to people in our community.” Jonathan Richardson, New Life Church Banham

“A joyous, inspiring and deeply moving performance which wasn't just excellent dance and choreography, but led many people deeper in their encounter with God.” The Revd Neill Archer, Malmesbury Abbey.



Bread of Life will be touring this coming March and April. Don’t miss out! There is still time to book this outstanding production for your local church.



Springs also looks forwards eagerly each year to Christmas when we tour across the UK with our most popular show, Journey of the Magi. Now in its 23rd year, this hilarious, family friendly show will be touring during Advent.

Inspired by T S Eliot’s poem, Journey of the Magi, is a festive, light-hearted, joyful event with a moving and profound message. The show offers a bridge between contemporary life and Jesus’s birth, comparing our own personal journey to Christmas day with the journey that the wise men took. All the paths that the characters take towards despair, loneliness, isolation and commercialism all ultimately end with an encounter on Christmas Day with Jesus. Images from the poetry and familiar Christmas scenes explode in a mix of laugh-out-loud funny, moving and entertaining theatre and dance. 

"A vibrant piece of entertainment and an opportunity to step back, to reflect, and to refocus": a review of Journey of the Magi on the Moortown Baptist Church website.   

 

Images | Photographer: Phillip Bashford | Dancers: Steve Johnstone, Simon Palmer, Naomi Cook, Charlotte Brown, Claire Talbot




To find out more about either of these productions, visit www.springsdancecompany.org.uk 

Ruth Hughes is the Artistic Director of Springs Dance Company



 



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Baptist Times, 26/02/2019
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