Dance Like No One’s Watching

OK, it’s time for a happier post on here.
Start by watching this video. Trust me, the rest of this post won’t make sense without it. It’s got over 40 million views.
Matt is a guy (from Seattle, actually) who only knows one dance. It’s a dorky dance. But, not caring what other people thought, he first did it in front of a camera in Asia. He put it up on YouTube, and before long his video was so popular that Stride Gum sponsored him to do it again–to travel the world and dance. 
What I like about this video is that it’s a guy doing his dance–his dorky dance, the only dance he knows–wherever he goes, no matter who’s watching, no matter if anybody’s doing it with him. He starts out doing it alone. He dances in marketplaces where everyone’s looking at him funny and on empty beaches full of crabs. He dances in the rain, on a sand dune, on cliff ledges. But he doesn’t stop dancing. 
People are attracted to that courageous spirit–the choice to “dance like no one’s watching.” In the video, people flock to him. And then they start to imitate him. The single dancer is joined by a handful, then by a crowd, then by an entire flash mob. Every person gives it their own spin–Polish teenagers doing disco, kids from the Solomon Islands jumping around–but the original dancer’s dauntless drive, his cheerfulness and confidence, is contagious all around the world. 

I don’t know what it is you do to bless the world around you. It might be the thing you do for a living; it might not. It might just be your unique personality, your attitude. Whether you fix computers, write books, balance accounts, listen to hurting friends, jump rope with kids, or just face your day with a smile, keep doing it. God made you as you are, so being yourself is your best gift to share with the world. Dare to do your own dance, no matter how dorky or insignificant it feels, no matter who’s watching, no matter if anyone at all is watching. That attitude is brave, and it’s contagious. You never know whose life you are touching. 


Last Friday I tried something new: ballroom dancing!
A small studio in town offers lessons during the day and an open dance floor at night. Teenagers in jeans, older men in spats, graceful Asian women in butterfly-twirling skirts toe-tapped and spun on the shiny wooden floor under the colorful shifting lights. The music alternated from Latin to pop as the quickstep, the two-step, the tango, the waltz were called. Far from the hormonal gyrating demonstrated on most dance floors, this was an art form–as structured as a fencing match, as regulated as a bicycle built for two, yet as flowing as the strains of music playing over the loudspeakers. 
 Graceful yet rigid, moving abruptly from fast-paced to legato, it was as fun to watch as to do. The best part was watching the couples who were equally matched in skill–not just executing the sequence of steps correctly, but playing it up with fun and flair. The experts ad-libbed their way through and made it look effortless. I myself have a long way to go before I attain that level of ease. For me, it was a victory to navigate a salsa spin without falling over.
File:Tango ballroom standard.png
Photo credit: Porfirio Landeros
 I discovered something interesting, though. Several experienced dancers invited me to try the cha-cha, the two-step, East Coast swing–dances I’ve never tried before. In spite of my protests, they insisted I could do it. And to my shock, they were right. 
Why? Because in the rigorous art form of pair dancing, there’s the amazing experience of being led. I thought successful dancing was about remembering all the right steps and individually keeping perfect time with the music. Not so. If your partner knows the steps and knows how to lead, you hardly need to think at all–just respond to the the subtle pressure of hands and wrists, follow the gentle pull of feet and shoulders.  
For me, that was a total image of following God.  When you’re a lone ballerina or hip-hop dancer, it’s fully up to you to remember the routine, execute all the steps perfectly. But when you’re with Someone who knows the dance better than you do, Someone strong yet filled with grace and control,  your job is just to listen to Him–to feel for His movements and just respond, just follow. It’s perichoresis: a Greek word one of my theology professors defined as the divine dance. It makes life more than just a challenging routine, a performance: it makes it a beautiful, intricate dance for two. 
I can imagine God singing the words in this lovely clip from the 2006 film Miss Potter, starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. In just 50 seconds, it’s everything I wanted to say: 
What are your thoughts? How is life with God like dancing? Are there other parts of life where the same parallel shows up?