Monday, November 23, 2009

Liz Lerman In Conversation

The Very Reverend Samuel T. Lloyd III interviewed Liz Lerman in a conversation Sunday, November 22, 2009 at Washington’s National Cathedral  in the Sunday Forums, a series about issues at the intersection of faith and public life.

Liz Lerman, a MacArthur Fellow, has wide experience in dance as an art form, and how it affects our daily and spiritual lives.  The conversation had to do with reasons for dancing; for understanding oneself and others, and as a way of knowing. 

The discussion brought together the sciences of physics and genetics and their connections to social realities and religious spirituality. The wide-ranging subject concerned movement, dance, choreography and community building, and how good dancing is for the soul.

This enjoyable fifty minute discussion can be seen from this link to the Cathedral website. Here’s a summary of the talk:

Dean Lloyd begins the conversation with professional information about Liz Lerman and the topics of their discussion. He observes that artists say that art is a truth that is an "experiential reality".

Abstraction is hard won

On the subject of abstraction, Liz Lerman says that “abstraction is hard won” - that everything is abstract  including our language. The artist finds more of himself to share in the performance of an art, and that any resistance is information.

Art is too important to be left in the hands of the professionals. We all love to create art in different forms. Lerman says she notices a top-down strategy at universities to have arts programs and believes parents and students are demanding it .

Innovation: seeing the old in a new way

Innovation can be about bringing something old back and seeing it in a new way, Lerman says. We need to manage the loss that comes with innovation and change.

Historically dance has been used to prepare for war, and to heal children. It is also used in some churches as a way to be in unison with others because it is one of the gentle ways to find connection with others and to get back into their own bodies.

In a hierarchical world, you live by putting people down, but if you live with a horizontal view of humanity, you just make distinctions.

On the subject of genetics (of which she learned a lot to prepare a performance), Liz Lerman questions whether we should be designing people with genetics.

Evolution is a spiritual idea; we belong to something magnificent. Lerman says we need to learn how to make creationists tolerant of evolution.


The discussion was followed by a wonderful worship service with majestic organ music and inspirational sermon by The Very Rev. Samuel Lloyd about the day’s celebration, that Christ is King.

My appreciation and gratitude go to Dean Lloyd and producer Deryl Davis for holding a spiritual discussion that was so soothing to the mind and soul.

This summary is merely designed to be helpful, and is not promoted in any way by the National Cathedral. Any inaccuracies and mistakes contained herein are entirely my own.To check facts, the conversation can and should be viewed online.

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