What does the valedictorian of a prominent Orthodox Christian seminary do in her spare time? Many of her predecessors have written books that encourage more prayer, given rousing theological sermons that motivate people to action, and led whole flocks of faithful Christians into the Kingdom of God. This year, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology graduated a valedictorian that started her own Orthodox Christian dance company a few years back, not just a company with a prayer or two before performances, but a beautiful and cultural outpouring of what the Church celebrates daily in her life in Christ. Tonight’s spring concert proved once again that her efforts have not only been successful but salvific to the soul.
Many Christians would frown at such an idea as a Christian dance company. I grew up with those kind of Christians, the ones who had a laundry list of things true Christians should have nothing to do with: drinking, smoking, chewing, and the dancing that supposedly led to them all. The movie Footloose, both the original and the one recently released (I recommend seeing both for different reasons), explores this theme of dancing as the forbidden fruit of the Christian life. The teenage characters in both versions fight against an established small town, fundamentalist notion that dancing, any kind of dancing, leads to fornication and a whole host of other sins. Most of the dancing in Footloose can hardly be compared to the refined forms displayed at tonight’s concert. Still the principle of not categorically forbidding a whole realm of human cultural expression and doing all that we do, yea even dancing, as unto the Lord is both refreshing and liberating.
As liberating as the free-flowing expressions of movement at tonight’s recital. I have been a dancer all of my life, and I have seen and participated in more dance recitals than I could care to mention. But I have never witnessed a company that can pack more graceful elegance and artistic merit into a program that only lasts one hour. What makes it especially Christian is a bit harder to express in words, but those who have witnessed a Kosmos Dance Company concert know what I mean. As it says in the Akathist Hymn Glory to God for All Things “All true beauty has the power to draw the soul towards Thee, and to make it sing in ecstasy: Alleluia!” I went home tonight in this Alleluiac ecstasy and my soul cannot forget this beauty.