The Word in the Wings
Why arts ministry: a conversation with Elizabeth Si
By: KAYA WEAVER
Elizabeth Si is an Apprentice with Glorify Dance Theatre and has been dancing with the company since 2019. You may have seen her in the role of “Bible Smuggler” in GPA’s recent production of Casefile: Euangelion. Elizabeth brings laughter as well as serious faith into the rehearsal space. Join me for a conversation where Elizabeth shares about the role dance plays in her relationships and her personal faith.
Kaya: How did you first get into dance? When did you decide to stick with it and pursue it seriously?
Elizabeth: I grew up seeing my two older sisters dancing, and I decided to join when I was 5 years old.
I originally stuck with ballet because I enjoyed participating in the performances at my local studio, but around the age of 15, I started to pursue dance seriously. A specific experience that prompted that focus was when I watched the NYC Ballet’s documentary. It was then that I started to enjoy not only participating in performances but also attending classes.
Also, the friendships that I have built within my local studio are one of the main reasons that I continue to pursue dance.
Kaya: How have you experienced God through dancing or watching dance?
Elizabeth: I especially felt God’s presence in “Alive in Us” and “Walk This Road,” while both dancing and watching others.
Kaya: What felt powerful or effective about those experiences?
Elizabeth: The lyrics of the songs and the movement in the dances made those experiences powerful.
For Alive In Us, even though we weren’t portraying a story, we were expressing emotions that coincided with the Fruit of the Spirit. “Love” and the finale were the two dances with everyone in them, which was powerful because all of us were dancing together for God.
In Walk This Road, we were telling the story of Holy Week, which is an important story to tell. Each dance had to tell part of the story, and performing the dance that represented Friday night (“Underground”) was very powerful because we were portraying the emotions of anger, sadness, confusion, and hopelessness which may have been some of the emotions that Jesus’ followers experienced. I had never had an opportunity to express these emotions before through dance, so I felt entirely different dancing this piece.
Kaya: What other forms of ministry or missions have you ever been involved with?
Elizabeth: I helped at Lighthouse Family Retreat, a ministry that helps families who are walking through childhood cancer. I have also helped out in our church nursery during Sunday services and during Vacation Bible School.
Kaya: What does dance accomplish that distinguishes it from other forms of ministry? What do you believe makes dance a powerful medium for expressing your faith?
Elizabeth: What distinguishes dance from other forms of ministry is that it is specifically the movement of your dancing that is helping to portray the story.
Some people may not want to come to hear a person talk about God, but they might be open to watching a ballet. Sometimes when you try to relate to someone through talking, that doesn’t always work, but when dancing, audience members can interpret the dancer’s emotions to relate to themselves, even if the dancer meant to express something slightly different. As a dancer, it’s always interesting to hear an audience member’s interpretation of your dance, even if it is slightly different from what you intended.
Kaya: What practices have helped shape you as a Christian artist?
Elizabeth: What has helped me the most as a Christian artist is reading the Bible, reading a daily devotional, and being surrounded by God’s creation.
Kaya: How would you describe your particular vocation as a Christian artist or an artist within Glorify Performing Arts? What brought you to this point in your dance training/career?
Elizabeth: I dance to touch others in the audience and to become stronger in my faith. I have been dancing for 13 years, and I have been in the company the last 4 years. I wanted an opportunity to grow closer to God through my dancing, and joining GPA was a perfect opportunity to do so.
Kaya: What do you uniquely bring to this company to help point audiences to Jesus through our work?
Elizabeth: Sometimes people believe that younger people can’t be serious or understand serious topics. However, since I was 13 when I joined the company, I got to show that a younger dancer can portray serious topics. Being the youngest dancer in the company at the time, I developed a more mature dance style at a young age, which I have carried through my years at GPA.
You can learn more about Elizabeth’s dance experience by reading her bio.
Stay tuned for more company artists’ perspectives on why the arts are an effective medium for ministering and growing in Christian faith as the series continues next week!
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