Although I have more enthusiasm than rhythm and grace, I have always loved to dance. I don’t have too many opportunities to participate in the activity these days, but I do enjoy watching the dance contest shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)
One thing I’ve noticed during the auditions for SYTYCD is that the degree of devotion to dance is not necessarily reflected in the contestant’s talent or ability. The performances range from the sublime to the sub-par, but with the exception of those performers who are merely hoping to be outrageous enough to appear on TV, the contestants appear to be deeply dedicated to the hard work and pain of becoming a professional dancer. Some even express that “dancing is everything”.
What is it about moving one’s body to music that connects so intensely with these people? A relatively few ever become professional dancers, even fewer attaining anything like fame and fortune. So, why the commitment to such an onerous, injury-plagued, short-term lifestyle?
I think the answer is joy. These dancers, even the dreadful ones, have experienced the joy to be found in using their bodies to sing and speak.
When the talent and skill are on a high level then we observers can share in some of that joy.
A friend of mine, a middle-aged lady with no dance training or background, uses dance in her daily devotions. Where ever she finds herself in the morning, whether at home, at a conference or on a mission trip in Central America or Africa she greets God in the morning in dance. She puts in her ear buds, turns on her music and lets her body speak her praises to God. I came upon her unexpectedly while on my own morning walk at a women’s conference and, unnoticed, I watched for a moment, enchanted and inspired.
A few months ago at a regional women’s conference I spoke about the many tools God has given us for communication with each other and with him. During a presentation on body language I asked for volunteers to come forward and demonstrate various emotions without words. One of the volunteers was in a wheelchair. She did a brilliant job and we all understood her meaning. Everyone was moved by her courage. I can’t remember which emotion she drew to act out, but it looked like victory to me.
Involving the body in communication enhances the message. If you have ever been more deeply touched by the sign language interpretation while singing a favorite hymn, you know what I mean. Or if you have watched liturgical dance while Scripture is read. We receive the message on multiple fronts and the impact is intensified.
We are instructed to pray without ceasing. I think that means that everything we think, feel, say, or do should be lifted up to God. We are comfortable offering up our good works, why not our other types of body language?
It is a shame that so many of us are afraid to dance for fear of looking foolish.
King David was chastised for his public display of joy and thanksgiving to God. In 2 Samuel 6 he replied to his wife’s criticism by saying that he would celebrate before the Lord without worrying about his own dignity. That is a good lesson for those of us today who are afraid to show our love of God for fear of public opinion.
In Olivia Newton John’s song Physical she sings, “Let me hear your body talk”. Although she has a different meaning in mind, I always hear that refrain as if it is being sung to me by God. He wants me to walk the walk, feel the joy, and share with him on every level.
So let’s get physical, physical…….