Moving rhythmically to music is something that comes easily to some but seems impossible to others. In common with the ability to paint, sing or play a musical instrument, it’s something most people would like to do better. From the earliest age, we are all encouraged to express ourselves through words, drawings and actions. Not everyone is a Wordsworth or a Michelangelo but we are all principal actors in the drama of our lives. You could say that we are also principal dancers in the ballet of life. We dance to melodies only we can hear so sometimes our movements seem strange to others who do not hear those tunes or feel those rhythms.
- ‘Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance’ – Carl Sandburg
- ‘We can't always choose the music life plays for us but we can choose how to dance to it’ – Unknown
- ‘You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you’ – Joseph Joubert
- ‘Dance connects us to the musicality of life and to one another’ – Nazanin Boniadi
The aspiring ballerina or ballerino has punishing exercise and diet regimes even from childhood. Basic ‘open’ and ‘closed’ positions must be learnt in the dance studio before undertaking ‘en pointe’ positions, the more advanced ‘arabesque’ let alone the ‘grand jete’. The great demands on dancers often result in poor mental health, eating disorders and physical injury being commonplace in this profession. Tragedy can accompany this as seen in examples like Joseph Duell whose suicide shocked the world and Anna Pavlova who refused life-saving surgery saying, "If I can't dance, then I'd rather be dead". Perhaps it is ironic that so many operas and ballets have sad stories – Madame Butterfly, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet are all tragedies.
- ‘Every single soul is a poem’ – Michael Franti
- ‘Dance is the hidden language of the soul’ –Martha Graham
- ‘Certainly the life of a dancer is very difficult. The training is very hard and relentlessly gruelling’ – Bebe Neuwirth
- ‘Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain’ – Vivian Greene
In your dance, what music are you hearing? Are the movements you are making in time with the music? If people don’t understand your dance, are there people you can talk to about any inner struggles? A person’s dance doesn’t have to be defined by tragedy. Aged 13 in 1939, Dame Gillian Lynne (nee Pyrke) had the trauma of her mother being killed with three friends in a car crash. This could have ruined Gillian’s life, but she went on to become a world famous ballerina and choreographer. Her autobiography reveals how she sought to be one with music but also the incredible diligence in ‘pointe work’ and exercises, sometimes doing over 8 hours per day. It was her life.
If we want to be one with the Lord’s ‘music’ for our lives, we too need to give 100%. Thankfully, for us it is about the rhythm of grace rather than a set of mechanical rules. Yet we will move more easily with that rhythm as we follow Christ Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, loving God with all our hearts and our neighbours as ourselves. So no rules but perhaps the best ways to move to the music are shown in the beatitudes given in Matthew 5:3-10:
- Recognition of need – blessed are the poor in spirit
- Sorrow for self-sufficiency – we are comforted
- Surrendering control – we are humble and meek
- Desiring God’s beautiful ways – we are satisfied
- Living the merciful life – we are shown mercy
- Seeking purity – grime no longer blocks our sight and we can see God
- Loving others – as God’s children we share his peace
- Dancing in trials – enduring injustice we seek first God’s Kingdom
Knowing first and then living out the Beatitudes can lead to true beauty in your life as you move to that inner music and in your interactions with others. Life lived beautifully brings glory to the Author of all things who both hears the inward and sees the outward. It is not too late to start moving beautifully – you’ll enjoy it all the more.
‘Dance, then, wherever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance, said he, and I'll lead you all, wherever you may be’
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