Sunday, January 6, 2008

YouTube - She without arm, he without leg - ballet - Hand in Hand

YouTube - She without arm, he without leg - ballet - Hand in Hand

This is one of the most amazing dances I've seen in a very long time... A breathtaking look at hope and teamwork, the way God meant it to be not only between husband and wife, but between the broken and wounded among Christ's followers as well.

This is what dance is for... to bring tears to your eyes, to tug at your heart and make you think, and most of all, to lift your eyes higher to glimpse the very glory of God.

Monday, September 3, 2007

"You are going to try to tell people about this, but they aren't going to understand... you can't expect them to because they weren't there, and that's ok." Mark Sommer, creator of We Walked Amongst Angels.
He's right, you know... It's been over a month and I'm still trying to process what happened to me on 9-11-07, and if it weren't for the other dancers who were there, I'd be doing it alone. What am I talking about? Well, it's a long story...

The short version is that my dance teacher, Alicia Sommer, is a flight attendant and she had friends among the crew of United Airlines Flight 93, the one plane on 9-11-01 that didn't hit it's target. So in honor of the heroes of that flight, she choreographed "A Prayer For Our Time" for her advanced ballet class to perform at this year's Spring recital. She invited Father Alphonse Mascherino, founder of the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel to the perfomance and afterward he invited us to preform at the chapel for the 9-11 memorial services that they hold there every year.
So, off we went, little knowing the experience was going to change our lives.

The night before we left, all nine dancers gathered at the Sommer house to watch the film Flight 93. A well done reconstruction of what is thought to have happened, the movie is harsh, realistic, and deeply moving... and none of us were prepared for that. The very thought that we were sitting in the same room with a woman who had known and been friends with several of those people was overwhelming. More than "just a movie", the film trancended entertainment and became something very personal, very close to home.

Three days later, we sat in hard folding chairs under the large tent covering the place we were to perform, listening to the rain trying to drown out the voices of a children's choir. We were all uncharacteristicly quiet, determined not to cry, to be professional... Then the children began to call out the names of the victims and heroes one by one, each child telling a little about the person whose name they spoke. That's when the tears came, when the incredible reality of the tragedy, and the glory, hit us. These people weren't superheroes, they weren't great or famous or well known. They were the young girl coming home from a friend's wedding, the older couple going to a family reunion, the business man going to a meeting, the flight attendant about to quit her career so that she could stay home with her family. Normal people, people we could have known, people who saved our world.

How can I describe what it was like to dance in their honor after that? We talk a lot about heroes now, they are all over our TV and books and magazines... extraordinary people who do great things, and they always survive for the next show or book. But these people didn't, they gave everything to save what they loved, and they had more to give up than Superman ever dreamed of. Was it worth it? Did we deserve the paradoxical grace that took their lives to spare us horror? No, of course not, but like anyone saved by grace, we now have a mission of our own, a mission to make the country they loved worth the sacrifice it took to save it... and the only way to do that is to turn our eyes to the One who granted us mercy for the moment by giving us those heroes.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

First Look at "Prince Caspian"

Disney has just posted the first video clips of Prince Caspian, due out next spring, on their production blog. It's looking very cool!

Thanks to for posting this news on their site.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Pacifier

Yes, yes, I know, The Pacifier came out two years ago. But a recent viewing with my family and subsequent discussion has brought it back to my attention.
It isn't a really great movie, to be sure... The entire plot is decidedly far-fetched, there is some profanity, and the acting isn't exactly award winning. However, besides being a hilarious comedy, the ideas presented are unusually good. For instance:

Unlike so many Hollywood movies of this sort, Pacifier features *gasp* a strong, smart male lead. Yes, Lt. Shane Wolf has issues when he first arrives; having never dealt with children before, he tries to treat the Plummer children as if they were his subordinates in the military. But he quickly adapts, treating them more gently without backing down from his principles, and earns their respect and affection.

This is a movie where the love and support of family during hard times is held in high regard. The mother of the family cares for her children and still loves her deceased husband, and while the kids isolate themselves at first because of grief over their father's death, they learn how to work together and comfort each other. Last, but not least, Shane comes to value family, even to the point of giving up his successful military career to stay near those he loves.

Then there is Claire Fletcher, the school principle that Shane ends up falling for. Refreshingly neither sickly sweet nor disgustingly tough, she uses her military background more as a basis for administrating the school effectively than for helping to conquer the bad guys (although she does a little of that as well). She treats the children in her care kindly while insisting on respect, and deals with the egotistical vice-principle with lady-like intelligence.

Be careful, Hollywood, you are treading on dangerous ground, spreading ideas like that. Especially to kids... they might actually grow up thinking that it's cool for men to be defenders and providers, that traditional families are to be sought after, and that women can be both intelligent and feminine.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Redemption and the Beast

Over the past few weeks, I have had the privilege to be slightly involved in our community theater's production of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I say slightly, because officially my role is "choreographer's assistant" which means that they really don't need me, but I wormed my way in anyway in order to watch and learn from the real choreographer. It's a nice place to be, because unlike all the cast (who are working their tails off), I get time to sit back and watch... and think.
You see, I've always liked this story, whether on screen or in the more traditional written form, and being immersed in it has got me wondering: Why? Why does this particular fairy tale touch me so much? What does it have that say, Cinderella, or the Ugly Duckling don't?
What about this:

First of all, this is a story about Redemption. Think about it... the main plot is essentially our story, the story of a fallen creature finally redeemed through the love of someone more perfect than himself. We are all the Beast.

It also has some beautiful portrayals of Sacrificial Love. No matter what version you are watching or reading, Beauty always sacrifices her freedom for her father, and in the end the Beast sacrifices his own happiness and nearly his life for Beauty.

Then in a beautiful portrayal of our own Resurrection, the Beast is suddenly released from his fallen form and steps into "Happily Ever After". And isn't that what we all long for, in the end?

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday America!

God shed His Grace on Thee...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

God's Art

"...Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power..." (Romans 1:20 NKJV)

What can you learn about an Artist, just by experiencing his art? Can you come to know and understand the Artist through the medium of his work?
According to the Apostle Paul it is possible, and in fact demanded of us that we look at nature, God's creation, as an expression of Himself.

That is not always a comfortable subject to dwell on.

Here in central Texas, we have been inundated with rain for the past two days, causing serious flooding, destruction, and a place on international news. So yesterday, my family went down to a nearby river to take some pictures of the flooding.

Had my sister taken this picture any other day, it would have looked much different. You would have seen a few trickles of water meandering around huge granite boulders and sand banks dotted with mesquite trees and tall grass. There is even a little road running across the river-bed, with only a few culverts underneath to let the water through. It's the perfect spot for a picnic and an exploring expedition.

In eight hours, though, the water had risen nearly four feet, jumping the road and washing away the sand banks not held down by tree roots. It doesn't trickle now, it roars and tosses and rushes, destroying nearly everything in its path. You would have to be suicidal to step into it. Folks downstream are gathering up their belongings and checking their insurance policies.... some of them have already been flooded.

And yet, it is beautiful.... The setting sun catches on the roiling water and gilds it; the contrast of green against the silken silver is breath-taking. It is a photographer's dream, with all its power and varying colors and settings....

This is God's artwork, what does it say about the artist?