Liturgical dance

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Liturgical dance is a type of dance movement sometimes incorporated into liturgies or worship services as an expression of worship: the dancers will respond with an appropriate dance which flows out of the music and is thought to enhance the prayer or worship experience. This dance may either be spontaneous, or have been choreographed ahead of time. If it is choreographed it is generally fitted to the song's lyrics or to religious concepts.

Some liturgical dance had been common in ancient times or non-western settings, with precedents in the Hebrew religion back to accounts of dancing in the Old Testament. An example is the episode when King David danced before the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6:14), but this dancing is often cited outside of Jewish norms and Rabbinic rituals prescribed at the time.


Liturgical dance in Christian worship became more prevalent in the United States of America during the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. The practice developed as a part of liberal Christianity, and conforming the Holy Mass as a more relaxed and homecoming atmosphere. As a term, it is often controversial: while some groups disapprove of dancing in liturgy due to the lack of piety, while others perceive it as a form of physical "Christian body worship".

Present use[edit]

Liturgical dancing during Holy Mass is forbidden by Canon Law within the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. An exception is sometimes cited in Africa where dancing has traditionally been connected to worship, but still placed outside of the disciplinary rubric of Holy Mass. Therefore, its use outside of Africa is illicit is often cited to constitute a liturgical abuse.

Liturgical dance is often cited as a contending point of modernism and its innovation on the traditional rubrics of the Holy Mass or Divine Liturgy, with its proponents often cited to have alleged liberal or progressive leanings and tendencies.

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