[Originally posted 6/5/11]
One thing I’ve noticed during the auditions for SYTYCD is that the degree of devotion to dance is not necessarily reflected in a contestant’s talent or ability. The performances range from the ridiculous to the sublime, but with the exception of those performers who are merely hoping to be outrageous enough to appear on TV, each contestant appears to be deeply dedicated to the hard work and pain of becoming a professional dancer. Some even express that “dancing is everything.”
What is it about moving their body to music that connects so intensely with these people? A relatively few will ever become professional dancers, even fewer attain anything like fame and fortune. So, why the commitment to such an onerous, injury-plagued, short-term lifestyle?
I think the answer is joy. These dancers, even the dreadful ones, have experienced the joy to be found in using their bodies to communicate feelings too deep to express in words.
A friend of mine, a middle-aged lady with no dance training or background, uses dance in her daily devotions. Wherever she finds herself in the mornings, whether at home, at a conference or on a mission trip in Central America or Africa, she greets God each morning in dance. She puts in her ear buds, turns on her music and lets her body speak praises to God.
I came upon her unexpectedly while on my own morning walk at a women’s conference and, unnoticed, I watched for a moment, enchanted and inspired.
At a regional women’s conference I once spoke about the many tools God has given us for communication with each other and with him. During a presentation on body language I asked for volunteers to come forward and demonstrate various emotions without words. One of the volunteers was in a wheelchair. She drew a random emotion from the hat and did a brilliant job conveying it, even with her limited mobility. We all understood her meaning. Everyone was moved by her courage. I can’t remember which emotion she acted out, but it looked like victory to me.
Involving the body in communication enhances the message. If you have ever been deeply touched by the sign language interpretation while singing a favorite hymn, you know what I mean. Or if you have watched liturgical dance while Scripture is read. We receive the message on multiple fronts and the impact is intensified.
We are instructed to pray without ceasing. I think that means that everything we think, feel, say, or do should be lifted up to God. We are comfortable offering up our good works, why not our body language?
It is a shame that so many of us are afraid to dance for fear of looking foolish.
King David was once chastised for his public display of joy and thanksgiving to God. In 2 Samuel:6 he replied to his wife’s criticism by saying he would celebrate before the Lord without worrying about his own dignity. This is a good lesson for those of us today who are afraid to show our love of God for fear of public opinion.
In Olivia Newton John’s song, Physical, she sings, “Let me hear your body talk.” Although she has a much different meaning in mind, I always hear that refrain as if it is being sung to me by God. He wants me to walk the walk, feel the joy, and share with him on every level.
He wants to see and hear every body talk to him.
So let’s get physical, physical…….