Although I have more enthusiasm than rhythm and grace, I have always loved to dance and I’ve enjoyed watching TV shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD)
One thing I noticed during the audition segments for SYTYCD is that the degree of devotion to dance was not necessarily reflected in the contestant’s talent or ability. The performances ranged from the sublime to the sub-par, but with the exception of those performers who were merely hoping to be outrageous enough to appear on TV, the contestants appeared to be deeply dedicated to the hard work and pain of becoming a professional dancer. Some even expressed that “dancing is everything”. Relatively few ever become professional dancers, even fewer attain anything like fame and fortune. So, why the commitment to such an onerous, injury-plagued, short-term lifestyle?
I think the answer is joy. Dancers, even the dreadful ones, have experienced the joy to be found in using their bodies to communicate. When the talent and skill are on a high level, even observers are pulled into that joy.
A friend of mine, a middle-aged lady with no dance training or background, uses dance in her daily devotions. Wherever she finds herself in the morning, whether at home, at a conference, or on a mission trip, she greets God in the morning in dance. She puts in her earbuds, turns on the music and lets her body speak her praises to God. I came upon her unexpectedly at a women’s conference while on my own early morning walk and was enchanted and inspired.
I once spoke at a conference about the many tools God has given us for communication with each other and with Him. During the segment 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 was asked to portray, but it looked like victory to me.
Involving the body in communication enhances the message. If you have ever been deeply touched by sign language interpretation while singing a favorite hymn or if you have been moved by liturgical dance while Scripture is read, you know what I mean. When we receive a message on multiple fronts 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. Our actions speak louder than words and when offered up for God’s approval, they are a form of prayer.
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 sang, “Let me hear your body talk”. Although she had 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…