Mennos: Just Dance

web_ellen_rothI have heard it since my first year at EMU. “I’m Mennonite, I can’t dance.” This being my last year here I want to finally publicly call B.S. on that phrase. Being Mennonite may have literally discouraged you from busting a move in the past: Mennos, you now have a choice and a chance.

First, let us take a look at where this stereotype even comes from. It comes from our parents’ and grandparents’ generation, where dancing would have been right next to sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The generation of today is more liberal in many ways: dress and ideologies, for example. Dance needs to be on that list, too.

In high school I played a small part of the Tornado in The Wiz. In this role I had a dance solo depicting the tornado that snatches Dorothy to Oz.

After one of my performances, an adult from my church congratulated me on a job well done and then commented, in jest, that they did not know Mennonites were allowed to dance like that. At the moment, I laughed and shrugged it off.

However, it cut really deep. It felt like they were questioning the sincerity of my faith. That a good Mennonite would not dance, which was a huge conflict for me because I love to dance.

I do not separate these two parts of myself. I am Mennonite and I like to dance; not I am Mennonite, but I like to dance. When I dance it is not some sinful alter ego. Being Mennonite actually does influence how I dance. I draw lines for myself. For example, if anyone even mentions twerking I am shaking my head. Twerking is one example of a style of dance that does not promote healthy sexuality which, for me, is a part of honoring God.

A more important side of the argument for Mennonites and dancing is dance in worship. Mennonites need to loosen up those limbs to praise God every now and again. If King David danced it should be acceptable for us as well. I am spiritually tired of just standing in church.

You might say, “but Ellen, you are a natural, whereas I’m all awkward limbs!” True, there are people with different gifts and abilities. It does not matter to me if you do not have a rhythmic bone in your body. Just give it a chance, you might have fun. And if you still do not like dancing, that is fine. But, being a Mennonite is no longer your excuse.

-Ellen Roth, Web Manager


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