Sat in a Boat
Director/Choreographer: Rebecca Diane Huang
Dancers: Sarah Baker, Sarah Freeman, Rebecca Diane Huang, Elijah Richardson, Marceia L. Scruggs
Spoken Word Artists: LDJ and CM2Live
Singer/Musician: Christa J. Sangster Monroe
Music Scoring/Design: Donavahn Frierson
Animation Artist: Aly Raden
Literary Artist: Emmanuel Lifschultz
Lighting Design: Sarah Freeman
Video Documentation: Jane Jerardi, Juiette Payne
Photo Credits: Kristie Kahns, Juliette Payne and Gaby Payne
Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture
October 28-29, 2022
Hope Church Pilsen
December 10, 2022
Sat in a Boat is a thought-provoking, stimulating, and emotional multimedia modern dance performance investigating faith and reason through an intersection of movement, spoken word, originally composed music, animation, singing, a script and more. In a world filled with despair and tragedy, we often feel stuck in a sea of confusion, thrashing and clawing our way to a light at the end of the tunnel. Yet amid the darkness, we are still driven by passion, evidence, hope and an innate knowledge that we are built for more, that salvation may yet be attainable. That God is still trustworthy and close when all we can see are the storms of life. Our many waters can be calmed.
Sat in a Boat was first inspired by a seemingly mundale event recorded in the Book of Mark from the New Testament, the second division of the Christian biblical canon. The opening of chapter 4 reads: "A very large crowd gathered about him [Jesus], so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. And he was teaching them many things..." (Mark 4:1-2).
The Christian faith believes that the historical Jesus, in whom all deity dwells, has reconciled humanity to the "God who dwells in unapproachable light whom no one has ever seen or can see" (1 Timothy 6:16). In other words, the higher power or God that we once regarded as unknowable, distant and aloof actually stepped down from heaven to be near to His creation - even engaging in such a pedestrian and mundane activity like sitting in a boat as described in Mark. Picture the God of ages sitting in a boat and speaking with regular people - unbelievable proximity, intimacy and humility! This dance contemplates the juxtaposition between the belief of an unreachable and apathetic higher power versus the belief that God came to be with us in accordance with the Gospel message.
Rooted in research and apologetics, Sat in a Boat explores challenging questions about Christianity performed by dancers Sarah Baker, Sarah Freeman, Rebecca Diane Huang, Elijah Richardson, Marceia L. Scruggs and spoken word artists LDJ and CM2Live. The work also features exquisite singing, music, writing and animation by Donavahn Frierson, Emmanuel Lifschultz, Christa J. Sangster Monroe, and Aly Raden. Audiences were invited to experience an innovative performance that vulnerably, boldly, honestly and intelligently shares a glimpse of a journey of faith. Special panel discussions were hosted immediately after the productions for Q&As.
Sat in a Boat is the first work directed, produced and created by Rebecca Diane Huang to receive support and funding from an Individual Artists Program (IAP) grant by City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE). Sat in a Boat enjoyed two sold-out shows at Athenaeum Center for Thought and Culture and was presented a third time by Creative Encounter at Hope Church Pilsen, serving more than 200 audience members in intimate and powerful settings.
This incredible project is deeply collaborative and would not be possible without the contribution, skill and artistry from each partner. In 1 Chronicles chapter 29, a time of great generosity is described in detail. Starting with King David providing resources of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, onyx, turquoise, fine stones of various colors–all of these in large quantities, then his personal treasures. Then the community gave willingly thousands of talents of silver, bronze and iron, darics of gold and precious stones. It records that “the people rejoiced…for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the LORD” towards the building of the temple, for God’s glory! Sat in a Boat was powerful because each friend gave their all to the project, to thrill and bless the hearts of many. We built a production where the glory and truth of God could be proclaimed, experienced and cherished.
“It was full of real beauty, synchronicity, and I loved the aesthetics. I studied contemporary performance many moons ago in Glasgow, so I was nostalgically transported back to days of discovering choreography and exploring spaces!”
“I definitely enjoyed the spoken word pieces, I enjoyed the second one about the New Testament!! I think it spoke a lot of truth into the Bible that not a lot of people know about unless you are of the Christian faith. Super interesting and informative.”
“I cried. I really appreciated the different forms of worship represented."
“This was no ordinary dance show, but a life-changing one for me.”
“This was a very impactful show. I think it’s easy to say that every single audience member walked out of that building with some big thoughts and feelings on what they just witnessed. For me, the movement was so incredibly purposeful, it made me yearn to be a part of it. I wanted to immerse myself into the process of dancing so wholeheartedly both as a dancer and as a human wanting to worship and talk to God through that medium. The dancers were so invested in the process, choreography, improvisation, and collaboration that it looked second skin. It was very cool to see.”
“I really enjoyed the performance and I appreciated the multimedia. Art takes many forms and many talents! There was something to see and hear and feel. Some parts of the performance sit in mystery while others made more sense as it kept going. I liked the mystery of trying to discern what emotion and experience each dance was leading us to. There are many things I wanted to understand more and felt I could experience the performance better by watching it again. It definitely felt like something you could take something new from with each revisit. Even though so many dancers were on stage I felt everyone was telling their own story, but it didn’t feel chaotic or disorganized.
The poetry part made me think a lot on the facts of Christianity and how tangible it is to reality. More than just a feeling but an impact in real time and real history. Making apologetics into poetry is fascinating.
Overall it was something I would want to see again! It’s also something I would tell so many people about. As a lover of art and performance it satisfies all those loves. As someone who wonders about God and his role in the world and in art I felt the performance helped bring together the heart of man and the need for beauty when talking about God. There is a need for authentic expression in the great questions of “Who is God?” “Who am I?” And “Where is God in my life?”
Art that makes us wonder on deeper things is always more than just good performances.”