Do you have a Mime ministry or looking to start one? Body Wrappers and The Word in Motion Inc. have provided very insightful information about Mime Liturgical Dance. Whether you're already established, just getting started, or just want clarification about Miming, this article provides information about Mime's origins, message, expressions, make-up history, and movements!
Pantomime, also known as Mime, is a dramatic art form using movements and facial expressions to act out a story or an event. Mime can be traced back to the earliest book known to man, The Bible. In Biblical times, God used His prophets to dramatize a message or an event that was coming. In later years, Mime became very popular in the secular arena, branching out as a form of self-expression in ancient Greece. Greek theatres were set up in honor of Dionysus, the God of Theatre. The actors would perform in outside theatres for audiences over 10,000 people. Secular use of Mime caused many in the church to begin to disassociate from any of its forms and considered it perverted. However, the Bible says, All things were created by God and he is reconciling all things back to Himself. (Col 1:16-17) Other cultures began using Mime for festivals and rituals outside of Christianity. Many church embrace Mime as a type of Worship and ministry that originated from God as a sacred art form. Mime continues to flourish today in both the religious and secular arenas as one of the earliest forms of communication.
Acts 21:11 He went right up to Paul, took Paul's belt, and, in a dramatic gesture, tied himself up, hands and feet. He said, "This is what the Holy Spirit says." (from THE MESSAGE" The Bible in Contemporary Language© 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved. This scriptures shows that God used dramatic gestures to send a message to the people.)
Mime is a type of universal art form that uses communication to cross language barriers. In Ezekial 3, God made Ezekial unable to speak because the people would not listen to God's word. Thus Ezekial became a silent prophet who acted out God's messages. Hos 12:10, "I have also spoken to [you by] the prophets, and I have multiplied visions [for you] and [have appealed to you] through parables acted out by the prophets. (To act out mime is to dramatize the message that the mime is composed of.)" Amplified Bible God also used the prophet Hosea to dramatize God's love for his people. Biblical Mime messages were meant to communicate guidance to the people leading to restoration, joy and healing.
Ezekial 4:3 Then take an iron pan, place it as an iron wall beween you and the city and turn your face toward it. It will be under seuige, and you shall besiege it. This will be a sign to the house of Israel.
Exaggerated facial expressions and hand gestures are part of Mime's movements used to capture attention. Facial expressions reflect feelings, mood and emotions the dancer wants to convey. These expressions range from joy and happiness, to fierce and sadness, depending on the message of the mime. For example, a happy/joyous expression may be shown through smiling, laughing, or raised eyebrows. A mime showeing fierceness may be depicted through eyes staring intensly or squinted; eyebrows downward with a slight tightened mouth; twisted to the side or downsward. A sad expression may be represented with eyes drooping and the corners of the mouth turned down. Although mime ministry is unique in its appearance, make-up and movements, it still falls under a liturgical dance category sich as celebration, travail, warfare, worship or prophetic dance just as the prophets dramatized these messaged. Facial expressions are key in conveying not only the type of dance but the unspoken message since no spoken words are used.
Mime's Make-Up History
In Mime ministry, make-up is worn to bring attention to expressions. Make-up helps tell a story and bring the messages to life. The concept of the white make-up symbolizes the glory of God shown on one's face. The Bible states Moses went into the the presence of God and when he came out he had a radiant glow on his face. Ex. 34 vs 34-35. Mime carries a message from God to the people; we must first spend time in the presence of God as Moses did to recieve the message. However, Moses had a natural glow on his face.
Today, people symbolically apply white face paint with black and/or red accents. Theatrical face paint is more durable than the clown make-up purchased at the local party supply store. Reapplying make-up between make-up between dances is used to alter facial expressions ranging from fierce to sad or happy. To accentuate a fierce face, draw the eyebrows more inward. For a happy face, draw an arched eyebrow. To depict Travail Mime or show sadness, add a teardrop or a cross under one eye to symbolize the Travail that took place on the cross. A cross can be used to distinguish between a liturgical and a secular mime. An example of how make-up impacts expression is someone acting out good versus evil in Travail or Warfare Mime, one side of the face white while the other is plain or black to show contrast. Make-up is used to change the shape of a persons face causing features to become more noticeable. A full oval or circular face is smooth and round which affords high arched eyebrows and wide smiles expressing joy. A triangle is narrow bringing higher intensity while allowing more focus on the shape of the eyes and puckering or tightening of the mouth to bring a fierce, serious, expression. A person does not have to wear mime make-up to act out mime . Some prophets dramatized without make-up. In some secular mime shows make-up was not always used to highlight expressions as seen in the old television shows Laurel and Hardy and The Three Stooges. Mime Worship has become very popular in churches in the 21st century.
Some churches shun Mime as ministry because of the make-up controversy. Theatrical make-up is widely accepted in most churches today with some exceptions and Mime is preformed in places of worship without the use of make-up. There is Controversy beacuse in some secular arenas, mime make-up was/is used in festivals to celebrate cultural events. The make-up used in theatres covers up or masks the identity and gender of the performers. This form of mime is viewed as entertainment rather than for Ministry. Thus, in some places of worship as soon as the make-up is used, the mime is misinterpreted and associated with the secular forms of mime rather than viewed as a sacred form of communication by God through the prophets. Despite Misconceptions about mime make-up its use can compliment mime expression while conveying messages and moods to the audience.
Exdous 34:29 Moses didn't realize as he came back down the mountain with the tablets that his face glowed from being in the presence of God. TLB
Mime movements are significant and emphasize not only the message but the feeling behind the message. The movements present a setting by outlining objects with the hands giving a visual image of something; an example is to act if a door knob is being held and the door is opening. Or move hands up na d down, standing in place to depict a wall while other objects or props could demonstrate if the wall was inside or outside of the building; similar to the story of God telling Ezekiel to build a wall as a sign to the people. After the visual concept of the wall is demonstrated , movements could involve knocking the wall down (a mime Warfare), or demonstrating constricted movements; a mime of confinement within walls, symbolizing bondage, or sepration from others and God (a mime of Travail), where the mood is sadness and anguish. This mime demonstrates the need to be rescued by God.
There are many other movements that give you a visual imagery of scenery, time, or events. The mime minister usually faces the audience so eye contact is maintained. Eye contact plays an exteremely important role in communicating and connecting with others. The audience is waiting in anticipation for the next movement as each word or concept builds a silent language and interprets the message. There is a non-verbal dialogue between the audience and the mime minister beacuse people respond to the message being conveyed. A message of celebration would cause clapping and rejoicing. On the other hand a message of Gods love may cause some to bow in adoration. A message of travail may elicit crying as the mime minister might have a symbolic tear drop on his/her cheek. Thus, the movements of the mime minister engages in a non-verbal conversation between himself/herself, the audience and God. White gloves are used to emphasize hand gestures.
Mime movement technique is different from other dance techniques beacuse Posture is very critical as it shows the mood of the message. In Mime as well, the person mostly faces toward their audience so that their expressions can be seen, as apposed to liturgical dance where the focus is more of the movements. The mime minister creates a mood by their facial expression followed by movements that creates a setting. The mime minister then moves within or outside of the frame of his setting to communicate the message and keep the audience focused. Movements range from stiff, rigid to fast, swaying asymmetrical involving quick sharp or contrasting slow motions that freeze in place. These motions allude to a concept of time and space as the mime minister gets the audience to visualize the message behind the movement.
Luke 6:23 Rejoice ye in that day and leap for joy!
Mime is one of the earliest forms of communication. Communication is key in bringing unity to people. Drama was one of the most powerful methods that God chose to speak to His people through the prophets. Mime crosses language barriers through non-verbal communication.
1 Corinthians 2:4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.