There’s something deeply joyful and human about moving our bodies to music. So when my friend, Rod Hugen, wrote me about the first time his sister Ruth danced, I wanted to share the video and story. Ruth composed the music. Her daughter Rebekah choreographed the dance, and a kind gentleman made it possible for Ruth not just to watch and listen but to participate fully. It's a lovely expression not just of music and dance, but of hospitality, human creativity, and the joy of giving priceless gifts to one another. I have permission from Rod and Ruth share this here. The link to the video is below. Here's the story in Rod's words:
My sister Ruth has cerebral palsy. She is a fabulous musician and wrote a piece of music she calls "Dance with Me." Her daughter, Rebekah, enjoys contradance and choreographed a waltz to the music her mother wrote. A traveling dance band called Ladies at Play arranged it for dance and have been playing it as part of their repertoire in their travels.
Rebekah realized that Ladies at Play would be playing at several locales near where my sister lives; so she arranged to fly home and invited my sister to come to a dance to watch Rebekah's choreography and hear the music she had written performed live. At the dance, a gentleman came up to Ruth and asked her to waltz. Ruth explained she was not able to dance and was extremely unsteady on her feet. The gentleman said that having talked to Rebekah, he knew of her difficulties and that he would be glad to help as much or as little as she needed if she would like to try to dance to the beautiful music she had written.
Ruth, who has longed to dance all her life, finally accepted his offer and told him she would be hanging on to him for dear life. She confessed that was afraid and embarrassed that she wasn't very graceful and would probably fall if he let go. He pointed out that he was wearing a knee brace and was not graceful either but promised to help her and keep her from falling. As this video shows, he and my niece helped Ruth do something she's always longed to do, but was sure she would never do. (Ruth is wearing a black top and print skirt, and her dance partner is wearing a purple t-shirt and white shorts.)
After the dance the kind gentleman wept and told her how sad he was that someone who wrote such a beautiful waltz was embarrassed to dance to it and how glad he was that she had accepted his offer. He told her that some people can write beautiful music, others can arrange the music, others can choreograph wonderful dances to it, while others are skilled musicians who can play it on a variety of instruments, so that dancers can move in wonderful patterns and all together enjoy an evening of celebrating beautiful things.
In watching this, I was reminded of the work of Disability Concerns inviting churches to include everyone into participation in the life of the church.