The Cedar Dance in Worship Group
For many years, Janet Randell has been exploring dance as a form of praise, worship and teaching with The Cedar Dance in Worship Group. The aim of the group, directed by Randell, is to promote the worship of God in church services and other Christian activities, through the creative medium of dance incorporating word, music, song and liturgy. Randell has pioneered this innovative and inspiring form of outreach within communities throughout the UK since the early 1970’s.
Janet Randell has created over 150 dances for The Cedar Dance in Worship Group. These dances reflect her strong personal faith, and convey a depth of expression rare in modern dance.
Performance and filming of the dances choreographed by Janet Randell from In Him We Move: Volume 2 Manual for Creative Dances for Worship. The Cedar Dance in Worship Group will perform in conjunction with The Cedar Dance Theatre Company and Cedar Dance Animations.
Randell has completed an extended animated version (using DanceForms) of Harvest Praise. This dance was created originally for The Cedar Dance in Worship Group and is featured in Volume 1 of In Him We Move – Creative Dancing in Worship (ISBN 1-900507-83-8). A live version to be included in Volume 2 was filmed in 2009.
Joint workshops with Iris Tomlinson, Artistic Co-ordinator of the Young Dancers Programme at The Place, will be available in the near future.
Background and History
Following her training as a dancer and her graduation in Theology, French and English (University of Leeds), Janet Randell was invited to undertake post-graduate research into Liturgical, Christian Dance and Dance in Worship by the late Canon Jasper of Westminster Abbey. She also performed and choreographed dances for worship from 1970. Her professional dance company, The Cedar Dance Theatre Company, which performed in middle scale theatres throughout the UK, was also the first dance company to pioneer the performance of professional dance in churches and cathedrals.
Randell formed The Cedar Dance in Worship Group, featured in In Him We Move, in the 1970’s, following pioneering choreographic work in the crypt of St Martin-in-the-Fields Church, Trafalgar Square, Central London and performances in churches, cathedrals and Christian Arts Festivals such as Greenbelt. One of her aims was to encourage community church dancing as a social, spiritual and therapeutic outlet. Throughout this time she also taught classes, ran workshops and choreographed innovative dances.
The Cedar Dance in Worship Group consisted of dancers of all abilities who experimented and worked with Randell for many years. The Group under Randell’s direction gave major public performances and led or took part in church services in this Central London church and in other churches in the UK and Europe.
Classes and courses were also developed for beginner and advanced/professional levels. These proved very popular with Christians of all denominations from London, the UK and abroad. They offered a unique opportunity to Christians, whatever their standard of dance, to develop a creative expression of their faith and to bring worship and liturgy alive.
Janet Randell now runs special courses, including dance for worship and dance therapy for adults, for children, teenagers and groups with Special Needs.
Randell has experience of work with the elderly, the severely disabled and wheelchair users. Her timeless work in the field of dance and worship is now recorded in her most recent book In Him We Move in which she explores the historical, theological and biblical inspiration behind dance and worship.
Dance and Prayer are the Perfect Partners says Choreographer
Express the Spiritual in the Physical
Review from: The Universe (December 2001) by Greg Watts
Subject: Dance In Worship and In Him We Move – Creative Dancing in Worship by Janet Randell
‘ “Dance can become a door into the deepest spiritual realities,” says internationally acclaimed choreographer Janet Randell.
“Dance can express the stages of understanding that lie behind the words. Everything about dance for me can portray the uniqueness, the jewel-like quality of the Christian faith.”
Most of us, I suspect, pay little attention to dance, particularly when it comes to liturgy and prayer. We probably think of dance as something that happens at the Royal Ballet or at the local nightclub. But Janet, an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and the founder of The Cedar Dance Theatre Company, believes passionately that dance can enrich our spiritual lives.
“Dance in this country is quite a minority art. In many ways, although films like Billy Elliot encourage people that movement is a natural thing to do,” she continues, “dance is something anyone can do. Even if you can only move an eyeball or a little finger, it’s what happens inside that’s important.”
She says that we need to remind ourselves of the long history of dance as an integral part of religion. “I think that in the West we have got a little carried away with Greek philosophy and neo-platonic ideas, and we’ve veered away from the Jewish concept of men and women being seen as body, mind and spirit.”
The Bible contains many references to dance and in Hebrew, there are many root forms of the word dance, she adds.
David danced when he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, the Song of Songs refers to the lover, “bounding over the hills” and Jesus told his disciples to leap for joy because of their trials.
“If you go to a Jewish wedding or a funeral in Spain, the people move and express the spiritual through the physical. Many of the movements in the Catholic liturgy are based on the Jewish movements.”
Dance and prayer fit easily together, she claims. “If we just sit on our backsides in church and talk about these things rather than act them out, then our faith can be very cerebral. Benches were only really introduced in the Middle Ages. Before then, the insides of churches were (largely) empty space.
“Western Christians often look with nervous apprehension at Eastern and African countries where the body plays a far more prominent role in worship: prostrating Muslims, whirling dervishes, the devadasi (Indian temple dancers) are all remote from certain Western professed concepts of how God should be worshipped in prayer. The Puritan tradition, moreover, in which the body and movement are perceived to be potentially dangerous and sinful, is still very much kept alive today.”
She has brought together her ideas in the book, In Him We Move: Creative Dancing in Worship. “The root of the word liturgy means public service. In Roman times the liturgy might have been to build a boat. St Paul’s liturgy was to minister the Word of God.
“We have to understand what dance is about. It’s uplifting and therapeutic. At Christmas, we all sing, O Come Emmanuel. But the word ‘carol’ actually means to sing and dance.” ’
Opening quotation from In Him We Move – Creative Dancing in Worship by Janet Randell, from a lecture performance at the C S Lewis Conference, Oxford Playhouse.