The prayerful posture of Jin Hanley and her dance students reflected the posture of their hearts.
Inspired by the power of prayer and the COVID-19 pandemic, Hanley revived “The Lord’s Prayer,” a piece she premiered in 2012. She taught it to PBA Dance Ensemble students and called on dance alumni to reprise their roles.
The new version of the collaborative piece debuted at the virtual dance banquet April 30. It opens with dancers reciting the Lord’s Prayer in unison in English, Spanish, Korean and Tagalog and shows them performing the piece in their homes across the United States. It is in keeping with the University’s theme, the Power of Prayer.
Students learned the majority of the dance while instruction was still on campus and finished over Zoom. Over the course of the semester, one student’s grandfather died, another lost a cousin, another’s sister started chemotherapy again and another was having issues with family. “The Lord’s Prayer” piece allowed them to process all of it, said graduating senior Winston Jean-Joseph.
“Ms. Jin’s piece allowed us to deal with whatever we were going through in that week. She would say, ‘I want you to dance and pray that out to the Lord,’” Jean-Joseph said. “It was a moment for us to be real with God.”
It was also a time to come together with alumni. Every alum to whom Hanley reached out agreed to participate, she said.
“I had a very strong vision and voice saying I can do this,” said Hanley, interim chair of the Dance Department. “I’m so proud of them, so thankful. I was in tears when my alumni sent their videos.”
One of those alums was Stephanie Barrera ’15, who now runs a small dance company and works in ministry making music, art and dance. She remembered all of “The Lord’s Prayer” and only had to watch Hanley’s video once to learn a couple of small changes.
Barrera knows the choreography so well because it was one of the first PBA dance numbers in which she was in the front. As a student, she was excited that Hanley chose her to participate because she loves dance and worship, she said.
“It’s the Lord’s Prayer, so it’s timeless. It’s the same prayer that has been prayed for centuries,” Barrera said. “It proclaims something so powerful, which is ‘Your kingdom come.’ We proclaim that as we dance.”
Victoria Holmes, a rising senior, also recognized the piece’s greater potential.
“There’s power in the prayer of our dancing,” Holmes said. “I want to be part of what God can do through this piece.”
Photo: Professor Jin Hanley and her current and former students perform "The Lord's Prayer," a dance she first choreographed in 2012. She revived it in light of the University's theme for the year - the Power of Prayer - and the COVID-19 pandemic.