As a Christian dancer, most people think when I dance to praise to Lord, that I do what’s labeled as praise dance, which usually incorporates beautiful flowing white or creme robes, props such as a flag, a pole, or a scarf. Although I do use props, you probably wont see me in a robe doing traditional praise dances to God. Instead I use a variety of dances to offer my gift to the Lord.
So I dance a myriad of styles and when people hear belly dance among those styles, they wonder: Is she really saved? How could she possibly dance sensually and claim she is praising God? Can a Christian dancer belly dance too?
When Miriam danced with tambourines and the women joined her (Exodus 15:20), do you think she was doing hip hop? What about ballet? Ha! Those are new dance forms compared to ancient history. They danced to rejoice at the great victory God just showed them by delivering them from Pharaoh of Egypt and his great army, drowned in the sea.
I believe the women in biblical times danced the dances that were native and indigenous to their land and people. These dances are called folk dances. Now the Israelis in Israel have folk dances today, but are these the same dances that were performed in Moses time? I’m not sure, just like the Modern Hebrew language we have today has been reconstructed in the 1950s, with much historical study, so could their dances be.
My theory is that Oriental Dance, or what America coined as belly dance, is the OLDEST DANCE from the middle eastern lands that we have. I believe it has been passed down from many generations and now shared with us. I think oriental dance is a form of folk dance that is closer to what Miriam and her female companions danced than what we see today.
In that respect, I can use Oriental Dance to praise God too. Of course, America, has altered its appeal, dress, perception, and environment, and I am very careful not to play into that ideal. I dress modestly, know the dance’s purpose, and only use it in a non lusting environment. Most true belly dance performers, are not strippers, but dance in family environments, special performances, and, at times, pull several people from the audience to dance with her.
Although I do not foresee belly dancing going to the alter of a church anytime soon, I will continue to hope the people can understand and celebrate its purity and beauty and see it as the oldest form of dance we have that connects us with the ancestors.
(image: from MEE cd cover)