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Written by: Liz

Christian Dance - Primitive Man to Renaissance

Today, dancing is accepted in many churches in South Africa.
Some churches call it choir movement and drama. Other churches call it choreography and pageantry.
More and more Christian churches recognize dance as a ministry and even have companies of dancers, not only to do praise and worship dances themselves, but also to lead the congregation into praise and worship.

Dance had its beginning in the first civilization. Dance has always been a part of every culture on earth. All nations use music and dance and many believe that both are of divine origin.

Primitive Man (Pre-Noah) danced for love and worship, harvest and war.

Ancient Man (Abraham - Ezra, 1952 - 400BC)
The types of dances seen during this period were: processions, festival dances, celebration dances, wedding dances, funeral dances, dances of victory, dances for warfare and ritualistic dances.
An example can be found in the Bible in Exodus 15:21 where we can read about Miriam dance of divine order and victory for her people.

New Testament Age (Birth of Christ - Dark ages, 30AD - 500AD
In the beginning of this time period, the faithful enjoyed festive times with other believers, continually turning to Psalms and Prophets in their praise, preaching and teaching.
In the parable of the prodigal son, we see dancing was a joyous pastime of the people as described in Luke 15:25.

In later years Rome began to rise to power and impose upon the church. The Romans' dances for worship were brutal and sensual. At this time some church leaders began to ban dance as a form of praise because of the Roman influence.

Under Nero, the Christians were persecuted strongly. The Romans loved the dance just as the Greeks did, but for other puposes than worshipping God.
After the fall of the Roman Grecian culture, some church fathers expressed their longing to once again see singing and rejoicing as a means of expression unto God.

Ambrose said in 390 A.D: "Everything is right when it springs from the fear of the Lord. Let's dance as David did. Let's not be ashamed to show adoration of God."

During the 4th Century St. Basil said: "Could there be anything more blessed than to imitate on earth the ring dance of the angels, and at dawn to raise voices in prayer and by hymns and songs to glorify the rising Creator.?"

Dark Ages(550 - 1500)
During this time period, every man and woman was commanded to be a member of the State Church. This church became the controlling force commanded to belong to the State Church. This church became the controlling force of life. Most churches completely banned dancing. Only the occasional ritual dance was left. At some stage even social or folk dancing was stopped.
The barbaric condititions of life which led to the ban of dance in the church, promoted dance outside the church and elaborate court dances and masquerade balls were seen in all the courts of the land.
In the fourteenth century, England began to use some congregational dance and Spanish Kings renewed dances in their churches. Catholic priests allowed dance during the 13h00's, but it became sensual, out of order and filled with drunkenness and in 1544, was banned once again.

The Renaissance (1500 - 17h00)
During the Renaissance, court dances were formal and strictly ordered. The first Ballet school was established and dance became a tool for entertainment.
Gradually the folk dance was developed. These dances did not demand great skill and all ages joined in. The people expressed joy and sorrow through dances carried down from generation to generation.
Songs of joy, laughter and rhythm began to be heard in the church and circle dances with chorus were joyfully danced.

Dance apart from God is exercise, but done by redeemed believers it is an act of love, praise and worship.


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