Originally created 05/15/04

Sacred movement



One by one, the Spirit and Truth liturgical dancers at Calvary Deliverance Evangelistic Church glide down the church aisles, slowly making their way to the front.

With arms gently rising, the dancers leap, twirl and humbly bow before their savior. One dancer, Andrea Clarke, holds a king's crown embellished with fine linens and jewels on a miniature purple pillow. She slowly walks up the steep steps to the pulpit.

As the song Your Majesty resonates through the air, the dancers usher in a spirit of praise and worship. Streams of tears roll down faces in the congregation and among the dancers, including the face of liturgical dancer Sonya Roland, 30.

"I always thought that one of the things about me is that I'm a worshipper," said the group-dance choreographer. "The dance has already enhanced the worshipper in me."

Single-dance choreographer and liturgical dancer Rashenah Walker, 21, said all the members of the team are enthusiastic dancers.

"It's more about feeling the music and being in tune with it," said the 10-year veteran dancer, who took dance classes when she attended John S. Davidson Fine Arts School.

Minimarie Doe, 20, an art director who teaches liturgical dance to 8- and 9-year-olds at E.W. Hagler Boys and Girls Club, agrees.

"Liturgical dance is dancing from the spirit," said the Paine College student. "You don't have to have had previous experience to do it."

With practices filled with prayer meetings and conditioning two Satur-days a month - sometimes three for special programs - the dancers realize their worship is a lifestyle.

"We try to maintain our prayer life, not just when we come together and meet, but also outside the church," Mrs. Roland said. "The presentation comes from presenting ourselves as a living sacrifice. Everything we do is in decency and in order."

That is something their bishop, Melvin J. Colbert, and his wife, Pastor Brenda W. Colbert, insist on.

"We have to make sure that the movements, dress apparel and music is in decency and in order," Pastor Colbert said. "We do not want to come off to be lascivious. We don't want to put a stumbling block in our brother's pathway."

Shannon Colbert, 19, a liturgical dancer and the minister of music, said she chooses music that will help create concrete images.

"You want to put something before their mind that they can imagine," she said. "When you hear the song Your Majesty you can see the angels falling prostrate before the king. We hear it verbally and all we do is interpret it so you can see it visually."

Jamie Garvey, an organist and the director of music at St. John United Methodist Church, has witnessed the artistic performance many times at her church. She says its purpose works.

"When you embody the word, literally, it evokes a visceral response that nothing else does," she said.

Reach Quandra F. Collins at (706) 823-3708.