I’m so excited to share with you the dance my class of modern dance students shared at our homeschool graduation celebration (there is a fun surprise in the middle, too).
With every dance, there is a story, a story of our weakness, our labor, our faith, and of God’s provision, faithfulness, and revelation. I want to share the story of this dance because the Lord taught me something that is changing me.
If you have followed me for long, you know that I often question myself, my calling, often wrestle with doubts about my fitness.
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?
While music and dance go hand in hand, using the spoken word without music can be very powerful, especially to tell a story, bring a word from the Lord, or to teach through your dance.
If you find a portion of scripture that jumps off the page to you, you don’t have to find a song about that scripture to use it to minister. You can put the spoken word to movement. Likewise, if you find a poem or quote that you think would speak powerfully to others, embodying it with movement can really bring the word to life.
In the video below, I dance to a portion of poetry from A Bride Made Ready by Wesley Scott Amos that gave me a powerful picture of Christ’s relationship with His church and with me.
Let me tell you a little about this inspired book.
I read A Bride Made Ready in two days but will meditate on it for a long time. This poetic book gave me a beautiful picture of what it means to be saved and cherished by Jesus and also to be part of what He has been doing in His Church over the millennia and will one day complete. The author presents theologically sound truths even as he touches the heart with the love story of Jesus and His Church.
I so appreciated that Amos roots his story and teaching in scripture. He holds together two vital truths: It is God who calls, justifies, and sanctifies and by His grace qualifies (Romans 8:30) us to be His and makes us beautiful. At the same time, we have a part in becoming ready for what He has called us to. We walk in faith, in response to His faithfulness; we work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12); we yield to His sanctification; and so we have a part in being made ready. Amos holds these two truths together in every verse of his poem.
The poem also touched my heart, as Amos tells the love story of Jesus and His bride. I was especially moved by the final chapter. In this chapter, Amos describes a scene when the Accuser points out the sin and failings of God’s people throughout history. In response to each accusation, the Lord describes how he sees each man and woman, highlighting deeds done in faith, perfected by Jesus. And these deeds touch His heart, making it swell with love. In each person, the Lord sees a foreshadowing of the great day when His perfected bride, the Church, will worship Him at the wedding feast. This made me love the Lord so much, that He would see such good in us and would make our halting obedience into a thing of great beauty and purpose.
If you would like to learn more about this book, you can find it here.
Thank you to all who prayed for the Movements of Intercession – Dancing Your Prayers workshop in Pasadena last weekend. We had a powerful time studying the scriptures, stepping into them through movement, and interceding for each other, our loved ones, and our nation.
Do you ever get a worship song just days before you need to dance to it?
Would your worship leader like you to dance more often in praise and worship than you feel your team can prepare for?
Do your team members need a chance to spread their wings and lead?
If so, you will love learning how to use what Lynn Hayden calls “planned spontaneity” to choreograph a powerful and unique dance in a very short time.
In the video that follows, I explain how I planned out a worship dance for a team of five or more dancers – planning out the props, colors, formations, and basic flow – that, with leadership from different team members, they could implement with just these simple instructions. Continue reading “Choreographing a Dance on Short Notice”