Sunday, February 21, 2010

I Hope You Dance

By Dina L. Sleiman

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die . . . a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-4

This month we’ve been celebrating the power of song. In no way is song more inspirational to me than when it emerges into the embodiment of dance. Dance is often seen as a metaphor for life: for the willingness to step beyond yourself, to embrace the wonder about you, to move in harmony with the universe. Yet dance is an actual physical expression as well. As joy and celebration build within, they require an outlet. And so, our hands and feet begin to move, our bodies begin to sing and flow, releasing emotions from our hearts and culminating in dance. Even releasing the heavenlies deep within through our fingertips and toes.

Dance is a fundamental form of human expression. It can be found throughout history in nearly every culture. It can be found in the Old Testament as a form of celebration, praise, and worship. David danced before the Lord with all his might, and God was well pleased. Even Jesus spoke of his frustration with the generation around him by saying in Matthew 11, "We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge and you did not mourn.” Yet how often do we stifle this wondrous outlet?

Most churches today that incorporate contemporary choruses sing songs about dance.“Dance with me, oh lover of my soul.” "Dancers who dance upon injustice.” “We will dance on the streets that are golden.” “Dancing with my Father God in fields of grace.” The list goes on and on, but do we take it seriously, or do we stand still and sing the words, hampering our bodies from becoming living, breathing expressions of praise.

Romans 12:1 instructs, "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship." Of course this scripture has many applications, but I prefer to take it quite literally.

Dance may or may not be acceptable in your church’s culture. However, I urge you sisters, on your own, at home, in your prayer closet and throughout your life to offer up your bodies as living sacrifices of praise. Embrace and enjoy the wonder of dance. Take time to relate with God through this amazing form of expression today.

I have had the honor serving as a worship dance choreographer and director for fifteen years, and I have discovered that dance is at its core, a form of communication. It can be used in as many ways as words themselves: worship, praise, prayer, intercession, warfare, prophecy, evangelism, teaching, and yes, even fun and entertainment.

In closing, I would like to share one of my favorite dances I have ever choreographed to a song titled “I Hope You Dance.” This piece is special to me because it incorporates males and females from babies to grandmothers in a beautiful portrait of worship and joy. You can see me dancing in this piece, along with all three of my children, Christiana, Jonny and Adam, and my niece Ella. Professionals, we are not, but I hope you will draw much inspiration from the spirit of the piece.

So today please remember—I hope you dance.


  1. Wow, I have never been the first commenter, ever!

    Dina, thank you so much for sharing. What a lovely dance. The Scriptures and your words blessed me.

    I dance a lot in my family room. Fortunately my kids aren't old enough to be horrified, JK -- they dance with me sometimes. It is a gift indeed to be able to express our worship through movement. Thanks, Dina.

  2. Thanks Susanne. I'm so happy to hear you have a dancing household like mine.

    Also, I noticed at the end of the video youtube posts more video choices. The All Around Me by Flyleaf worship dance is actually my very favorite I ever choreographed. I thought about using it for this post, but this one went a lot better with the theme. Not sure if it will turn up for everyone or if it's random.

  3. Amen!

    I watched the YouTube video with my grandson, who isn't feeling well today. "I like that, Gram'ma," he said. So do I.

    Because of Christ,

  4. I love how spontaneous David's offering of dace always seemed. And how wholehearted. Amazing how he refused to let his dignity interfere with his relationship with God. Great reminder, Dina. Thanks!

  5. Oh Dina,
    That's awesome! I've never been gifted with dance, but I love to watch it. Beautiful. I was reading my on-line version of Charisma devotionals. You've got to check it out. I'd say this wasn't coincidence. :)

  6. If anyone has a hard time viewing the video, here is the original link:

  7. Sharon, that's so sweet. Thanks for sharing. The shortest lady in purple was dancing with two of her grandchildren in the video.

  8. Lisa, I agree, I love the story of David dancing. And beware to naysayers. Check out what happened to his wife Abigail who complained. Yikes!

  9. Wow, Jill. Probably not a "coincidence." I like the term "God-wink" ;)

  10. This is lovely, Dina. Thanks for sharing the video, too. I really enjoyed it! Have a happy dancing Sunday!

  11. My previous church, before we moved, had a wonderful dance ministry. I miss it so much!

    Just beautiful Dina, I was truly blessed!

  12. Hey Dina, that video is a real blessing. Which one are you? I'm guessing the one in front when you all line up and cover your eyes...?

    We don't have a ministry here although the youth group does action scenes to music for special events.

    But we do have one family who uses gossamer 'flags'. We have a small church and sometimes while the worship is going on, they dance with their flags in the empty foyer in front of the doors leading to the sanctuary. Sometimes other youth or kids will join them.

    I am so glad the verse about David dancing down the street is in the Bible. Such freedom to worship.

    Thank you so much for this post, Dina.

  13. Very good post Dina.
    You inspired a stiff Middle Eastern to dance publicly at church. If I did it, I'm guessing that any lady can dance for the Lord publicly or in private... It is liberating.
    Keep twirling and jumping, you look (you) when you do it :)
    Love you.

  14. Hi Anita,

    Actually, I'm at the back of the peek-a-boo line. I was the first dancer to enter with children from the left. The kids are my son Adam and my neice Ella.

    Later, my daughter Christi is the older girl in pink with curly dark blonde hair (still has her braces, this video is almost two years old). Then my son Jonny is the shortest of the older boys with wavey dark hair.

    So glad to hear your church is making use of dance in ways that they can. We also do human video dramas and flags.

  15. Thanks Suzie and Dani.

    Deb, people who leave our church always miss the dance ministry too.

    Of course, dance doesn't work at all churches. I've written a lot on the subject, but I'll just say I'm so glad I've found a church with a lot of freedom in this area.

  16. Yes, and maybe I should mention that I talked Dani into partnering me for a dance about intimacy with Christ. We used three married couples. It turned out very pretty.
    I've found men think dancing is cool if they get to look strong and lift beautiful women into the air :) I can also get the younger guys to do hip hop, but I don't think that's Dani's niche.

  17. Dina, the woman at the back was my second choice. I actually picked it out as you at first but thought you had longer hair due to your profile pic.

    The whole ensemble is so graceful. Part of that are due to the outfits you're all wearing. They look comfy as well as classy. Does someone make them for you?

  18. Anita, the white part of the costume underneath is a standard worship unitard, which we order online. The lady who you mentioned in the front is my pastor's wife, and she makes all our pretty tunics for overtop.

    Each of our dancers have a white undercostume and a black one, then it's easy to switch things around.

    My church gives us a lot of freedom with style and music choice, the main thing they ask for is modesty in our costuming, and I'm happy to oblige on that small point.

    And yes, this was almost two years ago, and I had cut my hair short after a hair dye fiasco that fried it. LOL. Now I'm strictly a highlights girl.


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