Sexuality in Dance : Ballroom and otherwise

God Is A Ballroom Dancer?

“The early church leaders described the Trinity using the term perichoresis (peri-circle resis-dance):  The Trinity was an eternal dance of the Father, Son and Spirit sharing mutual love, honour, happiness, joy and respect… God’s act of creation means that God is inviting more and more beings into the eternal dance of Joy.  Sin means that people are stepping out of the dance… stomping on feet instead of moving with grace, rhythm and reverence.  Then in Jesus, God enters creation to restore the rhythm and beauty again.” (Changing Worship, 2008)

ICDF Network Coordinators weigh in on “Sexuality in Dance: Ballroom and otherwise” [The following are personal opinions shared during a recent, spontaneous cyber discussion]

[Re: a ballroom dance done at an ICDF Conference] Sexuality never occurred to me, just utter joy and respect. I love Ballroom, and believe it can be executed beautifully, and without unnecessary sexuality.

I love to see men, protecting, supporting, leading, and framing the woman’s beauty.
It seems to me, even if a married couple dance sensually in public, it may invoke temptation to people in the audience that are not. It becomes mild porn. ~ Linda Wells

What I find more interesting than inappropriateness is how to bring that sexual element into play alongside grief or romance or whatever when capturing the texture of a relationship or telling a story. A particular choreography is ‘More like a Whisper’ [music by The Martins] which is danced by a married couple and specifically represents the facets and moods of a sexual relationship. Different couples have learned and presented it, and it’s stunning. When we used it at the annual retreat for staff and volunteers of a healing ministry another of our dancers said, ‘Nobody who’s married could fail to relate to that!’ – but at the end of the weekend we asked each person present on the retreat what had been their best moment. There’d been prayer, liturgies, songs, other dances, but without hesitation more than 3/4 of the folk there said ‘John and Vanessa’s dance’ – including a majority of older people. That’s bringing us back to Song of Solomon again. Sexual themes are not inappropriate – they just need treating well, instead of by accident!

~ Andy Raine 

I’ve seen a ballroom class, at church, perform in the Hillsong Performing Arts concert. On stage waltzing and other styles a Dad and his daughter, an older married couple and young mother and father and their son and daughter dancing as their youngest daughter sang.
This performance moved everyone to tears. There is no black and white. We need wisdom everyday.

~ Roz Hancock 

In my own view, the original dance forms themselves weren’t too sexy, but with commercialisation of dance on popular reality TV shows there has been increasingly undue sexualisation of both the female costuming (too scanty) and movements implying eroticism, distorting what were originally just beautiful and highly skilful artistic expressions of dance types. They are also overly gymnastic which was never a factor when I learnt ballroom and Latin myself.  I myself, 30 years ago was a ballroom dancer – did it all. During that time, men and women had to follow a sensible dress code – modern, neat, gentlemanly for men who had to wear ties – ladylike, modern, modest, but not unduly so as to be prudish for women – and all “in character” with the type of dance style we were presenting.

Sexuality is a gift from God and meant to be a blessing to the other gender, and is always present naturally when men and women mix together. I think in those times of the late 70’s and 80’s when we dressed up to dance we were pretty sexy, but by no means overly `sexualized’ in how we presented to the other gender we were dancing with or to those who watched us perform our dances. It was all about good form and beauty, and interpreting the music as best we could in movement; nothing about outdoing each-other in sexiness or scantiness to eroticize and titillate the others.

~ Andrew Park 

Sexuality in Ballroom?

Firstly attitudes change over time. The Waltz, as some of you know was scandalous. Amongst other things the closeness of bodies in the dance was seen as too far. Today the waltz in all its forms has a very different reputation.

Secondly. Though the rumba is often portrayed as a sexual dance, it is really more romantic. Certainly in medal level lessons there is very little sensuality at all. What the rumba does give you is intimacy. If anyone saw Lena and I dance at St Andrews that dance showed the intimacy between God and worshiper. It was largly rumba (mixed with others).

~ Peter Hothersall 

Susana from Argentina has used the Tango for healing…examples from all styles of dance abound.

Real belly dance is not the sexualised skimpy costumed version that Hollywood started (true), it is an ancient form of women’s dance for women, is done fully covered, and is very good for the body.

Indian dances used for telling Hindu stories redeemed for telling the gospel….
Ballet, jazz & contemporary can be highly sexualised or can be glorifying to God.
Should the Song of Songs be taken out of the Bible ?
The challenges will continue for us as our world becomes more blatantly immoral .
All dance can be redeemed.
We are to hear from the Lord what is OK for the context in which we are called.

~ Hadassah

God truly does use Susana to bring healing through tango.  Who would ever think that? Such an example that all dance can be redeemed for the Lord if done with the right heart.

Purity and Passion are the two words that come to me when I think of ballroom dancing from a Spirit filled heart.

~ Belma Vardy 

I too have my ballroom dancer’s certificates and have competed as a child and later a teen.

Sexuality has never come into it! I guess when you have a passion for dance you can keep it separate from whatever else is going on in your life and development?

From my limited knowledge only Tango and Kizomba has a close body hold, and one can hold back on hip gyrations when presenting it in a spiritual context.

I regularly salsa, and even teach when the beginners teacher can’t be there. There are some (maybe 3 or 4) who see it as a way to flaunt testosterone highs, but in general we are all just friends and go together as a group.

I did have those thoughts about Egyptian and Belly dancing. Having lived and worked 5 years in Lebanon, Egypt, Iran and Syria I have seen this style done for one reason only ….to provoke the men in the audience sexually, often on the table in front of them doing pelvic thrusts in their face.

I actually enjoy a good Egyptian dance especially when the musicians are live. The dancers use of every beat is amazing, and the percussion section (my speciality) is bigger than the melody instruments, but I can’t seem to separate it from things sexual simply due to my experiences in the Middle East!

~ Vera Chierico

You know what I love about ballroom dance – it just feels so great to do it and it’s fun. Also it looks so great done well.

My mum met my dad learning to dance. He was a gentleman as always asked every single girl in the class for a dance so no one would feel left out. He enjoyed the social interaction because he was very shy and this gave him a context to meet people. Let’s say he had a pure heart in that he hoped to meet someone nice to marry, not take advantage of her. He and my mum were not the type to use sexual moves to attract the opposite sex but both wanted to meet someone suitable.

They did and had a long happy marriage. Nice story but perhaps this bygone era has changed.

~ Beth Bluett de Baudistel

A Bit of Church History Background

Sometime around the late 1880’s through to only recent times (c.1970’s), many evangelical church traditions, in their zeal to save their “all are sinners, with a propensity to sin if not stopped” members from their sexual selves, decided fairly arbitrarily to redefine any forms of dance as a “major temptation to sin” as if even a male or female thinking of dancing together was the first significant step into probably fornicating. So to save their flock from themselves they placed a ban on any forms of dancing, especially those involving any type of body-to-body dancing “because it might arouse in them the risk of sinful pleasures” and bring the Church into disrepute.

Early dance pioneers, were exceptionally careful to show how dance did not have to be sexually explicit and suggestive, but could actually be performed in highly artistic, professional and morally healthy and enhancing ways that endowed both performer and audiences with images of a loving, holiness-provoking, fun-loving and non-wowser and non-puerile God, who delights in the beauty, profound communication of faith and love through artistry when men and women dance for Christ and with each other in doing that in Jesus’ name both for personal and missional reasons. ~ Andrew Park

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