QUAERITUR: Is liturgical dance legitimate?

Liturgical Dance Free ZoneFrom a reader:

I have been Catholic for two and a half years and today I went to theparish I attend to become a RCIA sponser. The subject of LiturgicslDance came up and I was informed that it is a perfectly ligetimatething to do durring the Liturgy. Is this True?

I have been Catholic for two and a half years and today I went to theparish I attend to become a RCIA sponser. The subject of LiturgicslDance came up and I was informed that it is a perfectly ligetimatething to do durring the Liturgy. Is this True?

I would like to see in the rubrics where the dancers are to come in.

Aside from that, I open the floor to the readers to respond.

Let’s keep it above the level of “they are poopy-heads for doing that”.

Along the line, inculturation, continuity, and the rite have to be dealt with.

And let’s leave aside for the moment issues of good taste.

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70 Responses to QUAERITUR: Is liturgical dance legitimate?

  1. JohnRoss says:

    In the Ethiopian rite.

  2. aarmstrong says:

    I don’t believe their are rubrics for liturgical dance in the Missale Romanvm…so, I would assume not. Cardinal Arinze however, makes the point that for cultures where dancing is a intrinsic part of the cultural identity, liturgical dance can be proper and good–if done for the sake of the offering of the Mass.

  3. digdigby says:

    This is my limit for liturgical dance. There is a reverence, some tradition and freshly scrubbed boys in blazing white shirts and black pants – girls dressed in modest native attire in rural Zambia! The old fellows in leopard skins look like Knights of Columbus types.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWy-vsn67Bg&feature=related

  4. aarmstrong says:

    Adding to that, Cardinal Arinze stated that “… in North America and Europe dance should not enter the liturgy-at all. And the people that discuss liturgical dance should spend that time saying the rosary.”

  5. theophilus says:

    I think it can be proper in the right culture….

    “And David danced with all his might before the Lord: and David was girded with a linen ephod. ”
    2Sam6:14

  6. Supertradmum says:

    Some of the Popes in the recent past have allowed liturgical dance at various outside Masses, particularly ethnic dances. I have been informed that these Popes did not actually know the content or manner of the dances before these happened, but these were allowed. It seems to me that there is a difference in our common Western tradition regarding dance and that of other countries. Without getting too specific and being charged with racism or ethnic elitism, I would say that in our own culture, dance does not mean the same thing as in other cultures. Dance has been entertainment in the West, and not symbolic, unless one is a Native American. In our culture, liturgical dance has been contrived, sexually dubious, and totally against the norm of reverence common to Western places of worship, whether in a Church or in a field in Iowa. I find all liturgical dancing disturbing, as it places too much attention on the participants and feels like entertainment at best and irreverence at worst. I am against any additions to the sublime beauty which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and I think that as the sacrificial aspect of the Mass is emphasized again, as opposed to the “family meal” we shall find such things disappearing. Again, the New Mass will help this. If liturgical dance is legitimate, it is not always appropriate.

  7. AndyMo says:

    I think it can be proper in the right culture….

    “And David danced with all his might before the Lord: and David was girded with a linen ephod. ”
    2Sam6:14

    He wasn’t in the temple.

  8. MJ says:

    Let’s keep it above the level of “they are poopy-heads for doing that”.

    B-b-but…aw, man!

    Btw, I LOL’d very hard at reading that, Father! :)

  9. theophilus says:

    AndyMo said-
    [—
    He wasn’t in the temple.
    —]

    He was directly in front of the Ark after sacrificing an ox and a ram. Do you think that this space is somehow of lesser dignity? It is not the temple that sanctifies the space. It is the presence of God.

  10. Luvadoxi says:

    I was in Hawaii on a Marian feast day, and girls about the age of these danced in tasteful native costume; it was lovely, but of course everyone applauded and that took away from the “it’s an offering for Mary” vibe, in my opinion.

  11. Luvadoxi says:

    I liked the African dance in the video, and the atmosphere of reverence and joy, and the choir dress! I couldn’t tell, though, was the music and dance kept up throughout the consecration, or was that edited in later? Anyway, I do like the native dance, which is restrained and reverent, it seems.

  12. edm says:

    The dance performed by Los Seises in the cathedral in Seville.

  13. bmccoy says:

    The mass is the un-bloody representation of our Lord’s Sacrifice at calvary. I can scarcely imagine anyone dancing at the foot of the cross. Why then would you want to dance at Mass? I understand that they’re (hopefully) not running up and down the aisles during the consecration, but I don’t see where it could have a proper place in the Roman Rite. Should they dance during the Penitential Rite, or the Readings, or the Sermon? For our western culture and our rite of Mass it would seem no form of dancing is really fitting to take place during the Mass. If there is to be any dancing, let it be your soul at the reception of Holy Communion as you and Our Blessed Lord are profoundly intertwined both spiritually and physically in an act of love which can not be fully fathomed by our meager human intellect.

  14. Trad Catholic Girl says:

    Oh, how I miss liturgical dance of the 1970s, so much so that I decided to choreograph my own routine! I tried to recruit our parish priests to join the dance troupe but they refused for some reason…guess I will have to find some puppets to supplement the chorus line!

  15. dmwallace says:

    ROME, 5 OCT. 2004 (ZENIT)
    Answered by Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical University.

    Q: Is so-called liturgical dancing allowed in English-speaking countries where traditionally dancing is not regarded as culturally proper? Can it be carried out during solemn occasions such as the celebration of the Mass? — F.Y., Auckland, New Zealand

    A: The document that comes closest to being an official commentary on this theme hails from an essay published by the official organ of the then Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Notitiae, 11 (1975) 202-205.

    [Readers can go there to read this.]

  16. Is liturgical dance legitimate?

    This is actually the wrong question. The correct question is:

    Is liturgical dance acutely embarassing when performed in the wet and dull UK climate by a group of middle aged men who were turned down by the local morris dancers for being ‘too keen’ accompanied by a number of ladies ‘of a certain age’ who will freely (and with malace aforethought) use the phrase “now lets worship the Lord with our bodies” and not think it is funny?

    The answer to the first one is sadly yes the answer to the second one is a much stronger yes.

    Dance as worship – yes that seems reasonable and there are a number of other comments above which indicate it could be appropriate in context however I tend to veer towards bmccoy’s argument about the appropriateness in the Mass itself.

    For bonus points – can anyone see this happening in the EF mass..?

  17. Don says:

    Apparently our previous bishop was presiding at a Mass in a local parish where some type of “liturgical dance” was done. According to the story, the bishop turned to the pastor and said “I’m not sure what I think of this, but if she asks for your head on a platter, she’s got it!”

  18. Nan says:

    I have an acquaintance who is a minister from the United Church of Christ and whose father was also a minister. He very proudly mentioned that his mother was a pioneer in sacred dance. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have met the son of one of the perpetrators of liturgical dance! I’m told that some of her dances may be found on youtube but have forgotten her name.

    If the Liturgy is supposed to be the same throughout the Latin Rite, I should be able to go to Mass anywhere in the world and, based on format, should understand what’s going on, whether or not I understand the words being used. If liturgical dance is included, I won’t know what part of the liturgy we’re in.

    Note that I went to an Easter Vigil a couple of years ago that included liturgical dance and all day on Easter Sunday I felt wrong because I wasn’t convinced that it was Mass. I ended up at the last Mass at the Cathedral where a lovely young priest administered the antidote.

  19. moconnor says:

    I sympathize with my dance colleagues who feel that their art is somehow not considered worthy of giving to the Lord, but true liturgical “dance” is the ceremonial movements of the priest and servers. A well-practiced group of clergy celebrating the EF moves with great grace, as do the servers. If “interpretive dance” is overlaid on the liturgy, it draws attention away from the prescribed ceremonial movements. Therefore it is not appropriate.

  20. Clinton says:

    dmwallace: Thank you. That seems to pretty much cover it.

    I have one observation to add to the discussion– Why do you suppose it is that the
    people who insist that liturgical dance is reverent and appropriate are so often the
    same folks who insist that any kneeling during the Mass must be eliminated?

  21. disco says:

    I believe the rubrics call for the dancers to enter immediately following the blessing of the giant puppets…

  22. frjim4321 says:

    Hmmm, the combox crashed mightily just before this, so trying again.

    I have seen some liturgical movement that was effective (incense, gospel procession, etc.) when it involved a particularly graceful execution of something that is already supposed to be there, but as something added it never seemed to work for me.

    Generally speaking many accretions are distracting and detracting. The dear 2nd grade teacher who insisted that every child in the First Communion class “had something to do” during the mass provided an example of this. At the preparation there was a procession during which the children “dressed” the altar and brought up symbols of wheat, grapes, loaf of bread and wine to serve as decorations around the altar. Yes, bread and wine as altar decorations on little stands around the altar. I could not convince the dear woman that it made no sense whatsoever. But the children had their little dance around the altar so they could have “something to do.” At the time I was neither 2nd grade moderator or pastor, so there was not much I could do.

    I would put movement list this and dance it in the category of “communion reflections,” or “eulogies,” which are usually very individualistic and not contributing to the prayer. Sort of like adding the Ave Maria to a wedding or funeral for no other reason than it makes the tears start flowing so everyone can get their catharsis.

    Not being a fan of liturgical dance I remember the seminary spritual directer who was asked by one of guy if he could do a liturgical dance and he said, “yes, as long as I can pick the costume.” That was the end of that discussion.

  23. frjim4321 says:

    = “movements like this”
    guy = guys

  24. but true liturgical “dance” is the ceremonial movements of the priest and servers. A well-practiced group of clergy celebrating the EF moves with great grace, as do the servers.

    Fair point – well made – bonus points are yours.

    If “interpretive dance” is overlaid on the liturgy, it draws attention away from the prescribed ceremonial movements. Therefore it is not appropriate.

    Absolutely. Forgive me for impugning your colleagues but you have hit the nail on the head here. The questions should always be:
    1. Is this helping the congregation to pray or distracting them?
    2. Is this Prayer to God / Worship of God or something else?
    and if so:
    3. Is this being done for personal renown / recognition or a desire to gain participation in some way etc (although I doubt that this is hardly ever the case I have seen it at a large protestant event where it was clearly a case of ‘get the youth out and give them something to do to be involved’)

  25. Rich says:

    “Liturgical Dance & Cardinal Arinze” on YouTube: an engaging response from the prefect of the Congregation on Divine Worship himself.

  26. JeffTL says:

    moconnor hit the nail on the head. The liturgy already is choreographed by the legitimate rubrics and instructions. It’s as redundant as painting the lily to impose another level of dance onto it.

  27. How is liturgical dance congruent with active participation in the congregation?

  28. tzard says:

    **if** liturgical dance is used – it truly has to be central to the culture. Western culture typically (rightly or wrongly) does not place dance in this central point (puritanism?). Yet, take polynesian culture – you’d have dancing at governmental ceremonies. In England – do you see dancing in parliment? OR the US Supreme court chambers? How about at wedding ceremonies? Afterwards, yes – but not *during*.

    There’s the other issue of whether our society, as it currently is, is competent to make a judgemnt whether liturigal dancing is fit to use. They can’t even make the proper judgement to say the black and do the red!

    I think the prohibition of using in in European or North American culture is wise. While Scottish dancing, or indigenous dancing may work – it’s hard to say with a straight face that interpetive dancing is part of our culture – a culture which is defined by the latest fad. A fad which changes at the whim.

  29. Annie says:

    @ Licensed Fool:

    Don’t forget the very young ladies of a certain age wobbling and wiggling away (or do I mean flaunting?) in lycra and chiffon! That’s just as cringey and so dodgy, IMO. I mean, custody of the eyes? It’s so awful you want to HIDE!

    If you want to, uh, ‘dance’, save it for the church social. No place for any at Mass. And please, no lycra, ever.

  30. Glen M says:

    “Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy…It is totally absurd to try to make the liturgy “attractive” by introducing dancing pantomimes (wherever possible performed by professional dance troupes), which frequently (and rightly, from the professionals’ point of view) end with applause. Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment. Such attractiveness fades quickly–it cannot compete in the market of leisure pursuits, incorporating as it increasingly does various forms of religious titillation.” Cardinal Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy (pg 198)

  31. asacjack says:

    I think this sums it up nicely:

    “Dancing is not a form of expression for the Christian liturgy.

    In about the third century, there was an attempt in certain Gnostic-Docetic circles to introduce it into the liturgy. For these people, the Crucifixion was only an appearance…Dancing could take the place of the liturgy of the Cross, because, after all, the Cross was only an appearance. The cultic dances of the different religions have different purposes – incantation, imitative magic, mystical ecstasy – none of which in compatible with the essential purpose of the liturgy as the ‘reasonable sacrifice’.

    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
    (now POPE BENEDICT XVI)
    SPIRIT OF THE LITURGY
    Ignatius Press
    Page 198

  32. Conchur says:

    Liturgical dance => Anathema sit!

  33. Mark of the Vine says:

    Before anyone says liturgical dance never existed in the Roman rite, I call your attention to the following: http://accionliturgica.blogspot.com/2011/09/octava-del-corpus-en-valencia.html

    A form of liturgical dance appeared in the 17th century in Spain, for the Octave of Corpus Christi, and continued until the 19th century, to be revived again in the 20th.

    Now I know the liturgical dance Americans have experienced or imagine is not like this, but it is worth pointing out that it is not unheard of in our Roman rite. (Note: I am neither making a case for nor against; merely presenting the facts)

  34. Gregg the Obscure says:

    It was fitting and proper for King David to engage in liturgical dance. It was also appropriate for him to have multiple wives. Times have changed. Liturgical dance is no more appropriate in the Church than is polygamy.

  35. kallman says:

    I attend the TLM. No possible role for this even in the courtyard after Mass. Get a grip.

  36. mike cliffson says:

    Following edm
    Seises, the liturgical dance and dancers in Seville Cathedral.
    Part of a musical tradition going back to mozarabic times, though then, if liturgical I’d suspect more by way of samelikey military precision to thrythm,(cf Holy week processions, yes, mostly on the street, to drums , in old Castille and Leon up to 30yrs ago, once tourists arrive things change) or probably, certainly as we know it, not quite so rooted.(minor clergy ->boys)
    Seville Cathedral. 3 times a year.( Corpus Christi, Inmaculate Conception, Tridium around Ash Wednesday. Centuries of Tradition. Rome’s (complaint:Rome always misunderstood) wishes apparently always respectfully resisted, not ignored whereas other parts Andalusia gave up….. Boys (historically, many vocations)ritual movements (with which the liturgy was once fuller) with music , rather than sensuous dance.Never professional nor semiprofessional , costumed and hatted, NEVER accepted as separable folkclore or concert material. Moderntimes:In danger of vulgarization and tourist attraction.So called sieises on streets in Cadiz probably as authentic as halloween nuns.
    Youtube: consider when viewing that it´s a bit like first communions: family and friends are , according to internet comments, a bit there for the occasion.
    Consider the forties, when the idea was wholly separable for the then Archbishop, etc. from the publicly combated social dancing, considered licentious.

  37. Legisperitus says:

    The Bible gives us no clue what King David’s “dance” looked like, but I think we can be reasonably confident it didn’t look like either Snoopy doing “The Beagle” or some “New Age” hippy-dippy self-expressive free-flowing catastrophe. An ephod is not a leotard; it was a priestly garment.

    In its broadest sense “dance” is any choreographed movement, so David’s “dance” may have simply consisted of some of the conventional religious obeisances of the time. Think in terms of the ritual movements of the priest as he incenses the Altar, or the synchronized genuflections of the servers in what you might almost call the “ballet” of the traditional Mass. That may be in the ballpark of what David did before the Lord.

  38. Nathan says:

    In the context of a number of cultures, dancing is a legitimate expression of love of God and joy with His gifts. One could also argue that in many American communities, livestock judging is a legitimate expression of love of God and joy with His gifts. I’m not sure that either is appropriate during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    I think the basic principle is stated clearly in the Vatican II document Sacrosanctum Concilium, para 22(3): “Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority.”

    In Christ,

  39. Phil B says:

    It’s surely right and good to pray while dancing, but I’m not so sure about dancing while praying.

  40. WGS says:

    By the grace of God, I am in an Extraordinary Form parish. Still, I’d be willing to bet that most “liturgical dance” routines face the “audience” rather than the altar as would be appropriate for an offering to God. Then, one mom or dad enthusiasticaly applauds, and this further distraction spreads through the congregation. So it goes also for sung solos and special instrumental ensembles. Aha! – another good reason for locating the choir loft at the west end.

  41. rakesvines says:

    If God puts the urge to dance in someone’s heart, then by all means he should dance – in his heart. The Liturgy is a communitarian activity and what is a personal movement should be subordinated to the needs of the community.

  42. rfox2 says:

    I believe any form of liturgical dance has been prohibited in the United States.

    The Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, in 1975, issued a Notitiae (11 (1975) 202-205) regarding liturgical dance. In it, it states that (and rightly so) “dance has never been made an integral part of the official worship of the Latin Church.” That document does not expressly forbid dance in the liturgy, however the newsletter from the 1982 National Conference of Catholic Bishops states “all dancing, (ballet, children’s gesture as dancing, the clown liturgy) are not permitted to be ‘introduced into liturgical celebrations of any kind whatever.'”

    My hope would be that all forms of dance would be prohibited both via Canon Law and expressly forbidden in the GIRM and Roman Missal. Liturgical dance focuses attention on the individual performance and the human elements of the Mass to the exclusion of the Divine. The same would be true if we permitted string quartets to perform near the altar during Mass. There are also instances where liturgical dance is an occasion for sin due to the way the performers dress and move. We may as well allow pole dancers on either side of the altar during Mass.

  43. Conchur says:
    8 September 2011 at 6:19 am:

    Liturgical dance => Anathema sit!

    Actually, I think you meant:

    Liturgical dance? = Anathema! Sit!

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  44. Young Canadian RC Male says:

    sigh. If it isn’t allowable in the rubrics, don’t do it. Say the Black and Do the Red.

  45. ecs says:

    Thankfully I have not had to endure the liturgical disaster that is liturgical dance for many years. Few things which occur in the Novus Ordo will cause me to gather my children and head for the nearest exit as quickly as possible than the busting out of a dance routine in the middle of Mass. Liturgical dance is a disgrace and an abomination in every context and circumstance.

  46. pattif says:

    Cardinal Arinze gave a talk in Westminster Cathedral a few years ago, in which he was very clear that there was no place for liturgical dance in the Mass. “It is true,” he said, “that Africans have a more rhythimical way of moving than Westerners, “but it isn’t dance in that sense. The place for dance is in the church hall after Mass.”

  47. Philangelus says:

    I’m not going to say liturgical dance is a good thing as done in American parishes. HOWEVER…

    1) the rubrics of the Mass *do* indicate we are to worship with our bodily posture: the priest’s gestures are often prescribed if he’s saying the black and doing the red. The congregation is instructed to stand, kneel, perform the sign of the cross. We have a certain posture we are to assume while receiving Communion.

    2) we are creatures who have bodies. Therefore there must be an appropriate way to use those bodies in our worship of the Creator of those bodies

    3) there is music at Mass

    So I can see how someone would connect the dots and say “If the priest is expected to make certain motions in time with certain words he’s saying, the choir can make certain motions in time with the words we’re singing…” I think that’s the most charitable way I can come up with to explain the phenomenon.

    The children’s choir once did Awesome God with a whole lot of hand motions. It was cute. I’m not sure cute is what we’re striving for during Mass.

  48. Choirmaster says:

    The only “liturgical dance” that I have witnessed or can imagine has been part of a procession, and at that mostly just a waving of banners. I’m wondering whether movements (specifically rhythmic movements) and/or gestures during processions (not necessarily liturgical processions) count as some form of “dance” that is acceptable in our western Church and culture.

    I’m also thinking about the timed turns of the double-incensing that goes on during a very solemn Eucharistic procession where one thurifer walks backward and incenses the monstrance and then switches-off with the other guy. This is very dance-like in that it is carried out following a pulse (not really a “beat”) and has a symmetry of motion.

    Yes. I believe that there are plenty of instances (more so in the EF) where there is a very identifiable form of liturgical “dance”. Also, if you’ve ever watched altar boys practicing for Mass you can see that it is all very much choreographed; dance, indeed.

    What I think people really mean by “liturgical dance” is some of the crazy YouTube videos I’ve seen where women dressed as scantily-clad nuns and men-in-tights swoop around with affected gestures in the sanctuary. If that’s what we mean by liturgical dance, then, there’s no way it can be legitimate or acceptable because it is not envisaged by the rubrics (or tradition, for that matter).

  49. Choirmaster says:

    Oooh, I just thought of something regarding movements during processions as “dance”. What if such movements indicate more of a “parade” than a procession? I think that it’s possible that our processions should not take the form of a parade, but I would need someone with more knowledge than me to answer that.

  50. MikeM says:

    “Liturgical” dance, in the United States, is just a sideshow. It’s not something that’s rooted in our culture. It doesn’t add any meaning for us. In some cultures, it might make sense, but I don’t see its purpose in ours. I suspect its an attempt by some “liturgical directors” to show how open and avant garde they are… which is not appropriate at Mass.

  51. Los Seises are at Vespers and not Mass, IIRC. Kind of a big difference, although it’s still a liturgy.

    Also, there’s a big difference between what’s allowable during a procession outside sacred precincts, and what’s allowed inside. When the Eucharist (or in David’s case, the Ark) is out and about, things are a little less formal; and when the procession is simply a matter of sacramentals rather than the Real Presence, things can be a little less formal still.

    But David didn’t go touching the Ark, even so; and there need to be clear lines between behavior for inside and outside church, and inside and outside Mass. If people would just go out in the parking lot to prance around with incense and wave rhythmic gymnastics banners, and then stop and be decorous once they got to the church porch, I don’t think Cardinal Arinze would be too worried about it (other than to be sorry for bad dance abilities, or unhappy about immodest costuming).

  52. moconnor says:

    BTW there is a similar tradition in Valencia at the Octave of Corpus. I witnessed the modern version of this. The boys came into the sanctuary and did their “dance”, which is quite Renaissance and dignified in style. It was uniform and they wore their livery and hats the whole time. They joined the procession out of the church and did some more ritual movements during that time.

  53. @ Annie

    Don’t forget the very young ladies of a certain age wobbling and wiggling away (or do I mean flaunting?) in lycra and chiffon! That’s just as cringey and so dodgy, IMO. I mean, custody of the eyes? It’s so awful you want to HIDE!

    Well, being a good wholesome Catholic boy I naturally wouldn’t look.
    waiting for the thunderbolt…

  54. Brad says:

    Luvadoxi: It always strikes me that whatever hippy a/v pablum I have just witnessed hangs onto some value by a thread until (if) applause, within Mass or immediately following dismissal, breaks out. Then whatever scant value the pablum had collapses in creatures idolizing themselves or one another. The tension could not hold and the pride of the creatures had to erupt. “We have our reward.”

    bmccoy: the somber mood at the foot of the cross:

    http://artmight.com/albums/classic-j/James-Jacques-Joseph-Tissot-1836-1902/Tissot-What-Our-Saviour-Saw-from-the-Cross.jpg

    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-LTqjS7oHQGw/TbMYrgmJvVI/AAAAAAAAHmU/NTMiSz4K-Jg/s1600/Tissot-What-Our-Saviour-Saw-from-the-Cross.jpg

    This image has rocked my world for a while now.

  55. Y2Y says:

    Modern liturgical dance is a perfectly legitimate way to induce vomiting. This could be a lifesaver for someone who has just accidentally ingested poison………

  56. Faith says:

    My friend is in a Liturgical Dance Group. They always dance after the Mass, after the final blessing and it ties in with the day. For example, today is the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, so the dance would be about that. If it were on the feast of St. Augustine, the dance would reenact his life. That was a good one.

  57. Alan Aversa says:

    Did David dance in front of the Ark inside the temple or just on the way to it? I don’t think so.

  58. rakesvines says:

    Q: Is liturgical dance legitimate?
    A: It depends. If it leads one to worship better, then yes – theory.
    But worship implies solemnity. I have yet to see a solemn dance so, no – in reality.

  59. Alice says:

    Years ago when I used to read the Catholic Dictionary when bored, I discovered that one of the variants of the Roman Rite had a ritual dance for some feast or other. I think there might have been a ritual dance during the wedding ceremony in that rite too. I know there is something called a dance in the Byzantine wedding, but I don’t think it would resemble the silly stuff we normally call “liturgical dance” in the slightest.

  60. Gail F says:

    I’ve seen the video of the dance done in Seville. I used to belong to a Renaissance dance troupe. If anyone whose country has a history of that sort of dance at a liturgy wants me to choreograph one for them, I volunteer. But for most of the West? No. We have no such tradition. For most of us, dance is a enjoyed as a performance or done for fun at parties. Liturgical dance has a place in a country that uses dance in ceremonies and solemn occasions — probably for the procession and recession, I would think. That is appropriate. But we do not need people wafting about, emoting and expressing themselves during mass. EVEN IF (as we do in our parish) it is confined to sort of mincing up the aisle and swinging banners and calling it “liturgical movement.”

  61. Nathan says:

    I’m amused that the quote from 2 Samuel 6 is used to justify liturgical dancing, especially since there’s no significant mention of it ever taking a hold in the sacrificial liturgy of ancient Israel or the early Christian Church. Could this be the case of Holy Scripture taken out of context?

    By similar logic, it seems clear that liturgical livestock judging is also divinely commanded in the Passover (which is a more direct prefiguring of the Mass than was David’s dancing). Exodus 12: 1-5: [1] And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: [2] This month shall be to you the beginning of months: it shall be the first in the months of the year. [3] Speak ye to the whole assembly of the children of Israel, and say to them: On the tenth day of this month let every man take a lamb by their families and houses. [4] But if the number be less than may suffice to eat the lamb, he shall take unto him his neighbour that joineth to his house, according to the number of souls which may be enough to eat the lamb. [5] And it shall be a lamb without blemish, a male, of one year: according to which rite also you shall take a kid.

    This clearly shows that selecting the lamb without blemish for the Passover is an intregal part of the ritual, which is, of course, livestock judging. Why, then, shouldn’t we do it at Mass?

    In Christ,

  62. Gabriel Austin says:

    Such liturgical dances as I have seen were videos at the Taj Mahoney. They reminded me of the “oriental” dances in movies about sultans and such. Except the movie dances were by professional dancers.

    On the other hand, it is recorded that when St. Teresa got permission for the installation of the altar stone for one of her new convents, the precession was led by her “dancing in the Spanish manner”.

  63. Supertradmum says:

    Oh my goodness, images of Bollywood in the Los Angeles Cathedral–lol

  64. Samthe44 says:

    I personally cannot stand liturgical dance. I find it awful. Dance is too individualistic. The only time my parish had it, it was at the 5:15 p.m. Christmas Eve Mass. When I read the bulletin that it was going to happen, I left, and went to Midnight Mass at the local Jesuit parish.

  65. Norah says:

    “I know there is something called a dance in the Byzantine wedding”

    My daughter was married in a Greek Orthodox church and as part of the ceremony the bridal party, led by the priest walked, around a table, a reference to the Old Testament accompanied the description in the booklet. The wedding was not part of a Liturgia (Mass). Alice I think this might be what you are referring to.

  66. AnAmericanMother says:

    Nathan,

    Good one! LOL here.

    Coincidentally, my mom and I were just discussing this today as we drove back from her (successful) cataract surgery. I’m a sometime dancer, with a college minor/certificate in contemporary, former competitive Highland dancer, and now doing Scottish Country Dance. But my mom is what I call a “real” dancer — studied with Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Merce Cunningham — co-director and founder of two professional companies — former professor in a local university — choreographer for opera company — officially retired but still choreographing locally at age 85.

    She agrees with me that she has never . . . that is never, seen a “liturgical dancer” who was any good. Period. End of story. Her words: “They don’t even know how to move.”

    Liturgical dancers are wannabes who can’t get a gig anywhere else. They are imposing low-quality stuff on priests and parish councils that don’t know any better.

    Even assuming this was liturgically permissible in the West (and I agree it’s not for all the cultural reasons) why would anyone want to offer third- or fourth- rate work to the Lord?

  67. Michael J. says:

    This is now where we are at, “Is Liturgical Dance permitted or appropriate in Mass”? How have things gotten to this point? We must virtually beg for the Extraordinary Form of Mass, but Polka Mass, Basketball Mass, Clown Mass, and now I guess, Liturgical Dance Mass, all can be appropriate? Don’t they at least need a Motu Proprio? Why are we so lacking of common sense ? Why can’t everyone in the world follow one set of Rubrics? What is the benefit of inculturation of the Liturgy? I know we are all born when we are meant to be, but sometimes I think I was born too late. How nice it would be to just be able to drive to your closest local parish and the Mass Celebrated there is the same as the Mass Celebrated down the street at the other Catholic Church.

  68. THREEHEARTS says:

    Please stop the textproofing when it comes to David’s dancing. He danced naked. God rewarded the women that watched. He dried up their wombs. Removing their part in His Creative act. Concupiscence really shows its ugly head when most women dance today. Look at the dancers at the famed potato head mass??? of Remi di Roo in California what kind of fools were the men dancing??