When choreographing, should a dance leader look to hear team for inspiration and confirmation about choreography?
Or, does seeking the opinions of others muddy a leader’s connection with God and what He specifically wants to say through her dance?
Does God primarily reveal His Word for the dance through the anointed, appointed leader?
Or, is it important to listen to and gain ideas from a group of Spirit-filled dancers, so that we can more fully understand what God is trying to say?
At the Unlocking Movement that Speaks prophetic movement workshop this past Saturday in Pasadena, these questions simmered among us and left me with some questions for the Lord, “How do you want this done, Lord? How do you speak? How do you want me to best listen?”
I was blessed to participate in the When the Spirit Moves Dance Concert at Victory Baptist Church this past Sunday. It was an awesome evening and such an honor to be a part of. Thanks to Valerie Toliver and her team from Highest Praise Dance who organized the evening with excellence, the perfect blend of order that comes from careful planning, and freedom that comes from humbly being open to the Spirit of God. You made space for Him, and He came and blessed all who were there.
I want to share with you four ways where I saw His fingerprints on the event and to share the video of the dance we shared.
When and where is it appropriate to minister through prophetic dance?
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.
How do you hold together Spirit led, heart felt worship dance with dance technique and training?
Several worship leaders asked a version of this burning question. Their wording differed, the issue was the same.
I chose this scenario, perhaps an extreme example of the dilemma. I hope it helps.
You have a team member resists technique training. She has always danced prophetically and spontaneously. She says technique and choreography stifle the Spirit. How do you respond to her?
The biblical principle here is integrity. Separating worship from hard work and skill creates a false dichotomy. Seek to always maintain a connection between technique training and worship and ministry.
Spend time with the team sharing your heart about technique and its value in dance ministry. Emphasize that our focus, in practicing technique, is on helping each person to grow, not on attaining some level of perfection.
I Corinthians 10:31 says, “In all you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In Ecclesiastes 9:10, it says, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might.”
From these passages, we know that God wants us to do our very best in whatever we do. Technique training equips us to do this. Emphasize that it is a gift to be able to improve in technique as a dancer. It enables our body to better demonstrate what the Spirit moves us to communicate. In addition, it gives us credibility to bring God’s messages before more people, when we have honed our skill.
As it says in Proverbs 22:29 it says, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”
By using praise songs for technique practice, you will help keep the team members’ hearts worshiping even when learning technique. By teaching how different movements and steps can be used to communicate the heart of different worship words or expressions, your team will see technique as a tool to help them more faithfully embody worship. In these ways, try to win your sister over to the value of technique without confronting her straight on.
If the dancer still seemed uncomfortable with or resistant to technique and choreography, invite her out for coffee or for lunch. Listen to her heart for dance ministry and ask her about her experiences dancing prophetically, seeking to understand.
Ask her if she feels called to be on the team, understanding that part of the mission and vision God has given you involves helping the team grow in skill. Assure her that, when choreographing, that you pray and listen to the Spirit.
If you sense a true heart for worship and desire to serve, invite her to lead some spontaneous times of worship in team practice. If you sense that her prophetic calling was genuine and powerful, give her opportunities to dance spontaneously for portions of songs, asking her to prepare by listening to and praying over the music, but give her the freedom to dance her part spontaneously.
For more help, take a look at the Prophetic dance book and DVD by Lynn Hayden, of Dancing for Him, as well as her Divine Choreographybook and DVD on .
There are so many gifted and wise worship dancers who read these articles, so please, chime into the discussion. Add your input in the comments section (which is at the beginning of the post).
How do you hold together Spirit led dance and technique and choreography?
What part does each play in your ministry?
What else would you tell this leader?
Read tomorrow’s post about a worship leader who had a girl on the team who really didn’t grasp the heart of worship, affecting not just her participation in ministry, but affecting the whole team.
Is it a buzzword to make our dances sound more spiritual?
Is it only for a few who are particularly gifted?
Does a prophetic dance have to be spontaneous?
If I feel called to dance prophetically, how can I mature in this gifting?
In the Prophetic Dance DVD and book, Pastor Lynn Hayden demystifies prophetic dance and gives a multitude of suggestions for how you and your team can practice hearing from God and delivering his message, and she also gives some helpful cautions to those wanting to be a mouthpiece for God to others.
Read on to hear specifics and to watch a 4 minute video teaching I created from on prophetic dance, including a short dance I felt the Lord gave me for a specific group of people.
In her book, Prophetic Dance, and the DVD that complements it, Pastor Lynn gives clear teaching on what prophetic dance is and offers a multitude of ways a dancer or dance team can practice prophetic dance. She begins by giving a working definition of prophecy: to minister the heart of God to another. In prophecy, we call those things into existence that be not as though they were.
As dancers, we deliver the prophetic word through movement. The movements we use are not just beautiful or interesting, they carry meaning in the spiritual realm. So, as we dance under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Lord uses our movements to bring about healing, deliverance, and release of captives.
Pastor Lynn explains that prophetic dance differs even from other forms of worship dance. In prophetic dance we use music (or the spoken word) written/spoken in the first person, and our movements are directed towards the people. We make eye contact and gesture towards the people in order to deliver a message to them from the Lord.
This is different from when we dance to praise songs that are written to or about the Lord. In those songs, we are gesturing towards the Lord, speaking to Him. We hope to draw others into praise by ourselves embodying praise and worship. But in prophetic dance, the message is for the congregation or for the individual, and so we direct our focus towards them.
Pastor Lynn also debunks the common misperception that prophetic dance must be spontaneous. While often the movements are spontaneous, because we are listening to the Holy Spirit for what He wants to say in that moment and to whom, they can also be choreographed. The Lord can give a message ahead of time about what He wants to say to a congregation or individual and, as we pray and listen, give us choreography for a dance. That dance, because it is a word from the Lord to the people, is prophetic.
The book and DVD are full of activities that a dancer or dance team can use to grow in the ability to hear from God and communicate His word through dance. Pastor Lynn encourages dancers and groups to practice, to relax, to trust that He will speak. She also gives several safeguards, mindful that speaking for the Almighty God is a tremendous privilege and responsibility that we don’t take lightly.
Please share in the comments your experiences with prophetic dance.
How did you know what the Lord wanted you to say through movement?
What do you need to make an impact in dances, inspiration or knowledge of choreography? In Divine Choreography, Lynn Hayden’s answer is both. She begins by explaining that “Whatever offering you bring to the Lord (if it is presented with a humble and submissive worshiper’s heart) will be a sweet smelling savor to our Lord.” (p.11) At the same time, she points out that “if a dance is interesting and has a lot of variety, it will, more than likely hold the audience’s attention longer and thereby minister more effectively.” (p. 22). So, she first instructs the dancer to pray over a dance, listen to the song over and over, to listen to the Spirit, and to consider fasting, so that the inspiration comes from the Lord. Continue reading “Learn How to Choreograph Dances that Minister”
What does God think of dance? Does it please Him or offend Him? I read on a blog today that, “dance is a great sin and a very horrible vice because it degrades the common morality and degrades traditional Christian values.” Wow.
I’ve been dancing as worship for many years now and studying have studied what the bible says about it. I know He was pleased when David danced and displeased when Micah judged him for it. I know that Miriam, the first prophetess, danced after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, so I’m confident that dance has a place in the Lord’s heart and will. But I studied, Dance, Dance, Dance! this week, by Lynn Hayden of Dancing for Him and felt like the Lord opened my understanding about dance.
Dance, Dance, Dance! is a great resource for the dancer who wants to know more about dance and movement in the bible, who wants to go beyond the questions, “Is it okay?” to asking, “When and how should we use it? and “What difference can dance make in the Kingdom of God.”
In reading the first section of the book, what struck me was how much a part of Hebrew culture that dance is. The Israelites danced in response to victory in battle, to being restored, and to express joy. They danced to find a spouse and to celebrate a marriage. Dancing was part of life, and often was a community activity. Sometimes, but not always, it was an act of worship. In the cases of David and Miriam, the dance was an expression of praise and the dancers exulted in the presence of God. Other times, dance was more of a community activity, and sometimes it was an act of sin: The daughters of Shiloh came out dancing to attract husbands, and the Israelites danced before the golden calf. So, this says to me that the desire to dance is part of being human. When we dance in response to God’s goodness, He affirms our dance. When we dance as part of our culture, scripture acknowledges it, not necessarily affirming nor condemning it. When our dance is an act of idolatry, as when the Israelites danced around the golden calf, or lust, as when the daughter of Herodias danced before Herod (Mark 6:22), it grieves The Lord. So, what I got from that is that dance, in itself, isn’t good or bad, rather its value comes from the motivation and heart condition of the dancer.
It was the words that connote movement that moved me the most in the book. Dance, Dance, Dance! lists Hebrew and Greek words, their English translation, and then the definition of the words. I was moved to learn the power that is released when we move in the ways scriptures describes. Spinning can be an act of intercession (chul, p. 37) or can be like a battering ram against the enemy (karar, p. 65). Jumping and shaking can shake off bondage (nathar, p. 73). Waving hands or streamers can be a perfume of fire that drives out the enemy (tnuwphah, p. 91). The Lord compasses about us. He surrounds us with His mercy and protection (cabab, Psalm 32:10). Through movement we can break of chains that the enemy has placed on people (p. 129). I’m an intercessor. I think one of my primary callings is intercessory prayer. This book created many strong links for me between movement and intercession, gave me a language for intercessory movement, and increased my movement vocabulary for prayer. I have always loved using expressive sign on my dances because of the clear meaning that the movements communicate. Dance, Dance, Dance! showed me how other dance movements like spinning, walking, waving arms and leaping can be not only beautiful but full of meaning and powerful and effective to bring healing and deliverance.
If you are leading others in dance, you need this book. It will equip you to teach others what the bible says about dance and movement and will teach you to choreograph with greater meaning and power. Also, consider purchasing the Dance, Dance, Dance! DVD, for sale in my store.