LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – A Denver, Colorado dance company narrates through dance the impact of the three churches in St. Landry parish that burned to the ground in 2019.

The arson destroyed St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, Greater Union, and Mount Pleasant Baptist Churches in Opelousas. The idea of using dance to heal the pain began in Lafayette, Louisiana.  

The Executive Director of Performing Arts Serving Acadiana, Jackie Lyle, said that after the church fires she was compelled to create some kind of new performance to keep the conversation going.

“Sometimes they’re fun, sometimes they’re beautiful, and sometimes they’re thought-provoking. This is one that is truly thought-provoking,” Lyle said.

Lyle sent an email about her thoughts on a performance that reflects on violence against houses of worship, reconciliation, and redemption.  

“The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance were who I sent the emails to.  We had phone calls and then the process begins,” Lyle explained.

Lyle said a meeting was held in Louisiana with people impacted by the arson fires.  Their words are narrated throughout the performance.  “That mechanism pulls the audience along,” Lyle added.

Cleo Parker Robinson, founder and artistic director of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance says one key to creating the performance was being able to go to Opelousas and St. Landry Parish where the churches were.

“To really understand the effect it has on a community. I mean you’re really with the people, you really are with the families and you’re with the ministers,” Robinson stated.

Robinson said she worked to make sure the performance first honors the community.

“How do we forgive him? How do we then move forward, and how do we build and rebuild together,” Robinson explained.

Lyle said sacred spaces should begin touring in 2023