Dance Is What The Soul Looks Like

I went to my cousin’s college dance show today. It was stunning. I haven’t been on stage as a dancer since… March 2009. Ouch. I wanna dance again. I dance constantly alone at home and in the back of the room during worship, of course, but I miss the choreography and the challenge of really pushing myself to express an emotion through every inch of my body.

My favourite thing about dance shows is finding the themes and stories being portrayed through the music and movement (and supported by the lighting, costuming, and all such theatrical elements). My favourite numbers are always the most subtle and abstract, the modern dances that seem to tell a story you can barely catch the edges of. Dance has the ability to celebrate and/or illuminate human nature, the human experience, and the deep shared history that binds us together. Grace and strength, harmony and dissonance. Dance is the story of us.

One of the numbers that opened the show was entitled “Perdido” (which means “lost” in Spanish) and featured a man and a woman on a dark stage. They started slowly, facing each other, and they seemed to awaken and discover each other before breaking away. Their movements seemed to constantly separate and then come back together. There was correlation, symmetry, and also an intensity of discord. I sensed joy and vitality and celebration and unity, and also separation and yearning and despair and confusion and shame. It was as if they needed each other and were bound together, but they were incapable of maintaining the harmony. They ended with the woman leaning backwards over the man’s back as he hunched over with his fists over his face, as though hiding from a deep inner darkness. I don’t know what exactly the choreographer’s original vision was, but to me it was a picture of the Fall. The brokenness of the relationship between Man and Woman, and also between God and his Creation. There was an echo of beauty fractured by fear and shame. It was a profound reflection of the world we live in.

Another of the modern dances that spoke to me was called “Atonement” and featured an ensemble of dancers, male and female, each wearing a straight ankle length black wrap skirt with a bright colour as the lining. Upstage centre was a video screen. The intensity and violence of the music and the dancers’ movements were accented by the images and words flashing across the screen. WAR. POVERTY. TERRORISM. The dance continued, displaying the depravity of humanity and the broken state of our world. The long skirts reminded me almost of ancient Japanese samurai styles, and seemed to represent the ancient violence of this struggle, and the fact that the diverse ensemble of dancers wore the same costume reminded me of the solidarity of humanity. We are all the same; we are all caught inside this beast.

Then the music changed, and a solo dancer performed gracefully while images of Ghandi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King Jr. came across the screen. The soloist was rejoined by the ensemble, and words like PEACE, HUMANITY, and COMPASSION appeared behind the dancers. The music regained intensity, and the struggle continued, displaying the war between light and darkness that humanity is caught in the middle of.

I wondered what the dancers felt as they performed. Did they feel, as I did, that this was a prayer going up to God for salvation from this mess?

Yes, dance can be a prayer. Dance speaks in ways that words can’t. Dance is music made flesh. It’s shape, movement, speed, precision, grace, and strength telling a story in four dimensions. I have danced joy, freedom, and love… and also desperation, anger, and loneliness. In those moments, I feel like what my body is doing on the outside mirrors what my spirit is doing on the inside.

I love the creativity of God that he gave us this art with which to communicate. To dance is to be fully alive and aware and expressive. To dance is to put feelings into motion. Dance is the colour of life.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.”
Ecclesiastes 3:4


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. project21pac
    May 07, 2013 @ 00:14:25

    Thank you for your response to “Atonement,” I feel you really saw my vision for the piece.

    Best regards and much success,


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