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Dancing for God or the Devil: Pentecostal Discourse on Popular Dance in Kinshasa

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

This article studies the dance poetics and politics of Christians in contemporary Kinshasa. For Kinois (inhabitants of Kinshasa), dance is one of the most important technologies to get in touch with an invisible Other, the divine or the occult. In sermons, and other modes of instruction, spiritual leaders inform their followers about the morality of songs and dances. These discourses reflect pentecostal thought, and trace back the purity of specific body movements to the choreography's source of inspiration. As the specific movements of so-called sacred dances borrow from a wide array of cultural worlds, ranging from traditional ritual dances and popular urban dance to biblical tales, the religious leaders state that not just the body movements, but also the space where people dance and the accompanying songs, define the Christian or pagan identity of the dancer. Therefore, both the reflections upon dance movements and the dance events within these churches will be discussed as moments in the construction of a Christian community.


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