Author Topic: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"  (Read 8817 times)

Charles Austin

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #45 on: June 05, 2015, 08:59:25 PM »
certainly not so great a problem as putting pineapple on a pizza.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis. Preaching and presiding for Episcopalians next Sunday.

scott8

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #46 on: June 05, 2015, 10:10:02 PM »
  It is quite unusual for men to dance in such little attire within the dance realm.  (Crikey, even Chippendale dancers wear pants!) 

 Tell it to the New York City Ballet.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqLmH-f9VOw

Must be a New York thing.  :-\


No. It's a professional dance company thing.

Here is a (wonderful, by the way) clip of Rudolf Nureyev in "Sleeping Beauty," a classical ballet, and he is fully clothed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNqVhddnbiQ
   
 For a male ballet dancer in a classical role, that is. The first time my mother (a proper Southern lady) saw a male ballet dancer walk through the hallways while she and I were waiting for class to begin, she promptly clapped her hands over my eyes! And then said, "Well, THAT left nothing to the imagination!" (I was 14.) If one isn't used to seeing male ballet dancers, even with legs fully covered in leotards, well, let's just say it does take some getting used to.

Which is why I both agree with you, Deaconess, and disagree with you. Yes, what works on the stage for a professional dance company may not work in the context of a worship service. Some physical things which are fine in one venue are not in another. It is too distracting, especially when dance in worship is only an occasional thing and not an everyday occurance. The issue is not whether the dancer was male, or had the ability to perform properly.

Where I disagree (and will defend this dancer and the Metropolitan New York Synod in this one instance) is over the matter of whether we actually have enough evidence to make a judgement here. One picture does not tell the whole story. And even if the costume was ill-chosen (and I think it may well have been), that doesn't automatically translate into the entire dance being inappropriate. A little charity toward the arts (and to one sharing his art and his gifts and talents with the church) might be in order.

Of all the things I have complained about in my former synod, this is one I find to be so not a problem.

Yeah, actually I disagree with you here.

An interesting thing just happened.  My parents are in town (my mom is an ELCA pastor), and so I showed them the picture.  My dad, of course, cracked a joke.

However, my eldest daughter was also in the room (11 yrs) and asked to see the picture, too.  I instinctively hesitated, not wanting to expose her to the view that was on full display during a worship service -- for similar but still quite different reasons I would not want to show my 14 yr old son a picture of a woman similarly dressed.  She did not need to see a grown man in that state of deshabille.

But the puzzle was that this was a public worship service done by Lutherans.  Should it not be accessible to all?  Are we now to have a rating system for divine worship?  If so, I can't see this as a "G" rated service.  Perhaps PG-13 or PG at best.  Isn't that in itself a problem?  Shouldn't I be able to show my daughter a picture of the service without reservations, without any qualms?

I think that the picture gives enough information to make a decision as to whether or not it is appropriate for a grown man (or a grown woman) to dance in a costume the equivalent of underwear / hot pants in a worship service.  The dance may have been beautiful (it was apparently done by someone with world-class talent) and the themes may have been great, but the costume is simply wrong.  Incredibly wrong.

And I think I may still be using understatement.

LutherMan

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #47 on: June 05, 2015, 10:13:38 PM »
  It is quite unusual for men to dance in such little attire within the dance realm.  (Crikey, even Chippendale dancers wear pants!) 

 Tell it to the New York City Ballet.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqLmH-f9VOw

Must be a New York thing.  :-\


No. It's a professional dance company thing.

Here is a (wonderful, by the way) clip of Rudolf Nureyev in "Sleeping Beauty," a classical ballet, and he is fully clothed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNqVhddnbiQ
   
 For a male ballet dancer in a classical role, that is. The first time my mother (a proper Southern lady) saw a male ballet dancer walk through the hallways while she and I were waiting for class to begin, she promptly clapped her hands over my eyes! And then said, "Well, THAT left nothing to the imagination!" (I was 14.) If one isn't used to seeing male ballet dancers, even with legs fully covered in leotards, well, let's just say it does take some getting used to.

Which is why I both agree with you, Deaconess, and disagree with you. Yes, what works on the stage for a professional dance company may not work in the context of a worship service. Some physical things which are fine in one venue are not in another. It is too distracting, especially when dance in worship is only an occasional thing and not an everyday occurance. The issue is not whether the dancer was male, or had the ability to perform properly.

Where I disagree (and will defend this dancer and the Metropolitan New York Synod in this one instance) is over the matter of whether we actually have enough evidence to make a judgement here. One picture does not tell the whole story. And even if the costume was ill-chosen (and I think it may well have been), that doesn't automatically translate into the entire dance being inappropriate. A little charity toward the arts (and to one sharing his art and his gifts and talents with the church) might be in order.

Of all the things I have complained about in my former synod, this is one I find to be so not a problem.

Yeah, actually I disagree with you here.

An interesting thing just happened.  My parents are in town (my mom is an ELCA pastor), and so I showed them the picture.  My dad, of course, cracked a joke.

However, my eldest daughter was also in the room (11 yrs) and asked to see the picture, too.  I instinctively hesitated, not wanting to expose her to the view that was on full display during a worship service -- for similar but still quite different reasons I would not want to show my 14 yr old son a picture of a woman similarly dressed.  She did not need to see a grown man in that state of deshabille.

But the puzzle was that this was a public worship service done by Lutherans.  Should it not be accessible to all?  Are we now to have a rating system for divine worship?  If so, I can't see this as a "G" rated service.  Perhaps PG-13 or PG at best.  Isn't that in itself a problem?  Shouldn't I be able to show my daughter a picture of the service without reservations, without any qualms?

I think that the picture gives enough information to make a decision as to whether or not it is appropriate for a grown man (or a grown woman) to dance in a costume the equivalent of underwear / hot pants in a worship service.  The dance may have been beautiful (it was apparently done by someone with world-class talent) and the themes may have been great, but the costume is simply wrong.  Incredibly wrong.

And I think I may still be using understatement.
Like I said, I sleep in more clothes than that...

Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #48 on: June 05, 2015, 10:25:49 PM »
We out here don't need the approval of non-ELCAers far away. Maybe the post was removed because we are disgusted with your response.  Don't need the hassle.

Actually, I first saw it being commented on by those in the ELCA (in a derogatory manner).  Then I saw an ELCA friend post about it with subsequent comments from some other insiders.  It would seem that even those in the ELCA disagree with the costume choice.

Steven W Bohler

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #49 on: June 05, 2015, 10:34:04 PM »
We out here don't need the approval of non-ELCAers far away. Maybe the post was removed because we are disgusted with your response.  Don't need the hassle.

Keep that sentiment in mind next time you want to post on something in the LCMS.  Please.

Chuck

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #50 on: June 05, 2015, 10:40:54 PM »
Which is why I both agree with you, Deaconess, and disagree with you. Yes, what works on the stage for a professional dance company may not work in the context of a worship service. Some physical things which are fine in one venue are not in another. It is too distracting, especially when dance in worship is only an occasional thing and not an everyday occurance. The issue is not whether the dancer was male, or had the ability to perform properly.

Where I disagree (and will defend this dancer and the Metropolitan New York Synod in this one instance) is over the matter of whether we actually have enough evidence to make a judgement here. One picture does not tell the whole story. And even if the costume was ill-chosen (and I think it may well have been), that doesn't automatically translate into the entire dance being inappropriate. A little charity toward the arts (and to one sharing his art and his gifts and talents with the church) might be in order.

Of all the things I have complained about in my former synod, this is one I find to be so not a problem.
Well said, Pr. Wolf.

Of course the deaconess has yet to explain how she thinks this is different from the LCMS National Youth Gathering a couple years ago.

It appears that the original posting in the "Prayers Requested" thread was solely for the purpose of scorn, else why post it there? Stones and glass houses and all that, you know.
Chuck Ruthroff

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it. —George Bernard Shaw

Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #51 on: June 05, 2015, 10:42:51 PM »
Yeah, actually I disagree with you here.

An interesting thing just happened.  My parents are in town (my mom is an ELCA pastor), and so I showed them the picture.  My dad, of course, cracked a joke.

However, my eldest daughter was also in the room (11 yrs) and asked to see the picture, too.  I instinctively hesitated, not wanting to expose her to the view that was on full display during a worship service -- for similar but still quite different reasons I would not want to show my 14 yr old son a picture of a woman similarly dressed.  She did not need to see a grown man in that state of deshabille.

But the puzzle was that this was a public worship service done by Lutherans.  Should it not be accessible to all?  Are we now to have a rating system for divine worship?  If so, I can't see this as a "G" rated service.  Perhaps PG-13 or PG at best.  Isn't that in itself a problem?  Shouldn't I be able to show my daughter a picture of the service without reservations, without any qualms?

I think that the picture gives enough information to make a decision as to whether or not it is appropriate for a grown man (or a grown woman) to dance in a costume the equivalent of underwear / hot pants in a worship service.  The dance may have been beautiful (it was apparently done by someone with world-class talent) and the themes may have been great, but the costume is simply wrong.  Incredibly wrong.

And I think I may still be using understatement.

BINGO.  I had the same thought about children or impressionable youth witnessing this without expecting it, but I presume there aren't any/many at a Synod gathering like this.  I wouldn't pay to watch a production with such costuming nor take my children to one (and I did consulting work for a professional ballet company), so I certainly wouldn't want to be subjected to it in worship.  I thought he was appropriately dressed in the video I linked to above, so I'm not sure why the deviation in this particular venue.  Any way, not my circus.  This just happened to get my attention yesterday as a result of the Facebook comments showing up in my feed by many ELCA members.  It was actually refreshing that they voiced their concerns about this . . . it gave me some hope.

I guess we should be grateful it was more than a fig leaf used for costuming.   :)

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Gen 3:7)

Buckeye Deaconess

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #52 on: June 05, 2015, 10:48:23 PM »
Of course the deaconess has yet to explain how she thinks this is different from the LCMS National Youth Gathering a couple years ago.

You posted a link to a meme on Facebook that was not part of an official church organization.  I have no idea if that was an actual picture from a Youth Gathering.  If it was and should ever be replicated, I would be having a few words with those in charge of the event.  The actual photo I first linked to was on an official church organization page, now removed apparently because of the negative attention it drew.  Obviously many others have a problem with the choice of attire.

As I mentioned above, I was particularly surprised at the amount of negative comments being made by those WITHIN the ELCA.  That is how it got my attention.

NCLutheran2

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #53 on: June 05, 2015, 11:43:03 PM »
I see far, far more skin during my visits to Wal-Mart than I do this picture. Perhaps it is because it is hotter in the South, or maybe we are just too poor to afford much fabric  ;), but I really don't think his clothes are that revealing, especially since it looks like he is the middle of a movement. Who knows how the outfit could have moved/stretched/failed at that particular moment that led to an unfortunate picture?

Granted, it is a little odd to see it on a man, but I wouldn't blink twice at shorts like that on a woman. However, the male form I am most used to seeing is that of plumber's crack or beer belly bursting from underneath a stretched t-shirt variety...

Although I have to admit I do not have a very favorable opinion to liturgical dance, I file this one under the "good in theory, but bad in practice" category. There are far too many variables in dance to make a judgement from one picture. I don't think any of us would have trouble thinking of several cringe-worthy moments during services ourselves, either.
« Last Edit: June 05, 2015, 11:46:11 PM by NCLutheran2 »

scott8

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #54 on: June 05, 2015, 11:57:41 PM »
I see far, far more skin during my visits to Wal-Mart than I do this picture. Perhaps it is because it is hotter in the South, or maybe we are just too poor to afford much fabric...

Same is probably true in Ohio where the upper crust ask the eternal question, "Do you want fries with that?"

But I work in Portland.  Yup, home of the naked bicycle ride.  Home of Last Thursday on Alberta where I saw I large, hairy man in a thong (and nothing else) being led on a dog chain by a guy on stilts last time I was there.  Or then there's the 70-ish hairy guy who lives along a busy 4-lane road and was working on his car barefoot wearing nothing but tighty-whiteys (or, I guess, tighty-grayies, given their, um, state).  So this type of stuff is a wee bit more common up here than in many places.

I'm still pretty sure none of them should be dancing in church dressed (or undressed) like that, however.

peter_speckhard

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #55 on: June 06, 2015, 12:50:29 AM »
The picture was self-caricature. Defending that act as somehow being salutary for a worship service is laughable. Recently Richard Johnson asked me about possibly doing project together for FL in which I gave my impressions of the ELCA and he gave his impressions of the LCMS. If I simply submitted that picture I'd be accused of a low blow. Stop trying to justify it and simply admit it was silliness on display and just as well that those in authority came to their senses and took the picture down. Yeah, I know, David. David did a lot of things, not all of them worth imitating.

NCLutheran2

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #56 on: June 06, 2015, 01:11:00 AM »
I'm still sure none of them should be dancing in church dressed (or undressed) like that, however.

While I prefer to not mix dance and church, period, I've been exposed to it through my girlfriend's family's church, who regularly features their dance troup. It's really amazing how it always seems to happen, but I always seem to get an emergency phone call right before that portion of the service.

Seriously, I tend to agree, but the only thing that makes me think this could be legitimately okay is that the guy appears to be turning mid-stride, for lack of better words. I think anyone's clothes would ride up if they did that. If he was just standing there and they were that short, it would be different.

Quote
But I work in Portland.  Yup, home of the naked bicycle ride.  Home of Last Thursday on Alberta where I saw I large, hairy man in a thong (and nothing else) being led on a dog chain by a guy on stilts last time I was there.  Or then there's the 70-ish hairy guy who lives along a busy 4-lane road and was working on his car barefoot wearing nothing but tighty-whiteys (or, I guess, tighty-grayies, given their, um, state).  So this type of stuff is a wee bit more common up here than in many places.

I have always observed that the more permissible nudity is, the less attractive the people practicing said nudity are.  :D
« Last Edit: June 06, 2015, 01:13:16 AM by NCLutheran2 »

LutherMan

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #57 on: June 06, 2015, 01:17:54 AM »

I have always observed that the more permissible nudity is, the less attractive the people practicing said nudity are.  :D
Yep.  When I lived in San Diego and went to Black's Beach at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, the nudies were always tons of fun and looked like leathery Jabba the Hut's...

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #58 on: June 06, 2015, 02:59:52 AM »
Also consider that dressing (or lack thereof) for a large crowd in a hotel ballroom is probably less fitting for a closeup picture. That's also true for gestures that need to be large to be seen by a few hundred people, but become quite exaggerated when the speaker is televised and picture closeup on a screen. Before microphones, we were told to project to the people in the back of the room (which appears like shouting for those (if any) sitting in the front pews.


The impression we get from a still photo is likely to be a bit different than if we had seen him in continual motion.


In contrast to the dancer's clothing, pictures of Bishop Rimbo show him well-vested when presiding at worship.


The thought also comes to mind that the comments indicate more about the critic than they do the actual event. Dancing in skimping clothing (as we can all see on Dancing with the Stars, as well as the video of the New York ballet) was probably normal for him. Perhaps, in a similar way, should there have been a rock and roll band or reggae group doing the music in their style; people would complain because they don't believe that's the proper kind of music for worship services.


Note: I served for five years as a co-chair of a synod worship committee. While we worked with and helped the committees who planned synod worship services and worked with trying to make them high quality that would be meaning to all the people attending the events; we didn't always know exactly what was going to happen; or how people would react. We have had people walk out of something that others said was the most meaningful part of the assembly.


We often had to trust someone would say, "We have an excellent liturgical dancer (or organist or pianist or choir) in our congregation who's willing to perform. These are his credentials." We give the OK, not knowing for sure what they will do or how well. No one, except the dancer, may have known about his attire until he began.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Charles Austin

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Re: "Liturgical Dance? Really?"
« Reply #59 on: June 06, 2015, 06:49:52 AM »
Back when I was an affiliated pastor at St. Peter's, Manhattan, we had a professional dancer who sometimes led the procession on holidays. One Christmas Eve, she carried a bowl of incense and her graceful moves and leaps sent clouds of frankincense smoke down the aisles and around the altar. Now, I suppose if one were to focus on the revelatory diaphanosity of her body stocking and airy cape/cope, which in certain light displayed in gauzy, yet discernible detail those blessings with which the Blessed Virgin Mary nourished the Christ Child, one might be inclined to take offense.
However, in context - please note, in the context of that procession and service, attended by New Yorkers and a few New Jerseyans and residents of Connecticut, none but the most small-minded would have found anything wrong with her dress.
But take her picture, isolating it from the setting, music and movement; and you might have a perfume ad in Vogue.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, Nw York and New Jersey. LCA and LWF staff. Former journalist. Now retired, living in Minneapolis. Preaching and presiding for Episcopalians next Sunday.