In the latest Network Leaders ‘cyber-chat’ session, ICDF network coordinators reflected on some topics relating to Christian dance. Debbie shares her thoughts about the influence of ‘duality’…
Is a Christian Dancer a dancer who happens to be a Christian, or a Christian who happens to be a dancer? If it’s the former, then a high level of technical training and expertise can be expected (together with the heart of a God-worshipper, we would say). But, if it’s the latter, then the heart of a worshipper will be the key ingredient and physique, training, technical expertise and age will be less important.
Unfortunately, many in the Christian Church do not understand this distinction, and dance can be banned because dancers do not have the expertise or ‘look’ of trained professionals. I have always sought to combine both aspects and, now I am older, I am fortunate to be currently in a church where my dance is honoured and respected, even by those who do not themselves feel comfortable with dance.
A theology of duality
I believe there are further theological issues at work. A major one is that the theological perspective of many, leaders included, is based on a philosophy of duality. The intellectual, rational and verbal are seen as ‘good’ or superior. Meanwhile, the body, feelings, the intuitive, the non-rational and the non-verbal are taken to be ‘bad’ or inferior.
Historically and culturally, the former are often seen as a ‘male’ characteristics, and the latter as ‘female’ characteristics. These ideas come from as far back as the ancient Greeks and, more recently, from Descartes in 17th Century Europe. As a result, a belief has crept into much of the Christian church that men and the intellectual, rational and verbal are superior; but women, the body, feelings, the intuitive, the non-rational and non-verbal, are inferior.
As dance concerns the body, feelings, the non-rational and non-verbal and is most often expressed by women (in many cultures), then dance is banned within the Church. Because of the ‘uncomfortable’ aspects of physical, non-verbal dance, it is seen as something that cannot be controlled; thus, again, dance is ‘banned’ in churches.
— Debbie (AWARe Network Coordinator)