In popular thought, Christianity is often figured as being opposed to dance. Conventional scholarship traces this controversy back to the Middle Ages. Historical sources, however, suggest that medieval dance was a complex and ambivalent phenomenon. During the High and Late Middle Ages, Western theologians, liturgists, and mystics not only tolerated dance; they transformed it into a dynamic component of religious thought and practice. In Ringleaders of Redemption: How Medieval Dance Became Sacred (Oxford UP, 2021), Kathryn Dickason reveals a long tradition of sacred dance in Christianity, one that the professionalization and secularization of Renaissance dance obscured, and one that the Reformation silenced and suppressed.
Your host, Ryan Shelton (@_ryanshelton) is a social historian of British and American Protestantism and a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast.