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We move ever closer to God, one dance at a time

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Using our bodies to express beauty makes us more human
by Colleen Roy


Photo Caption: Colleen Roy says dancing lessons remind her of her humility, but also encourage her to improve herself both in dance and in spirit. “When I come home and practise the few steps I can remember ... I feel beautiful,” she writes. (designpics.com)

There is something special when my daughter dances. Madalen has attended the Fraser Valley Academy of Dance in Mission since she was 5. I’m sure her teacher has her hands full with that class of eight-year-olds. With all the time Madalen spends trying to hug her teacher I’m not sure how she learns anything, but still, there is something special when she dances.

We’ll be at home with music playing, something classical, or it could be her brothers on the piano and violin. Suddenly, she’ll appear with pointed toes and arms gracefully outstretched, and she moves with beauty around the room. Her daddy loves to watch her, and tell her how beautiful she is.

The dance school is unusual for our times. In my experience, I have never seen young girls sexualized or degraded there. The owner, his wife, and their instructors have respect for their students and high expectations.

Until I found this school I honestly believed that I would never be able to put my daughter in dance classes because of what I’ve witnessed young girls wearing and doing on stage.

A few weeks back I wrote about humans being created on the sixth day with the beasts, but for the seventh day to be with God. I wrote how every act of beauty and depth makes us more human, and more like God.

When Madalen dances, she becomes more human, that is, more beautiful in a transcendental way. And the very fact that she desires to dance is a proof of God’s existence. We are seeking in some way to be more than we are, as we reach to express ourselves, perfect ourselves and add beauty to the world.

So, as an act of utter self-mortification, I signed up last year for the school’s adult beginner ballet class. I’m not sure what I expected. Perhaps I thought that it would mostly be a stretching class, but we’d point our toes while doing it. Or maybe I foolishly thought that I’d break out of my clumsiness and be transformed into a swan.

The reality of my weak and broken humanity was realized and displayed pretty quickly. The first class left my legs shaking so badly I could barely drive home. For the most part, it was utterly humiliating. I ached for a week. But I loved it.

We’re blessed to have the school’s founder as our instructor, so while he’s merciful to us, he certainly doesn’t pander to any instinctive laziness. “Posture!” he calls out. He doesn’t say any names, but it’s me he’s speaking to. Multiple times he’s tried to stop me from leaning too far back. “Point your toes!” he calls again – to me.

When I fall pathetically sideways while attempting to pirouette, like a top that’s reached the table edge, I groan and mutter, “Shoot!” He catches it every time, looks at me with humour in his eyes, and with his British accent says, “Swear in French, please.”

I still don’t know how to follow the verbal commands. I rely almost completely on watching and copying him. Mr. Carney has been a dancer for almost 50 years, and his feet show it.

As I said before about becoming “more human,” his feet are “more foot.” They are feet made for the seventh day. They can’t help but move and step more beautifully than the average foot. So here I am, suffering at the bar, humiliated at my lopsided “croise devant,” and still just staring at his feet.

The point is, when I come home and practise the few steps I can remember, or when my daughter comes and takes my hand to join her in some improvised ballet, I feel beautiful. My husband tells us that we’re beautiful.

So, we persevere, we follow our instructions, and, as in our lives of faith, we risk the gift of forced humility. In return, we are blessed with becoming something that looks a little bit more like the people God made us to be. We become people for the seventh day; more beautiful, and more like him who gave us the feet to dance with.

Let them praise His name with dancing, (Ps. 149).



 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 19 May 2017 10:13  

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