Holy Order: Shaker Dances is a short tone poem that attempts to recreate a Shaker religious service. While the Shaker hymns have found their way into modern day hymnals and are recognizable, a lesser known aspect of the Shaker experience was the dance - as it was believed that dancing liberated the soul and invited the temporary possession of the individual by spirits from the Beyond. This included the stomping, shaking their heads in a violent manner, scratching, quaking, trembling, screeching, shuffling of their feet, etc. When worship service was over, they would slow down and drop off, one by one, just as oddly as it began.
The basis of the piece is primarily focused upon the uniform displays of dancing the Shakers exhibited in their worship services. The work is divided into 5 sections coinciding with the dances from their worship services: The Holy Order, the Regular Step, the Back Manner, Quick Dance, and the Heavy Shuffle. These 5 movements form a tonal arc, moving away from and back to D, the home note of the piece. The main idea of the work is to build up a series of complex unpredictable textures, tunes, harmonies and rhythmic timing out of the simplest of most familiar musical material derived directly from the Shaker Hymns while depicting there curious habits listed above.