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We used a dance canon for a choreography we did for a Christmas eve candelight piece this year. It's a simple concept that can be adapted to any dance skill level.

What is a dance canon?

Well, it is a movement "round", just like "Row, Row, Row your boat" is a song "round". That is...the same series of phrases is sung by everyone, it's just that each person starts at a different time. The dance canon operates the same way, only with movement instead of melody.

Using a dance canon choreography can take very simple, repeated movements and make them look intricate and complex when the dance is viewed as a whole.

This is the choreography we used:

The piece we selected was "Lo, how a rose e'er blooming", an instrumental harp and flute version by Diane Genareo. We had 3 dancers, and a pattern of 3 very slow, fluid movements: a burst, a turn, and an arabesque. The dancers carried a candle goblet in one hand, and a long-stemmed rose in the other. The canon was executed in various ways. In the first verse, we slowed the movement of the canon by inserting 4 walks inbetween the 3 pattern movements, and used the verse to process to our center position. Some dancers were walking as others were doing the pattern.

On the second verse, the patterns were repeated (in canon) throughout the verse (without walks in between), from a stationary position at center front.

Third verse, the circle of dancers moved to the right as they did the patterns in unison. By reversing the arabesque, either the candles or the roses were lifted to the center. The dance ended with the candle goblets at center, and the roses "blooming" out of the center of them as the last strains of the music played.

It created a lovely, elegant, and peaceful offering for a candlelight cradle Mass.
Some thoughts about what the dance was saying:

I had the sense that this dance was communicating a reflection of the Trinity. There were three dancers, moving in exactly the same steps, but at different times. There is a Greek word, perichoresis, which is used to describe the relationship of the GodHead to one another. It can be defined as co-indwelling, co-inhering, and mutual interpenetration. It has the connotation of the Trinity in a "dance" together, ever moving and rejoicing over us.

There is, in Song of Solomon 6:13, a reference to "the dance of Mahanaim ", or the dance of "two companies". The inference is that there is an earthly company of dancers, and at the same time, a heavenly company of dancers. That was the sense I had during the presentation of the above piece---that there was a dance going on "over us" in the heavenlies, and that we were "mirroring" that dance.

The candle goblets and the roses were significant as well, and both symbols of Jesus. The candles represented His light....an intangible. And the roses represented his incarnation....the tangible.