Hope College, Lindsey Hanson

Holland, Michigan

To investigate emerging theological issues in worship with scholars and practitioners by reflecting on a cross-disciplinary collaboration of dance, architectural design, and film within a worship space, and empowering local ministry leaders and churches to discern theologically and imagine liturgically the characteristics of Christian worship in their own context by engaging curated online media.  

Researcher(s): Lindsey Hanson 
Academic Discipline:  Dance

Project Summary 

This proposed project is a continuation of a cross-disciplinary collaboration of dance, architectural design, and film, within a worship space culminating in an interactive site-specific, multimedia dance performance titled Sanctuary. The purpose of Sanctuary is to prove that dance brings new life to a worship space. Sanctuary utilizes dance performed live and captured by film to challenge, reveal, and enhance the congregation’s awareness of the worship space inside their church’s building. 

What questions have you asked about worship in the past year?  

How does my typical perception in a space affect my sense of worship?  

What happens when I am asked to shift my perspective and how does that shift alter what I feel and my feelings regarding my faith?  

How can I present my research (site-specific choreography) in a way that is specific enough to be understood, but open enough to be fully interpreted by the unique lens of the viewer? 

In what ways has or will your project strengthen the worship life of congregations? 

The church (Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City) was impacted so much by the use of their space through this project that they have asked me to present the work again in video form at their 10 year retrospective event. The live performance, as well as the filmed version, has prompted Redeemer to rethink how they operate as a building for the city. They realized that being more open to a wider range of uses for the space will connect them more to the surrounding community and to let those uses be visible to the congregation on Sundays. 

What have been your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)? 

The biggest challenge was not having a producer for the live show. All of the other challenges that were presented during the creative process were welcomed as ways to flex my artistic muscle and engage in the space as a researcher. The administrative duties far outweighed the creative work and so managing the logistics of the event became the biggest roadblock to my creativity. 

What advice would you like to share with other Teacher-Scholars? 

Put into place a team of individuals (that you can pay through your budget) to help you stay on track. There are many parts of the project that actually take you away from the research, so to have people that you can count on and will "work" for you and the project, will help you as the researcher stay researching! 

What products will emerge from your project? 

The dance film is the biggest product that has emerged from the project. Because of the nature of the project I have two films that can be either viewed together or separately. Each section (three total) are complete works but flow nicely together to make one larger work. I have submitted the third section to film festivals internationally and was selected for 9 festivals, along with a few awards. I hope to submit the first two sections as one work to film festivals next year. In looking to the future, I plan to film the second iteration of Sanctuary that was performed by Hope College students in Dimnent Chapel.