Mary and Gabriel: An Advent Dance

Dec 21, 2016

About Mary and Gabriel: An Advent Dance

The dance performed during Sunday worship services at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill, was originally conceived by St. Mark’s parishioner and Liturgy Planning Team member, Jessie Babcock in the summer of 2016. Her idea was to have an Advent dance with music telling the story of the Angel Gabriel visiting the Virgin Mary, announcing that she would have a son named Jesus, and concluding with Mary’s Magnificat that praises God. Luke 1: 26-55.

Music Director, Jeff Kempskie decided to take the project on and in mid-October, on behalf of St. Mark’s, he commissioned the choreography and performance of two dancers from the Bowen McCauley Dance Company based in Arlington, VA. Jeff composed the music in late October and November. Over several weeks, Dustin Kimball danced and rehearsed it with Claire Jones to prepare for the Sunday offering, Mary and Gabriel: An Advent Dance.

A few words about the music itself: it is in two sections. The first section, which lasts about two and a half minutes, was written so that every 4-8 measures directly corresponds to a different line of the Luke text. Changes in the tone of the music are related to the two characters and various events told in the story, similar to a movie soundtrack. The section concludes when the Angel Gabriel departs from Mary. The second section of music, inspired by the text of Mary‟s Magnificat, is about two minutes in length and has a time signature of 5/4. It is constructed over an ostinato, a repeating 4-bar bass line, with variations in the melody, harmony, rhythm, and texture above.

Jeff wishes to thank Jessie for her creative idea, Michele for her support of this project, artistic director Lucy Bowen McCauley, choreographer Dustin Kimball, and of course Dustin Kimball and Claire Jones, the dancers, who appear courtesy of Bowen McCauley Dance Company (bmdc.org). Special thanks to the St. Mark’s Arts Council, Liturgy Planning Team, and supporters of the Music Fund for the funding that made this project possible.

Learn more about the Arts at St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill.