This afternoon I went to a dance show entitled, "Dance Changes Everything" at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, California. It featured "upper division" dancers from a local dance company who range in ages 8 to 18, I am guessing. I don't really know. I have no children in the company. I have no grandchildren in the company. I have no cousins, co-workers' children or neighbors in the dance company. The closest I come to knowing anyone dancing with this group is a friend from long ago whose daughter happens to be a dancer. I have never met her, but I decided to go and support my friend and the arts and these young people.
At the beginning of the show, I was already a weepy mess as they played a video at the beginning of each half that featured children, mostly girls, telling about how dance had changed their lives. Most of them said it was fun, gave them more confidence, helped them reduce stress, introduced them to new friends, made them stronger physically, challenged them, gave them bruises or chronic back pain, or helped them express themselves in new and different ways. I am sure all of the above is true, but it was not really the content that moved me. Instead, I was taken by the diversity of sizes, shapes, voices, personalities, ages and more. Remember, I don't really know anyone in this show, and this happened before the dancing even started.
It was a long program and I was puzzling for the longest time trying to pick out my friend's daughter, and I finally did. At that point I relaxed a bit more and was able to focus on the program as a whole. What I noticed most was how many of the dancers were having a really good time. The music choices were great and most of the choreography was really smart and appropriate for the music and the dancers. Once in a while I was a bit uncomfortable with the cheekiness and the sexiness for the age of dancers, but not that much. I was also struck by how great it is that the arts are appealing to this many young men and women. What really choked me was thinking about their stories. I had heard them speak generically about how dance had changed their lives, but how had it really? I started to wonder if any of them struggled with eating disorders or body images? How many of them were experiencing divorces and other relationship turmoil in their homes? Any of them using drugs or around those who are using drugs? How many of them strive to be the best dancers and the best students to make up for all the ways the feel "not good enough" or "not pretty enough" or "not as smart as" all the rest?
From there, my mind drifted to a video that was not playing. "Church Changes Everything" I am not sure when I last heard a person, especially a young person, tell me that the church changed their life, spoke into their lives that gave them more confidence, helped them face the stress and limitations of everyday life or was just plain FUN! I think I used to hear that more than I do now. I seriously sat there and wondered out of the 50+ young people in that show, how many of them went to any sort of religious institution on a regular basis. 10%? 20%? More? Less? Are most people in that age range more likely to say that dance, soccer, baseball, violin, drama, cheer or ? changed their lives than church? I wonder....
I keep looking and searching and seeking and praying for the church that can be the Feature Presentation of many lives where people would go on camera and tell the world how "Church Changed My Life" because the church showed forth the light of Christ and not just changed lives, but transformed them. Until I do, I'll keep showing up and paying $20 to see other people's children dance because maybe that is where Jesus would have me be.