Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Dancers: “Lonely Dancer”

The Dancers: “Lonely Dancer”

July 28, 2010 at 6:07 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-oN0Yw7AaQ for video
http://www.reverbnation.com/play_now/13632997 for "classic live" audio

In a sense, Living Waters was ‘born’ with the arrival of the dancers. In the first months, Dave, Jim, Kathy, Joline, Danny, Chuck and I started singing and playing for things because we were all musically inclined and there were signs of talent there. At first, we were meeting out in “the Annex”. I remember singing Lighthouse songs and “I Love You” by Larry Norman (the song we didn’t know how to end!!) What we were doing at first was pretty rudimentary. When the dancers arrived, it began to dawn on us that we could have a whole production.

The dancers began as a separate group associated with the prayer group. They gathered several girls who went to those prayer meetings. It was called “Rejoice” (I think? confirmed!). It was started by Ann-Marie Donovan [now Babish], an elementary school teacher who fully displayed that patient, kind persona to all of us as the years went on; in a sense she was like a mother in our birth as a group. She had gone to a Benedictine monastery in Pecos, New Mexico and experienced “liturgical dance” there. This is a style of dance that emphasizes prayerful motions to help tell a story or underline an emotion being heard in a song. Dancers like these often wryly expand the words of Augustine, ‘He who sings prays twice’, to say that she who dances prays three times!

I don’t remember how or when it happened, but, just like the Brady Bunch someone said, ‘why don’t we put the music and the dance together’. Among the first dancers were Beth Medeiros, Beth Timledge, and Michelle Cormier, and at some point in those early days they had Peggy York, Cindy Markowski and male dancer Bob Alence. (I think we all remember him best in the late ‘70’s for “Dry Bones” which approached drama or pantomime.) I used to taunt them by always pronouncing “dancers” with an exaggerated English accent: the ‘dunces’.

Eventually, Ann-Marie had to leave us but it was around this time that Chuck Rossignol and Omer Bourque decided to have “try-outs”, and, boy, was it a serious and elaborate procedure! They had check-sheets and forms and a schedule and it felt like “American Idol” does now. Two best friends from Westwood who were going to the prayer meetings came together, trembling with fear and hope, Kathy Sullivan and Denise Carr. Denise wanted to sing and it was pretty obvious she could to Chuck and Omer, and Kathy wanted to dance. Kathy had a similarly impressive ‘body/kinesthetic’ talent; she was accepted and a new era began.

Kathy filled the leadership vacuum and became a creative catalyst for the next several years as Carole Chatalian and Anne-Marie Bourque and later Julia Tice added their talents. Especially gratifying to me was the fact that there were many original dances that perfectly complemented the original songs. Like anything, the early days were bound to be somewhat derivative, imitating things we liked. But, thanks to Kathy and the girls, Living Waters became who we are as performers and believers. They contributed meditative interpretations like “Make Me Free” and group works like “Tonight” or “He That is in Us”. Of course, very early on Kathy became Mrs. David Bourque and their sons have become musicians and actors and Jackie an accomplished dancer.

The song “Lonely Dancer” was probably a high point for both music and dance. Mike McBride seizing on our group dance identity perfectly tapped into that feeling of life as a dance (something I expressed later in “Endless Dance of Love”). This song epitomizes the story-telling aspect the dances began to embody. In the mid-80’s we had a whole “Prodigal Daughter” story-telling piece using many songs with drama and dance. On this song, John Drahos joined in with Kathy to play the Lord in something that became a highlight that people made an effort to come to a Living Waters show to see.  (Musically, Mark played bass, Dave moved to synth and Greg started on acoustic and moved to electric.  The audio I have is of an early version where you can hear the song being born.)

Years later, our drama person Mary Gillis was going to school for media production. She had a project to do and could think of no better subject than Mike’s song. So she enlisted a bunch of us in a complicated schedule. Some went to a stage to film the dance and extra pieces (very nicely done). Others went to Jim’s cellar to lay down some tracks. The result is what you see here. It has lain dormant on VHS for all this time, until now when I decided to preserve this beautiful thing on DVD.

Life is a beautiful dance and the original dancer is the Lord himself who wants to dance us through our loneliness and pain.

By Mike McBride
Copyright 2011, RN SR 679-889

The curtain rises and the lights come on
The music starts, I realize I’m on
But I’ve never heard this song
All my movements come out wrong

I look beside me; no one stands there
Louder music comes from anywhere
I feel upon me eyes that stare
Crowds of people everywhere

(They stand and stare) They stand and stare
(From everywhere) They stand and stare
From everywhere
I know I see them all
But I’m afraid I’m gonna fall

Suddenly I feel your presence
Taste of love and your sweet essence
You have come to dance me through
As you lead I follow you

(I follow you) I follow you
(I follow you) You will lead me
Right on through
(Hold my hand) You hold my hand
(Take a stand) We take a stand
(All demands) Suddenly we’ve conquered
All demands

There is an answer for me a lonely dancer
You are the answer for this lonely dancer

The stage lights dim, they bring me roses
The people leave, the theatre closes
But we keep dancing on and on
We don’t want to end this song

(It will live on) It will live on
(Like a song) Like a song
We’re living on and on

There is an answer for me a lonely dancer
You are the answer for this lonely dancer


I have found what I believe in
I won’t be leaving
I’ll keep on dancing
Living from what you bring

There is a way
You are the way
I have found you