Liturgical dance may or may not be a familiar term to you. It’s dance as a part of a worship service. (Gasp!)
A year ago Easter I witnessed a dance, professionally choreographed, meticulously rehearsed, and well performed. Never mind it was church. The piece made a powerful statement, had emotional impact and was beautiful to behold. In short, it was well done and worthwhile.
More recently I witnessed a dance, sincerely presented but unrehearsed, uninspired and devoid of lasting value or impact. Never mind it was church. It was poorly done and sitting through it was a waste of time.
Two years ago I had the chance to see the New York City Ballet perform at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Before that, the last dance performance I’d been at was a presentation of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by a traveling troupe of amateurs. The travelers were sincere, but nothing about the performance was memorable. Two years later, I still remember the impression of the NYC Ballet’s scene from Swan Lake.
I’m not a dance critic. I can’t tell you how the NYC Ballet’s performance stacked up against all the other professional performances that season. I’m pretty sure that side by side, the NYC Ballet’s performance was far superior to the Easter performance in church. But I can tell you that both had a point and an integrity that the other two lacked.
So it goes, not just with dance, but in any art. Sincerity is not a substitute for quality or practice, and especially not for having something worthwhile to say.
Not even in church. Especially in church.