Dance in South America - Printable Version

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Dance in South America - Dave - 11-30-2007

Having done a bit of research, I've recently been very encouraged to discover that there appears to be loads of dance happening in churches in the south/latin american countries. The use of tambourines also seems to be very popular. I'd guess that many of these people are poor and don't have easy lives, but still they worship and dance with passion and great joy.

The one thing that has really struck me from this is the relationship between culture, theology, and worship. People in that part of the world are probably naturally far more physically expressive, and that is reflected in the way they worship and what happens in their churches. I very much doubt that dance in the hispanic church is a contentious issue.

I've given a lot of thought recently to the fact that we construct our theology from stuff that we bring to the bible, such as our national, cultural, or even religious backgrounds. The controversy in some circles over the acceptability of worship dance is a prime example of this. People who argue against dance generally do so because they are coming from a culture that does not dance and regards life and faith as primarily cerebral, and this colours their outlook.

Does what I'm saying make sense? Has anyone experienced what I'm talking about? Is the situation similar in spanish-speaking churches in the US?

Dance in South America - DeanZF - 11-30-2007

Our time in Miami was a swim in the Latino culture in that area. We ministered in two large congregations, virtually all from the hispanic community. I honestly don't recall seeing much movement in the one church, but the services in that congregation were not business-as-usual kinds of a services.

The other church was very different. Evening service, healing/revival sort of atmosphere. Most of 90 minutes of worship. LOTS of movement in the aisles, up front, and on the platform. Organized and spontaneous, all going on at once. Wild time. The dance team was garmented and did some choreographed stuff including a tambourine piece. In the aisles, the dancing was what I was used to seeing in the 70s and 80s, kind of the Pentecostal polka. Hops, kicks, spins, dancing with joy and enthusiasm. Some of it was what some have called "The Pogo" as it's primarily hopping up and down where you stand. Very handy for expressing through movement while in very close quarters. Good for canned sardines, too. Smile

In the late 60s I was in the US Air Force and was stationed in Panama. I was very fortunate in that I had LOTS of interaction with the people of the country, not just the Americans on the bases. I actually lived in the city for a couple of years and had lots of local friends. None of the friendships were based on Christianity, and only a couple on my religion of the time, the Baha'i Faith. These were all very passionate people, and dance was a genuine part of their lives. Part of courtship, part of celebration, just part of life. The music was very moving, probably more sensual than anything else.

Life in hispanic communities is about passion. Their music is about passion, no matter what the topic. Lots of passionate love songs, of course, but even passionate about food, about friends, about politics, about EVERYthing, it seemed to me. The music and the dancing to it was just the audio/visual and physical expressions of that passion found at the base of it all.

Crossing that into their Christian lives is a great thing. What a terrific outlet, and a great "target" for their passion, yes?