That may be a strong statement to start off a blog post, so let me elaborate a little here. I do understand the medium of dance as a creative expression, and I appreciate it in things such as ballets or stage performances. I understand it as a response to the rhythm in music and I can comprehend how people enjoy and participate in dance. I even understand it as an expression of joy and worship to God in the same way that I love to sing. But what I don’t get is why in some churches, people insist on spontaneously running up on stage and twirling around before gracefully bending over double and lying on the floor in front of the congregation! There are times when this is totally right and it is clear that God is working through the dancer, but there are times that it isn’t and that can be very distracting.
I remember a few years back standing at the side of the main stage in the big top at Spring Harvest ready to go on and talk about what the young people were up to. While I was waiting, the band were leading worship and three dancers were taking it in turns to do their thing on stage while the others waited at the side. As one dancer finished her move (with a flag), she came to the side of the stage. Realising her two partners were also off the stage, she urgently whispered: “Quick, there’s no-one dancing! Someone get up there now!”
Up until that point, I hadn’t taken much notice of the dancing. But I then watched as one of them sprang into life and launched herself onto the stage in a complicated spin, twist, dive, stretch-arm-out, bow-head manoeuvre simply to fill out the space on the platform. If the dancer’s role was to worship God in their expressive way, why was it so important that one of them was always seen on the stage?
I don’t tell that story to dismiss the medium of dance as worship, nor to criticise those who do it, but I do sometimes question the motive. If you’re worshipping God, do it wherever you are in the congregation. I don’t have to go onto stage to be able to sing!
Last week at church we started with a choreographed dance involving some of the young people. I didn’t really appreciate the complexities of what they were doing, how they moved, or even if it was any good. Rather, I loved seeing their faces filled with excitement and joy as they used their skills. That’s the best kind of dancing for me!