I don't get liturgical dance. Don't get me wrong, I like different kinds of art in worship services, but my experience with liturgical dance is that I don't usually understand it. My wife, on the other hand, has been a competitive dancer. She's introduced me to the FOX show, So You Think You Can Dance. Enjoyable as the show is, there was one dance this season that surprised me.
From Episode 11 of Seqson 12, the dance choreographed by Stacey Tookey really stood out. Tookey provided this setup:
"This piece is about humanity. Today, in our society, prejudice still exists in all its different forms. Although we've come very far, we have a long way to go."
This dance presents a white woman finding aback man she doesn't know, and she has to help him. As Neptune, one of the dancers, describes it,
"We have to learn to trust each other."
I suggest stopping the video after the dance is done.
This dance, with the setup, draws me into worship each time I see it. There are many reasons for this, but rather than explain my response, I'd rather help you reflect on yours.
- What kind of emotional response did you have to the dance?
- What elements drove that response?
- How much explination would you need to present to someone else so they might feel what you felt while watching this dance?
- Did this dance help you to perceive the presence of the trustworthy, reliable Jesus? If so, how?
Experiencing art outside of a church service that draws us into a moment of worship can open us to different ways of experiencing the presence of God in church services. This is part of what God is up to in the world: helping Christians find different ways to express their faith so more people can encounter the good new of God in Jesus.
Art, in all the various forms, can become worship, and not because of a bunch of religious symbols. Art that reaches for the topics of trust, hope, relationship, brokenness, reconciliation--topics that are at the heart of humanity--will always speak more deeply than expected, especially when well executed and with just the right amount of setup. Art is one of the ways God still speaks to us today.