This weekend I went to watch the local high school dance team perform. They had advertised in the local paper. We’re new in town, so I don’t exactly have a full social calendar, the ticket price was right, and I love dance in most forms, so off I went. Their performance inspired me, made me think, and convicted me as well. So, I’ll be writing a 3-part blog post this week:
Part I – Ten Things Worship Dancers can Learn from the School Dance Team.
Part II – What I Wish Every Dance Team Member Knew
Part III – What We Worship Dance Leaders Can Learn from the School Dance Team
This was one talented group of students. There were 250 kids on stage that night, performing 32 different dances. I was mesmerized by their talent and delighted by their presentation. Those students left it all on the floor. Here’s how they inspired me:
- Smile! These students smiled! They were having the time of their lives, and it was obvious. Their faces lit up the stage. They connected with the audience and made you feel their joy. We worship dancers want to bring the joy of the Lord. Our face is our most important asset to do this. When you dance, smile. Let the congregation feel your joy.
- Dance with Your Face: Not every song calls for a smile. Some of their songs showed anguish, longing, playfulness, or sass. Whatever the emotion of the song, the dancers showed it on their faces. Their expressions matches their bodies and made their dancing all the more powerful.
- Invest in Your Calling: These students danced with skill. Their kicks and leaps were high, their arches deep, their toes engaged – whether pointed or flexed, these dancers had clearly invested in their art. They were skilled and it enabled them to say fully with their body what their hearts wanted to say. For those of us dancing for the Lord, we have all the more reason to invest in our calling, in gaining skill. We do this not because the Lord only accepts the best dancers, but because we want to be the best we can be for Him.
- Invest in You Garments: I was alternatively inspired, delighted and chagrined by the costumes (more on the latter later). But regardless of how I felt about them, each one was particular to the song, looked fun to wear, and helped tell the story of the dance. Our garments, too, should help tell the story that God has put on our heart to tell through dance. We want to look our best, to dress for beauty and for glory (His, not ours.) Garments are expensive. If you feel stuck because you can’t afford garments, I encourage you to get coaching from Jocelyn Richard. She has a knack for helping ministers find income streams to provide for what God has called them to do. (If you sign up for her class because of my encouragement, tell her I referred you. That will help fund my ministry.)
- Include the Boys and Men: About a third of the dances included male dancers. Wow. When the boys joined the stage, the audience lit up. The energy, strength, and playfulness they brought was electric. The bible says that God made man in his image, Male and female He created them. (Gen. 1:27) Together, men and women reflect the glory of God. If we want our dances to more fully reflect his glory, we need men and women. This is a big challenge to me, as my choreography is so strongly feminine and I am much more comfortable teaching girls and women. So, this inspired me.
- Vary Your Choreography: They included modern dance, lyrical, ballet, hip hop, and ballroom dance. The variety kept it interesting. I couldn’t wait to see what was next. Stretch yourself. If you are most drawn to ballet, take a modern class (or purchase a modern dance DVD to study). If you always lean towards modern, experiment with hip hop.
- Use the Whole Stage/Space: Their dances filled the stage. Whether they had 30 dancers or 3 doing a dance, they used the whole stage, front, center and back, right and left. They traveled, spread out, came together. Again, it made it dynamic and exciting. For tips on how to use the stage more effectively in your choreography, see my blog post on stage positions.
- Use Different Levels in your Dance: They danced high, and then low. It was dramatic and intriguing. For more on using different levels, see my blog post, My Seven Favorite Choreography Tips.
- Use Group Shapes: Some of the most impactful moments of their dances were when they moved close and formed a shape with their collective bodies – the shape of a shelter, later a sort of eiffel tower. At those moments, the individual dancers seemed to fade as they were replaced by something larger than any one of them – a formation that told a story, inspired emotion, or just moved me by its beauty. For ideas on how to make group shapes when you dance, see the Divine Chroreography DVD.
- Keep Your Dances Short: Even these talented dancers kept each dance short. Each dance (well almost each one) left me wanting more. Then they were on to the next. Often, worship songs are long because the artist wants the congregation to have time to mediate on the lyrics, to have them soak in them. However, when you’re doing a dance presentation, it’s better to use a short song, or just use part of a long song. That enables you to make a greater impact and to hold the audiences attention while you deliver your message.
Even as I was incredibly inspired by the talent, skill, and commitment these dancers showed, I also felt more deeply convinced that I (and you), who know Jesus and dance for Him, have a message for these young girls, that they desperately need to hear. Read my blog tomorrow for the post, What I Wish Every Dance Team Member Knew.