When You are Juggling Choreography Assignments

What do you do when you are asked to choreograph but feel your plate is already full?

Is it okay to reuse choreography from a dance?

How do you take a solo dance and turn it into a group dance?

This year, while I have been far more silent on my blog than I would like, I’ve had the joy of being very active in choreographing and dancing, in teaching live classes,  leading an online study group, and choreographing for another church.

If I someone had presented me with all the assignments at once and asked me if I could take them on this year, I likely would have declined a couple of them.

However, with each opportunity that came my way, I felt the inner “yes” and went ahead, and for each assignment, I have been given what I need to complete it. More than that, I have experienced a synergy between the assignments that has been a joy and a delight.

So, I want to share my stories with you so and give you some tips that will enable you to, under the Lord’s leading, complete more than you think is possible. I also hope it will help you see how the Lord is constantly at work, weaving together the details of our lives into His larger tapestry.

I’ve been teaching a beginner modern dance class to teens this year. I absolutely love it. I was scared to teach it, because previously, I had not taught a technique class. I’d taught expressive movement and worship and left the technique to others. (By the way, Lynn Hayden’s Modern Dance I and Modern Dance II DVDs have been an indispensable tool in improving my own technique and also developing a structure for my class.)

The Lord really gave me the dance we ended up sharing at our winter performance with very little extra effort on my part. The choreography process was unlike all my other choreography processes. I had several assignments for my Dancing for Him Level 3 school that involved choreographing two counts of eight of music. I had fun teaching these to my students. Then I simply strung them together, and it became this dance. I didn’t even initially choreograph it for this song. I choreographed the counts and they ended up fitting really nicely with this song.

I look at the dance and marvel that He made it so easy, and I think the dance was beautiful and thoroughly worshipful. Girls with no previous dance experience and those with many  years of experience loved dancing it. Their parents were deeply blessed, as was our community and the nursing home where we shared it.

But for our spring offering, I had nothing for the first half of the semester. We played with one song, but I simply did not have a leading. Until Palm Sunday.

On Palm Sunday, I ministered a solo dance to our congregation and a sister congregation. The choreography process was actually arduous for me, filled with uncertainty and struggle. I had to keep going back to the Lord and asking, “Am I supposed to do this? What do I do next?” But in the end, He gave me a dance that ministered. When I finished it, I knew that I had my dance for my modern dance students. I could see how this solo could be bigger, more moving, and more powerful with a group. So, we are working that our right now. I look forward to sharing it with you.  Here is the solo.

For now, though, I want to share a few tips on turning a solo into a group dance:

For the introduction: Use floor patterns of movement. Where the solo dancer may just dance down the aisles, see the group coming in from different corners and moving in a circle.

For the body: Use cannon in movement. Where the solo dancer might walk for eight counts, have one dancer begin the sequence, and a couple more dancers enter every two counts.

At key moments in the dance: Don’t underestimate the power of unison movement. When your movements are simple, having everyone do the same thing at once for a sequence is very powerful.

For expressive movements: Try group shapes instead of gesturing a movement individually. Consider how the dancers as a group can embody that movement. (There is a part in the dance above when I go back to gesture to the cross. In the group dance, two dancers will form a cross with their bodies. The others will dance facing that cross.)

Turning a solo dance into a group dance is a delightful challenge. Where the dancer may be able to execute more complex choreography herself, the group together, each doing simple movements, create a sequence that is even more visually interesting.

A fantastic resource to give you more ideas is Lynn Hayden’s Creative Worship DVD. You will go away with so many ideas you’ll be looking for a dance to choreograph.

I have so much more to share on this topic, how I used the chorus of the dance I choreographed for one church in my kids praise dance class, how I’ve used so much that  I learned from leading a prophetic veils study group in both my modern dance and kids praise dance classes, and how the Lord really does know how our assignments fit together.

But I’m going to close this long article here. I would love to hear from you. Please share in the comments:

Can you share an example where the synergy between your assignments allowed you to participate in more than you would have thought possible?

Do you re-use choreography? If so, how do you make sure you are still bringing something fresh from the Lord?

 

 

 

Prophetic Veils for Worship

I want to share with you my new favorite worship tool. I purchased this veil from my friend Bobbi Muncy of All for His Glory Ministries last month.

In this post, I share five things about this veil that make it my favorite, a video of a prophetic dance using this veil, and how you can purchase a custom veil, allow me to pay for shipping, and get access to a private study group I’m leading in March for free. Continue reading “Prophetic Veils for Worship”

Improving Technique: Modern Dance at home

modern dance technique trainingAre you taking any dance classes right now? If not, I encourage you to, and if you don’t feel you can, I share a super affordable resource for improving your training at home.

As worship dancer said at a workshop I attended, Get training so that your body doesn’t get in the way of what your spirit wants to say.

Jocelyn Richard, my mentor, always encourages her students invest in their training, to take live classes in the studio. This week, I took a modern dance class where I met another sister who has been mentored by Jocelyn, Jennifer Oliver. We took the picture below for Jocelyn, to let her know we were together and were investing in our training. We wanted to make her proud.

I’ve been taking another modern dance class on Saturdays for the past couple of years. You’ve probably heard me share about how challenging this class is. The other students are way above my level, enough so that I often have to talk myself into going (Read my story about this class When is it Okay to Give Up? If you need encouragement.) Even though I often feel super clumsy in class, I can see a big difference in my technique. Pastor Lynn noticed it at the last conference I attended with her. There is nothing like being in a live class where you get stretched beyond your comfort level and receive correction.

Having said that, few of us have the time or resources to take as many live classes as we would like to. We are mothers with kids at home, or we work full time, or we are busy with our own dance ministries. And live classes are expensive. They’re worth it, but you still have to have the money in the bank to write the check. So, most of us don’t take as many classes as we’d like.

So, today, I want to share with you three free video tutorials and a DVD that you can use at home.
Continue reading “Improving Technique: Modern Dance at home”

Why Use Flags or Banners in Worship?

worship flags scriptureWhat is the point of using flags or banners in worship?

Does the bible say anything about worshiping with flags?

Are flags a distraction, drawing people’s attention to the dancer when they should be worshiping?

Have you asked or been asked any of these questions? If so, read on to learn how flags were used in scripture and four important ways you can use them in spiritual warfare and ministry in worship.

In Processionals, Props and Pageantry, Pastor Lynn Hayden talks about the scriptural significance of banners. Scripture uses the words, banner, ensign, flag and standard. All of these are used in reference to warfare and, you will see, are relevant to our worship. Watch this 9-minute video to learn how.

Thanks so much for joining me today. Please join the discussion.

Why do you use flags or banners in worship?

What you have seen the Lord do when you have worshiped with flags?

Did this video raise any questions for you?

I’d love to hear from you.

Worshipful Ronde de Jambe sequence

ballet for worshipThe ronde de jambe is one of my favorite movements in dance. It is so graceful and communicates reverence and adoration. So, when given the assignment to create a tutorial from Lynn Hayden’s Ballet III DVD, I chose her ronde de jambe sequence.  You can watch this 4 minutes video below. Enjoy and feel free to borrow from for your own choreography. Continue reading “Worshipful Ronde de Jambe sequence”

Top Ten Posts for Worship Dance Leaders

I’m on sabbatical from posting to my blog*, but want to continue giving you access to valuable resources that will help you with your dance ministry. *If you would like to know why, click here.

Here are ten of my favorite blog posts from the last four years. I pray each one encourages and equips you as you dance for Him:

  1. What does the Lord think of Dance? What’s the purpose of Dance in ministry?
  2. My Seven Favorite Choreography Tips
  3. Is God Tapping you on the Shoulder
  4. What Every Worship Dancer Needs to Know about Worshiping with Flags
  5. What I wish Every Dance Team Member Knew
  6. How to Dance the Scriptures 
  7. How to Invite Your Congregation to Join the Dance
  8. Seven Benefits to Teaching Worship Dance to Children Outside the Church
  9. Why Not You?
  10. Sometimes You Have to Get Out of the Way

 

I found I could not do without this

joy becomes survivalSometimes what we do for our joy becomes necessary for our survival. That was true for me last week, on our family vacation.

Several years ago, I started using Lynn Hayden’s Stretch and Adoration DVD as part of my weekly exercise regimen. I only did it regularly because it was assigned to me as part of my course of studies; however, when the term ended, I continued to use this DVD at least once a week, because I had grown to love how it made me feel. It has been part of my exercise routine for a couple of years now, not as a “have-to” but as a “love-to, want-to, don’t-want-to-miss-it.”

Stretching tutorial
Click image for more information

But last week, it became a “need-to” and “can’t get by without it.” My family was traveling. We drove fifteen hours from Southern California, where we live, to Oregon, to visit dear friends. I love road trips for the time they provide for reflection and good conversation and for listening to pod casts and music. But spending fifteen hours in a car wreaked havoc on my body. It left me with aching back muscles and with a locked jaw that just would not release.

For the first several days, I neglected my stretching. After all, I didn’t have my regular spot or even my DVD with me. And we were waking up in the homes of friends and family, so I was anxious to get to conversations and the adventures of the day. But by our sixth day in town, after a trip to the chiropractor and
message therapist did not do enough to release my aching muscles, I realized that stretching could not be optional. It is necessary for my survival.

For the next three mornings, I played my worship musiworship exercise DVDc and followed the stretching routine that has become so familiar to me from this DVDs. As I stretched, I could feel my muscles saying, “Tha
nk you” and “It’s about time.” I could feel the tightness beginning to leave my muscles.

We were not created to be stationary. We were designed for motion. Stretching helps pull the kinks out of muscles that have been still for too long and restores muscles that have been working on overtime. It prevents injury and increases our mobility. And it feels so good.

So, if you haven’t worked stretching into your exercise routine, I encourage you to. As dancers, flexibility is crucial for our ability to dance over the long term. It enables us to improve our technique and tones our muscles. And it also provides time for reflection and prayer, a time of stillness for our souls while our bodies are both working and relaxing.

I encourage you to try one of Lynn Hayden’s stretching DVDs. If you are new to stretching, Stretch and Adoration is the best to start with. It is my favorite and ends with a time of worship and prayer. Balance and Stretch and Strength and Balance are great to follow on with. They contain more advanced stretches and also end with a delightful time of relaxation.

If you try these, let me know what you think. What may start as a “should-do” will be come a “don’t-want-to-miss-it,” and some time, like me, you may find that you cannot afford to miss it.

Here I’ve included a short tutorial teaching one of the techniques on the Stretch and Adoration DVD. Enjoy!

Using Veils to Add Emotion and Beauty in Your Dance

Veils are a beautiful addition to worship dance. They add beauty, glory, drama and effect to your dance. They help tell a story, and you can use them to communicate emotion when you dance. In this video, you’ll learn techniques for using veils in your worship dances and see several examples of dances using veils in solo dances and also in a group dance.


The teaching from this video comes from the Veils and Dance DVD by Lynn Hayden. There are even more creative ideas for using veils on this DVD as well as an entire choreographed dance for a group of three or four dancers. I took the ideas from this DVD to create an entirely new dance that ministered powerfully to our congregation. You can watch this here and also read about 4 things I learned about preparing a group dance.

The veil used in this dance was made from 1 yard of 42″ wide fabric, cut down the center to form two veils with 21″ width. Then, I simply sewed a hem around the border to prevent the fabric from fraying. Often, at JoAnne’s fabrics, I will look through the remnants for fabric to create new veils. It’s inexpensive and often there are beautiful pieces from which to choose.

I’ve also used these veils as tunics in other worship dances by simply simply sewing a hook and eye on them so they could be attached at the shoulders.

come wash me veils

 

 

Express Your Thanks through Movement

yadah for praiseI want to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving and to say thank you for allowing me to be part of your life. I pray God’s favor on your Thanksgiving, whether you are gathering with a crowd or spending the day on your own. Whatever the case, your giving of thanks will bless the Lord.

 

The word, “Yadah” in Hebrew, which is translated as to praise or to thank in our English bibles, is to hold out, to revere or worship w /extended flourishing, wave hands in showy way, graceful gestures, glorify, give thanks, cast out, use the hands in a motion of throwing, cast out, use hands in motion of throwing. (Taken from Dance, Dance, Dance! by Lynn Hayden.) The scriptures are full of calls to give yadah or thanks to God. 2 Chronicles 20:21, Psalm 107:15 and Psalm 63:1 are just three of many.

When a group raises hands in yadah thanks in unity, it reflects the Hebrew word Towdah.

So, today, as you are giving thanks, take time to lift up your hands in thanks, wave them to the Lord as a sign of your appreciation for His goodness in your life. You’ll give Him joy and, I’m pretty sure, find that you, too, are edified. That’s just the way it works with Him. You can’t out give Him.

 

Have a thankful, and Yadah-full, Thanksgiving.

Prophetic Dance: When and Where?

When and where is it appropriate to minister through prophetic dance?

prophetic dance quote

Every time we are ministering through dance, having prayed over the dance and received inspiration from the Holy Spirit about what to do and how to do it, our dance is prophetic. In addressing the question above today, however, I’ll focus on the aspect of prophetic dance in which we direct our focus to individuals, bringing a word from the Father to them. We make eye contact with these people and deliver a message through movement especially for them. To minister through prophetic dance in this way, we need permission both from the leadership and from the person.

Continue reading “Prophetic Dance: When and Where?”