How Beautiful are the Feet
Roger W. Lowther
October 22, 2022 • Tokyo, Japan
In the years leading up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, we planned for a flurry of activities including “REACH,” which would be our biggest art conference yet. The theme centered around artists and athletes. Why do we keep pushing through all the blood, sweat, and tears? Why do we sacrifice health, time, money for the performance? We are reaching for something beyond, something transcendent. In the conference, we would explore this fundamental characteristic of humanity, our common pursuit of beauty, and how God speaks through it. Dance would be a big part of the conference as few art forms are as “athletic” as dance.
Unfortunately, the conference never happened.
COVID shut down the country. The Olympics were delayed a year and then drastically cut. People were not allowed to gather. We still aren't.
During that time, Minato City Ballet Company in Tokyo creatively sought a way forward. They were forced to move online, but prices for cameras and live streaming equipment skyrocketed. Much equipment remained sold out for long periods of time. They invested in what equipment they could and learned how to manage streaming technology. The biggest challenge was how to continue their ballet school, the bulk of their income.
"We must not stand still but keep moving forward."Natsko Goto, Vice Executive Director, Minato City Ballet Company
But they didn't give up. They figured out the equipment, which platform to offer lessons on, and how to collect payment. They offered ballet performances online with live streaming, then with live audiences when allowed.
In the face of these challenges, Vice Executive Director of the company and award-winning ballerina Natsko Goto, took up photography to spread their message. She photographed her dancers and entered the pictures in competitions. “How Beautiful are the Feet,” based on the scripture verse, won second place in the EPA international photography competition in Italy.
How can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!" (Romans 10:14–15)
These verses are very popular at foreign missions conferences. Paul says that people around the world will not know the gospel unless they are told, and then goes on to quote Psalm 19, showing that the message not only comes through verbal proclamation but through everything made—by God and by man. This includes the work of dancers and every other artist in every nation and culture. The message of the gospel is beautiful, yes, but so is the means through which that message is communicated, the messenger and the feet of the messenger. Minato City Ballet Company actively seeks to communicate the message of Christ through their art by bringing the good news of peace and salvation and making this world a more beautiful place.
The photograph “How Beautiful are the Feet” shows the feet of each dancer. One foot is in a pointe shoe. The other is bare. One foot is dressed for onstage and is presentable to audiences. The other shows blood, sweat, and tears. On stage, dance is beautiful with costumes, choreography, sets, and music. Off stage, dance is cuts, bruises, sore muscles, and injury. Feet are the means through which they bring the good news and preach the gospel.
Through the pandemic, new ways open for artists around the world to spread the gospel through their art. May God continue to bless our creative efforts and give the strength to “not stand still but keep moving forward.”