News Column

Megan Quinn: Music, dance groups offer diverse spirituality

June 16, 2014

By Megan Quinn, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.



June 16--Drawing from spiritual and creative forces, two music and dance groups are coming to the area to perform this week.

The groups, Zikr Dance Ensemble and Watoto Children's Choir, come from vastly different backgrounds and offer widely different entertainment. Yet both groups aim to offer performances with global influences and deep spiritual and religious inspirations.

The Zikr Dance Ensemble, based in Denver, will bring its performance of "Sanctuary" to Boulder at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 20, at The Dairy Center for the Arts, 2590 Walnut St.

The ensemble, made up of professional ballet dancers, uses "transcendent dance rituals" from many different ancient world cultures, including sacred dance movements created by George Gurdjieff, an early 20th century spiritual teacher who included dance movement in his teachings as a way to help his students focus their minds.

Zikr's artistic director, David Taylor, said Zikr means "remembrance of God." The company's performances take that to heart by bringing together spiritual or sacred movements from many backgrounds, including Tibetan and Balinese influences and Sufi and Catholic influences, he said.

After serving as main choreographer of the David Taylor Dance Theatre for 27 years, Taylor went into teaching for a few years. In 2009, he decided he wanted to lead a company that celebrated diverse spiritual and cultural traditions through movement.

"I wanted to get back to what meant most to me ... the more spiritual, metaphysical aspects of dance, and wanted to completely focus on that," he said.

Since starting in 2009, the company has explored topics such as sacred spaces and other ways diverse spiritual traditions "express creativity and wonder through dance," he said.

The company has ballet-trained dancers and often included guest artists from the Colorado Ballet and other professional companies. Some of the dances are performed en pointe, but the style of dance is typically more contemporary, he said.

For audiences who prefer a more music-centered performance, the Watoto Children's Choir will make stops in Boulder, Longmont, Estes Park, Fort Collins and other parts of the state to perform gospel and traditional Ugandan music.

The choir is made up of orphaned Ugandan children whose families have died because of regional violence, AIDS or other illnesses. Their free choir performances help raise money for the Watoto project, which helps give health and educational support.

Watoto was founded at a Pentecostal church in Kampala, Uganda.

Watoto founder Gary Skinner started the ministry in 1994 after a trip to Uganda, where he was inspired by a Bible verse, James 1:27, that asks people to care for widows and orphans.

Despite going through tragedy and illness, the traveling choir groups aim to spread a message of hope and Christian inspiration. The choirs typically perform in churches or spiritual community centers around the world, according to a news release about the choir.

To underscore their upbeat performances, the children wear bright traditional outfits, perform energetic dances and sing songs with lyrics such as "I am not forgotten, God knows my name."

By performing in Colorado churches and other places around the world, the choir shares "a message of transformation by telling the story of Africa's rescued orphans and women. We hope to reach out to audiences with the message of Christ's healing power," Skinner said in the release.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Megan Quinn at 303-410-2649 or quinnm@dailycamera.com

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(c)2014 the Daily Camera (Boulder, Colo.)

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Source: Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)


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