Reaction against dance in the Early Church

Although I have shown that dance was practiced in the early church, there was also a movement that sought to remove it; clearly it became controversial. Clement of Alexandria wrote:

And your public assemblies I have come to hate. For there are excessive banqueting, and subtle flutes which provide lustful movements, and useless and luxurious anointing, and crowning with garlands.

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, 1:272

However, Clement also said:

So also we raise the head and lift the hands to heaven, and set the feet in motion at the closing utterance of the prayer.

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 7:7

It seems that dance in church was seen as an act of worship, but some Christians were abusing this and turning it into a sensual party in the same way that some of the believers at Corinth were turning communion into an opportunity to get drunk, which the apostle Paul roundly condemned. (1 Corinthians 11: 17-22)

In the same way Cyprian could say:

The fact that David led the dances in the presence of God is no sanction for faithful Christians to occupy seats in the public theatre. For David did not twist his limbs about in obscene movements. He did not depict in his dancing the story of Grecian lust.

Some Christians have said that the great preacher of old, John Chrysostom, spoke against dancing and they quote him thus:

Hearken, you virgins, or rather ye wives also, as many as consent to such unseemliness at other person’s weddings, leaping, and bounding, and disgracing our common nature.

John Chrysostom, Commentary on Matthew, 48

Yet again, if we take a little care to examine his work, we find that the context is not a message against dance as such, but against worldly dancing in the manner of the daughter of Herodias who requested John the Baptist’s head on a plate. Chrysostom expresses the heart of the Church Fathers in this and others such as Origen, Arnobius, Ambrose and Augustine speak in a similar vein.