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Dancing is a sin – it promotes immoral behavior and causes us to lose our souls. At least, that’s what some of the world’s religions would have us believe.
Why? Is it because religious leaders do not want us to enjoy any form of pleasure?
Yet, from the earliest, most primitive times, men and woman have found it a natural reaction to start moving to the clapping of hands or the beat of a drum. Maybe it starts simply by tapping the foot but it soon becomes dancing.
And in ancient days, many religions regarded dancing as a form of worship, including it in their rituals and ceremonies – and some still do today. We have Balinese temple dancers and Indian temple dancers – just think – there would be no La Bayadere without them!
But we have just said two words that are the key to the answer – primitive and ancient. Because in primitive and ancient times people worshipped many gods and danced before their idols. It is with the coming of monotheistic religions that dancing becomes a forbidden act, condemned as the work of Satan himself.
Well, times change. Once the waltz was considered indecent, but that did not stop the craze sweeping 19th century Europe – how could it with that irresistible rhythm lifting us out of ourselves to swirl and twirl with our head in the heavens.
And how does this apply to ballet? The great art that is beloved by people all around the world, danced by those fortunate enough to be blessed with the God-given talent to become a professional dancer.
Is it really God-given given?
Who can doubt it after seeing a truly spiritual Giselle or soulful Odette. Once, when I congratulated a ballerina on a fabulous performance, she replied: “Darling, when you’re dancing like that, you’re in the hands of God!” I’m sure a lot of dancers will know exactly what she meant.
Who can doubt it when a watching a transcendental Chopiniana or a sublime Serenade? After a performance of Ashton’s divine Symphonic Variations one critic wrote: “It was as if one had looked into a dewdrop and seen the gods dancing there.”
And it was Balanchine who said “God creates, man assembles.”
So, what do you think? Is it time for the religious establishment to come into the 21st century and acknowledge that dancing is here to stay and accept that ballet is a gift from God?
My view? Belief in God is entirely a personal matter, but if anyone has any doubt, instead of going to church they should worship at the feet of Terpsichore!