Liturgical dance

Liturgical dance is a type of dance movement sometimes incorporated into liturgies or worship services as an expression of worship: the dancers will respond with an appropriate dance which flows out of the music and is thought to enhance the prayer or worship experience. This dance may either be spontaneous, or have been choreographed ahead of time. If it is choreographed it is generally fitted to the song's lyrics or to religious concepts.

Some liturgical dance had been common in ancient times or non-western settings, with precedents in the Hebrew religion back to accounts of dancing in the Old Testament. An example is the episode when King David danced before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6:14), but this dancing is often cited outside of Jewish norms and Rabbinic rituals prescribed at the time.


So-called "liturgical" dance in Christian worship is, paradoxically, more frequently welcomed in non-liturgical denominations. Its performance has seen some growth in the United States of America since it was pioneered by Carla DeSola and her Omega Company in the 1970s, and attempts have been made to incorporate it into the Catholic Mass on the pretext of creating a more relaxed and welcoming atmosphere. Nonetheless, it is illicit in Catholic liturgies outside of the Zaire Use of the Roman Rite. While some other Christian groups disapprove of dancing in liturgy as well, due to its association with profane or secular activities, and the alleged capacity for irreverence, still others perceive it as an acceptable form of physical "Christian body worship".

Present use

Liturgical dance in Holy Mass is forbidden[1] by the Canon Law of the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches with the exception previously cited for parts of Africa where dancing has traditionally been employed in sacred contexts. But even there the dance is strictly circumscribed by rubrics and litugical law. Its use by Catholics outside the Zaire Use is illicit and constitutes a liturgical abuse.

Liturgical dance is often cited as a point of contention between supporters of orthopraxis and orthodoxy, and proponents of modernism with the latter's innovations contrary to the traditional rubrics of the Holy Mass or Divine Liturgy.

An annual meeting of Roman Catholic directors of religious education in Los Angeles often feature dancing in its liturgies and has become a flashpoint for the controversy.[2]

See also


External links

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