I’m speaking of Mia Michaels’ dance to Sara Bareilles’ song “Gravity” which displays a man physically and sexually abusing a woman: throwing her on the ground, seizing her body, and even strangling her.
Now someone might say, “Wait Laura, Mia Michaels intended it to be about addiction, not abuse.” To this I would respond in the words of the great choreographer George Balanchine who said, “You put a man and woman onstage together, and it’s already a story.” While she may have intended a piece about addiction, what we saw was physical and sexual abuse.
I wasn’t disturbed so much by the dance itself (I can appreciate realism in art), but by the audience’s reaction to it. The audience erupted into applause and cheering both in the middle of the piece (at a point where sexual abuse was most strongly implied) and at the end of the piece.
Certainly the dancers did a phenomenal job and are to be commended for their discipline and artistry. But I want to contrast this to Tyce Diorio’s dance about a woman with breast cancer. This dance elicited tears from audience and judges alike because of the personal subject matter and tragedy of losing a life to breast cancer.
But isn’t the subject matter in Mia Michaels’ dance just as personal, and isn’t losing a life to abuse (or addiction) just as tragic? Why did his dance elicit tears while hers elicited applause and cheering?
What’s my point?
My point is to ask ourselves, How do we respond when we are shown images of abuse against women and men who are made in the image and likeness of God? How do we respond to art that portrays abuse? How to we respond to degrading comments or crude jokes? How do we respond when we start to suspect that a friend is in an abusive relationship?
Let’s take a moment to pray for those in abusive relationships as well as for those suffering from addictions.
I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me. Psalm 69:29