Dancer and teacher Sarah Pope brought together a community to collaboratively create and perform a performance response to their interpretation of Acts 2:42-47.
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42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
Life among the Believers
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
To create “Growing Together,” I held weekly dance/Bible study workshops with Greenwood Baptist Church community members ages 8-80. None were professional dancers.
Resources I used to influence our dance classes included the BrainDance as well as the Dance for Solidarity. I also drew heavily on my experience as a dance teacher and facilitator using creative dance, which is often thought of in relation to young children experiencing dance for the first time. The specific practice of drawing words from text and creating movements to them is widely used in dance education contexts (children in an elementary school classroom choosing words from a poem and creating movements to them) as well professional, collaborative dance creation processes (text generated by the artists, or poems or other writings, being mined for meaning and the inspiration for dance phrase material).
I saw that the creative dance practice had exegetical applications. So, it was important to me not only to “make a dance work inspired by Acts 2:42-47” but to bring transparency to the process of doing so: highlighting the community-building and the collaborative aspects of creating from the text with members of my church family who were interested in dancing although they were not necessarily “dancers.” We used the verses as instructions for creating together as a community of faith. The result was not only “Growing Together” but, also, growing together as a community of faith — becoming more like the early church described in Acts 2:42-47. Inspired by this process, I have decided to continue offering dance-based Bible studies at Greenwood Baptist Church.
Sarah Pope is a Brooklyn-based dance artist, dance & fitness educator, and clown. She has worked with many dance companies in New York, most recently Mark Lamb Dance and Renee Gerardo Dances. Her clown character, SarahBesque, debuted new work at the NY Clown Theatre Festival at The Brick Theater, September 2016. As an educator she has taught in many NYC public schools with Together in Dance, as well as at Spoke the Hub Dancing and the Prospect Park YMCA.
For the 13 years she has been located in NYC, Sarah has actively served as a volunteer and a staff member at Metro Baptist Church, where she performs regularly with Mark Lamb Dance. She is currently a member of Greenwood Baptist Church in Park Slope.