Original Union: What Does Dance Say?
After original solitude, Saint John Paul II talked about original union. original union is the description of the relationship between Adam and Eve in the beginning, before the fall from grace. It was marked by the twin attributes of Original Innocence and Original Nakedness.
Ballroom dance is one best images we have of this original union. If we return to our dancers at the wedding reception, the men have a yearning to give the community a “point”; however, the only point untrained male dancers often can think of is competition. They take turns going into the center of the circle and showing off. The women however have made their community a circle, because they naturally know that a community doesn’t need a point. But his does not mean that a point, or more accurately a direction, would not improve the community. This improvement is what happens when we add couples dance into the mix, especially a progressive dance such as the waltz, Viennese Waltz, Polka or Country Two Step. All of these dances progress around the dance floor in a counter-clockwise progression, meaning all of these dances are still in a circle. However, in comparison to our previous plain circle, this circle is far superior on several fronts.
First, it is naturally more inviting. The plain dance circle is also a wall that a person needs to break into, and everyone in the circle is looking in. But in the progressive dance the members of circle look in and out, and they leave space on a regular basis to enter into the circle. I describe progressive dance as a river of happy people, and like any river it has a current that will draw a person in and sweep them along.
Next, our progressive dance circle also has a mature spontaneity that the plain circle lacks. In the plain circle every person has a static place. A person rarely moves from their place, and if they do, it happens at a random time and for a random reason. But in the progressive dance the couples weave between themselves as well as among all the other couples, and so the couple is always are blessing each other as well as different neighbors as they flow around the dance floor.
Finally, it is important to note that the unit of the plain dance circle is the individual, while the progressive dance consists the unit is a family, which is the couple in the music, and the family has an inherent direction or point that an individual lacks. The point of the family is for the partners to contemplate each other in the spirit of the music. The man gives direction to the relationship; this is the desire God has put into his heart, and he acts on the desire when he leads the dance. The woman creates community; this the desire God has put into her heart, and she acts on this desire when she follows.
In all these ways we see the original union between Adam and Eve of the Garden of Eden. For this reason, when we dance, we return, even if just partially, to the Garden of Eden.
I can also see this same dynamic with many of my married friends with young families. First of all, these are people who are part of the Theology of the Body movement. This is not to say that they are experts in what St. John Paul II wrote on the Theology of the Body, but they are committed to understanding and living out what the Catholic Church teaches on the family and human sexuality. Many times such couples met as friends inside small faith community, and it’s also not uncommon for some of these communities to lead to several marriages. Thus friends are meeting, discerning marriage and getting married inside of a community with a tradition and a way of life. After the marriages the community continues on, changing from a community of individuals to a community of families.
But whether the couple was part of the community before their marriage or after, just like in the progressive dance the fundamental unit is a family- husband wife with children. I can see how the husband create a direction in the marriage while the wives complete the community. I can also see how the children from the various families come together to form a community that becomes just like the music for the ball. As I watch the children play with each other, they unite the parents, whether it’s because the parents are watching them or because the children are interacting with the parents. The parents move through the celebration in a way resembling the flow of the progressive dance, interacting with each other and blessing each other with a mature spontaneity.
These images are not as clear as in the dance, for the simple reason the dance is the distilled image of this; much of the lives of these families are veiled in a way that the dance is not. Obviously, the act of sexual intercourse between the husband and wife is physically veiled in the bedroom, and most of the family’s life is witnessed by none save the family. So I am seeing only a small percentage of this dance. Nonetheless, I cannot help but see the semblance to the dance, and also to the original union of the Garden of Eden.