At the end of the year, the company put on a large production in The River Center Ballroom in downtown Baton Rouge. I suspect they do this every year. I just returned from this production. The various ages performed the pieces they’ve been working on, rotating one group after another on stage to display their work. I had not been to this kind of event since I was a young boy, since one of my older sisters participated in this kind of thing. And I don’t do much thinking about the philosophy or sociology of dance. But it was only a few acts in when an older group of girls came on stage and performed what was one of the most atrocious performances I’ve witnessed. I blushed. I cringed. I wondered if adults were really in support of this kind of thing. No, it was not technically poor, as if their ability to dance was subpar. It was poor ethically, biblically, perhaps even legally. At best it was vulgar and obscene. At best, it was perverted and unholy. I had to wait around until it was time for Emery’s class to perform their Green Eggs and Ham piece, which I enjoyed and saw no concern with. But what I saw in that first unnerving performance quickly became a trend, a theme of the entire production.
As I watched performance after performance, and because I don’t analyze dance performances often, I wanted to quickly gain some kind of understanding of what was going on. I wanted some categories by which I could better assess my concerns. I quickly compiled a series of questions I could ask about each group. I came up with a few parts of each performance to consider:
- Compilation (music danced to)
- Choreography (how they danced)
- Costume (what the dancers wore)
Performance after performance, I would organize my thoughts into these three categories. All three of these categories, when taken together, boil down to one word: story. What kind of story did the performance tell? Who were the characters, even the singer in the compilation? What was the plot? The setting? The themes? Each dance told a story; the story was what I ultimately wanted to determine. In more than half of the performances of the day, all of which were young ladies over the age of eleven or twelve, the themes in all three of these categories, the story told by every dance, were the same: eroticism, romanticism, or feminism. For anyone who has had their eyes open the past thirty years in America, this is generally what our female culture has become. This should be no surprise to us. What did surprise me was how explicit it all was in the compilation, in the choreography, and in the costumes. During a few moments of some of the performances, I could see no difference between what was happening in front of me and what happens on stage at a strip club. To be sure, there are kinds of dance which are elegant and feminine. There is a kind of dance which is beautiful and lovely. This was not it. A few questions then arose for me, questions I’m still wrestling with. Questions I ask you to join me in considering:
- What is the biblical value of teaching our daughters to dance? And what kind of dance should they learn? This is a genuine question, as I believe Jesus Christ is Lord of all. And I’m seeking a genuine answer, one that would allow Christian young ladies to continue in dance if they’d like. And I believe there is a genuine answer, one which will allow us to see the right kind of dancing glorifies God.
- Even if my daughter did not perform the same dances as the older girls, how can I justify supporting this kind of dance academy, which so clearly, publicly, and sexually exploits minors?
- How many of the young ladies on stage are professing Christians, attend local Christian schools, or come from Christian homes? And how could their parents go along with this?
- What responsibility do pastors have in holding fathers accountable for allowing their daughters to participate in this kind of dancing?
I do not write this because I suspect the myriad of non-Christians or nominal Christians in the ballroom this afternoon will suddenly come to grips with what’s happening with their daughters. I do write this, however, for Christian parents who want to get serious about honoring God with our children, participating in things which promote virtue in our city, and even choosing to forego some things which tell the wrong story to our neighbor and ourselves. We ultimately want the souls of our daughters to dance, so what does this mean about the dancing their bodies do?
I will be in prayer in the coming months about these questions, hoping my family and I can find a good path forward for our daughters in this city. If you have thoughts on the above questions, I look forward to reading them below in the comments.