Pastor Ed Lapiz  Day by Day Ministries Cultural Redemption


The Soul of the Filipino in Dance

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After all, any movement beyond paralysis is a step in the direction of its climactic other-end: dance.

Indeed, the Christian world is divided on this interesting issue with petrification on one extreme end and electrification on the other with everyone else standing or shuttling in the many varied shades of persuasion in between. Congregational walls get over-simplistically defined by the kinds of movements or postures banned, avoided, discouraged, tolerated, desired, encouraged, advocated or imposed by their respective ecclesiastical powers.

What is dance? What is its place in the lives of Christians?  Is it of the devil or of God? Must it be destroyed with iconoclastic zeal or must it be nurtured with wise, even reverent, concern?

To clap or not to clap? To raise hands or not to raise hands? To kneel or not to kneel?

The Christian and Dance

The Redemption of Dance for Christian Worship


There are matters concerning bodily movements in Christian worship that might as well lead to the ultimate question: To dance or not to dance?

A YouTube user uploads footage from the movie King David but replaces the original soundtrack with the song, “Dance like David Danced.”

Dance in Biblical Culture. Dance has been a prominent and an integral part of biblical culture. Military victory was celebrated in dance as when Miriam the prophetess led all the women in dancing after God destroyed Pharaoh’s army under the sea or when the women of Israel met and greeted their triumphant men folk returning from battle.

The church is divided on how to praise:  with solemnity or with exuberance. Photo is of a Sunday service at the Folk Arts Theatre, home of Day by Day Ministries.

It also expressed adoration of and utmost submission to God as when David danced before the Ark of the Covenant like a slave would dance before his master. As such, dance was also a sacred expression of praise and worship to God. Also, it celebrated God’s favor and restoration.

Aside from its religious character, dance was also an expression of personal happiness. Such was the importance of dance as expression and indication of both worship and celebration that Jeremiah bemoaned the departure of the reason and ability for dancing in his troubled times. It must be noted, however, that such dancing was done either solo or by same-gender groups and was an expression of joy, thanksgiving or worship, not as entertainment nor a performance before people but “before the Lord.”

While usually depicted fully clothed and saintly, with harp -- or the head of Goliath -- in hand, David was almost naked when he danced before the ark of the covenant, raising the eyebrows of his wife.

Meanwhile, the Psalmist exalts God for turning his wailing into dancing while Solomon essays the extremes and balance of life and behavioral propriety by wisely noting that there is a time to mourn and a time to dance.

But just like any other good thing that was counterfeited by evil forces, dance has been usurped, twisted, corrupted and abused in the hands of the ungodly. It was used in pagan worship and unbridled revelry that, perhaps fearing she would be forced to dance indecently, Queen Vashti vehemently refused to appear before the king’s drunken guests. In New Testament times, the infamous performance of Herodias’ daughter before another court in another time cost John the Baptizer his all-precious head.

A Kaloob dance troupe member doing a step from one of the dances of the Lumads, a diverse group of tribes distinguished by a profound sense of spirituality.



Pastor Ed Lapiz is the founder and Artistic and Dance Director of KALOOB Philippine Music and Dance Ministry. Read more

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