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The Spirit Moves: Christian Trance Dance in Late Medieval Europe and Early Nineteenth-Century America

  • Jessica Van Oort
Chapter
Part of the Social Indicators Research Series book series (SINS, volume 73)

Abstract

Although Christianity has no official tradition of sacred dance, trance dance has been a powerful part of religious practice for certain Christians. Close examination of primary source documents from two periods of religious change and revival – thirteenth and fourteenth-centuries Europe and early nineteenth-century America – reveals that Christians used trance dance to experience and share their faith and to gain spiritual authority. Trance dancers were often outside the traditional structures of power: women and itinerant foreigners in medieval Europe, and women and African-Americans in antebellum America. This research addresses the meanings trance dances had for performers and observers and suggests that trancing increased participants’ senses of joy, empowerment, and community – aspects of the quality of life that modern Americans still seek through trancing in contexts as widely varied as rave culture and Pentecostal worship.

Keywords

Dance in Christianity Religious dance Trance dance Ecstatic dance Sacred performance 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica Van Oort
    • 1
  1. 1.Independent ScholarPawletUSA

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