In the latest Network Leaders ‘cyber-chat’ session, ICDF network coordinators reflected on some topics relating to Christian dance. Andrew continues his thoughts on freeing dance in worship:
Freedom of (worship) expression
Although I love Christian dance being performed (both formally and informally), sometimes there are “cringe” factors involved in bringing dance into church. There can be fears that adapting dance as a form of worship may not be done skilfully or sensitively enough. Christians and ministers may question its relevance to religious-social context. There may be anxiety about overly emotionalistic and hyper-spiritual expressions of dance in unrestrained and frenzy fashions. We should be aware that concerns Christians and ministers raise about dance may be somewhat justified.
That said, I’d rather allow for the possibility of awkward human behaviour in church than do without dance. Movement in worship and ministry is an important and much-underrated art form — not to mention theologically and creatively rich.
It is good to imagine a better future: one of enriched creative expression and life in the Church for all Christians, of all ages and backgrounds. This better future is partly rooted in increased freedom to dance. This means dancers need to be released from undue repression from unfair institutional restraints. Such restraints are often imposed by church hierarchies and elites seeking to control the worship of others and limit freedom of spiritual and artistic expression.
The Church needs the prophetically imaginative “voice” of dance, as an important part of its narration of Jesus’ vision of his alternative new hope for humankind’s future. The Church needs the inclusion of all art forms to share that new hope with others. Dance is one of the `fruits’ of the prophetically-imaginative, spirited and artistic expression of the hope and vision of the Gospel.
— Andrew (Creative Arts & Social Concern Network Coordinator)