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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

UPennDavid P. France (C'89, Arts House Dance, Penn Media Summit Creator), my fellow co-winner of Penn's first Young Alumni Award of Merit back in 2004, has just started his own dance company (the "David P. France Dance Company") in Basel, Switzerland and New York City.

David also stars in and executive produced the above video called "Canticle."

On a related note, I thought Marlo Dell'Antonio, the director of this film had an interesting explanation for the inspiration for this film...
"The key element is the music video: which signifies specific movement vocabulary of my style, seen in the staged concert piece Psalm 27 (2006). This duet reconstruction was taught and filmed over the course of 48 hours, in collaboration with the David P. France Dance Company (based out of Basel, Switz). More details regarding the video.

I’d like to take a minute, however, to give my personal testimony regarding the work and why I feel its actualization will engulf a good portion of my life.

Christians are sometimes encouraged to choose a psalm to turn to in times of tribulation. Psalm 27 is my psalm. I heard a version of it performed during my first Sunday mass at St John’s Student Parish, in East Lansing, MI. The summer of 2003 was perhaps one of the most emotionally challenging times of my life, regarding relationships and betrayals. I remember hearing this song and crying, as I watched from behind the pews, because I was so passionately moved by the strength of the lyrics. I noticed the faces of the choir members and thought, “My God, they are so happy! Why are they so happy? I want to know what that feels like; I want to understand why...”

I immediately asked to join the choir after that mass. I began to attend 5 masses a week. I noticed that I felt rhythmically and emotionally moved to dance to some of the songs we performed on a regular basis. I took notes in my hymnal for over a year before the idea to sync 7 of my favorite songs into a dance concert piece arose.

I wanted the parishioners to see what I saw in my mind when I heard those melodies. So many Christians, especially Catholics, see the body purely as sacred and void of engaging the physical ability to worship; that worship is solely through prayer and song. My premise is that the body, along with the voice, can (and must!) be united to give glory to our Creator. Also, that the songs can be arranged rhythmically to insight those listening, not only inspiration, but also, to get up and dance. This is a natural response; there is nothing wrong with it. People need to know that.

The main stanza of Psalm 27 is this:
The Lord is my Light and my Salvation; of whom shall I be afraid?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; whom shall I fear?

There is no doubt in my mind that I couldn’t have survived some of the trials I've had to face, if I hadn’t heard these words through song. My job as an Artist is to shape and extend this experience through the talents I have been given. Quite simply, my only hope is that this passion I feel can be shared. Regardless, of religious affiliations.

I was attended catholic schooling for 13 years. I didn’t learn a damn thing about faith until I joined that choir. Now, I might be ex-communicated one day for my views on the combination of sexuality and spirituality, but one thing is certain: I will not shut up. Although the continuation of Psalm 27 is only one of several life-term projects I’ve set for myself, it will always be a central part of my being and character."


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Posted by Matt | 9:10 AM | , , , , , | 0 comments »

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