Dancing to the Spoken Word

worship dance poetryIs it okay to dance without music?

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.

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”

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”

Why I’m taking a Sabbatical

fear-of-laying-it-downI had a great conversation with my friend Marlita Hill several weeks back. The first thing I said to her, when I saw her that day was, “I’m feeling thwarted.”

On that sunny Thursday morning, I had left the house with grand plans: I would drop my boys off at the co-op where they take classes (I teach there on other days, but Thursday is my day off). After that, I would relish a couple of hours in reflection and post to my blog before meeting Marlita for coffee.

Instead, Continue reading “Why I’m taking a Sabbatical”

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

 

Watch this Dance of Revelation

dancing with power
Scroll down to watch this dance of revelation.

This week at our house church, a new friend shared with me the story of his falling out with God, with Christianity.

My friend serves in law enforcement. He encounters people in crisis on a daily basis. He often encounters people suffering under mental illness. It was in response to their suffering that my friend had his falling out with God.

You see, when he came into contact with these suffering people, my friend would pray for them, but he said he never saw any hope for them. And so, his faith, which had been integral to his life, became simply something he participates in for the sake of his family, and because it was part of his upbringing and culture. But, for him, it has no bearing on his day-to-day life.

I felt the weight of his story and have been praying for this friend. He entered situations for work where people were suffering greatly and the God he knew seemed irrelevant and powerless to help.

Is Christianity irrelevant and powerful? Is Christ? People want to know. I recently heard these words of an atheist, “If God is all powerful, He cannot be all loving. If He is all loving, He must not be all powerful, because there is too much suffering in the world for there to be a God who is both all powerful and all loving”

In Psalm 62:11 and 12, the Psalmist writes:

One thing God has spoken,
    two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
12     and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”

Psalm This God is the One who stepped into history and suffered with us. He suffered for us, that the power of sin and death might be broken.

The God of scripture, the Father of Jesus, is both able and willing to intervene. But sometimes He is hidden from people’s view – by the darkness in the world, by our limited faith, even by theologies that do not recognize that His power is available today.

I’ve been praying for this friend this week. This is my prayer for him, adapted from Ephesians 1:18, emphasis mine:

I pray that He would give him a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, that the eyes of his heart may be enlightened so that he may know the hope to which He has called him, the riches of His inheritance, and the very great power for us who believe.

hope riches power of GodThe LORD wants us to know His hope, riches, and power. The dictionary defines know as to “be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information” and “have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.”

People need to observe and encounter the Lord at work in order to know Him. As dancers we can help them both observe and encounter this God. We can be a living picture of His character and nature.  Of course, this needs to go beyond the sanctuary and dance floor and out into our lives and theirs, for them to truly know Him. Nonetheless we have the chance to paint a living picture and to usher in the presence of this God as we worship through movement.

I shared a dance this past weekend that reveals the character and deeds of this strong and loving God we know. The words to this song, written by a friend of mine, Douglas C. Eltzroth,  speaks about the authority, gentleness, and nearness of this God we know.

I praying it reveals some of who He is that you may know Him better.

Please take a moment to share in the comments if the words of this song spoke to you. Or, share how you have experienced the power and the love of this God yourself.

Exalt His Name Unto the Nations Praise Dance from Amy Tang on Vimeo.

 

Do you consult others when you choreograph?

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?pasadena praise dance workshop

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?”

At the heart of the discussion were really two paradigms for choreography: Continue reading “Do you consult others when you choreograph?”

Six Quotes for Ministering in the Fullness God Intends

worship dance tele seminarAfter spending a month of Saturday mornings with Marlita Hill and a fantastic group of praise dance ministers for the Dancers! Assume the Position tele-seminar, I want to share with you some of the  most meaningful quotes from the course. As we grasp the truths contained in these quotes, we will gain greater freedom and greater empowerment in our assignments to dance for Him.

1. “We dance not just for ourselves or the event that we are attending. We dance to affect far beyond those sitting in front of us, reaching even tot he parts of the Body that we cannot see.” p. 24, Dancers! Assume the Position

The Body of Christ is connected. Because we are part of that Body, what we do affects the entire Body. God is working out His plans for the world and for His Body through all its members, including us. Marlita used this analogy: If I am making soup, my whole body is actually involved: My hands are cutting onions, my feet are supporting my weight, my heart is beating so I can do the job, my eyes are watching what I’m doing. Each part doing it’s job enables the whole body to make the soup. While each part has a specific role, a critical role, they are part of a bigger picture, in this instance, making soup.

God is doing something in the Body bigger than our dance, which our dance is a part of. He has reasons for the specifics He gives which connect to what He is doing in other parts of the Body, what He is doing in the big picture. What we do needs to fit in with what He is doing in this big picture. This is why it is so important to listen for His instructions. What He wants us to do in _________ (fill in your church, your city) will fit in with what He is doing in the Body of Christ in New York, in Chicago, in Puerto Rico, in Africa. The effect of our dance ripples out to the rest of the Body.

seed cling2. “…there must be a mechanism in place to help the people stay connected to the word long enough for belief to become action and manifestation to occur.” p. 45, Dancers! Assume the Position

Marlita talked about how, in the Body of Christ, there is an enormous gap between the tremendous amount of spiritual truth we hear and the fruit it produces in our lives. As a seed that lands on the ground must cling to the soil in order to germinate, these truths need “cling” to our hearts and minds in order to germinate and produce their intended result: forming us into the image of Christ.

We dancers are a strategic part the mechanism Marlita talks about in the body of Christ to people “cling” to the Word they hear from the pulpit so that it has a chance to take root in their lives. Through our dance, we give people a visual picture of that Word, using Spirit-led songs, that helps the message to stay with the people of God long enough for those truths to take root and produce fruit in their lives.

prophetic movement.jpg3. “Movement is part of the way He speaks. The imagery and dramatization created by physical movement are critical and essential to the way He communicates.” p. 59, Dancers! Assume the Position

We looked at the prophets and saw how God told them specifically how to move in order to communicate His message. For example, He told Ezekiel to lie on his left side for a certain number of days. In doing so, Ezekiel was bearing the iniquity of the people of Israel (Ezekiel 4:4). These movements were critical to the message. As the prophet moved, the Word of God went forth. So, as the Spirit directs us specifically about the movements we use, it is critical we listen and obey. Those movements become His word to groups and individuals, accomplishing in their lives what He intends.

4. “I don’t have to create this (ministry, assignment). I just have to create room in my life to listen.” – Marlita Hill, quote from the seminar.

If God has something to say through our dance and He already knows how He wants to stay it, our job is not to come up with choreography or to muster enough creativity to put on a powerful ministry piece. Our job is to listen to Him. The most challenging and important job we have to do is to make space to hear Him.

5. “Lord, show me who I could delegate some of these tasks to so that I can stay in communion with you about this assignment.” – Marlita Hill, quote from the seminar.

This is a prayer for the times when we’re struggling to see the bigger picture of our assignment because we are absorbed in the administrative, logistical and spiritual aspects of our ministry. The Lord, through Jethro, said to Moses,  “The thing that you do is not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself.” (Exodus 18:17, 18). He then instructed Moses to choose from among the people noble and god-fearing men to serve under him to help settle disputes. So also, the Lord can advise us how to share the practical load of ministry so that we maintain our ever so critical ability to hear from Him.

6. “If you desire to assume the position of true ministry in dance, then regular communion and consultation with God must be a can’t-function-without-it part of your life…..The position we must assume is of one who continually pursues the presence and voice of God and dances out of what we have seen and heard in His presence.” p. 101, Dancers! Assume the Position

This one speaks for itself.

Did any of these quotes speak to you? Please respond in the comments. Which one spoke to you and how can that help you in your ministry? Join the discussion. I’d love to hear from you.

I want to dance like her!

pasadena prophetic movement classI love watching dance. I am enamored by its beauty and captivated when God speaks through a dancer who belongs to Him. There are so many dancers whom I admire, whose ministry has blessed me, and whose talent I appreciate. There  have been three dancers, though, who, when I saw them dance, I whispered the prayer, “Lord, I want to dance like her.”

There was something about the way they danced that spoke deep in my heart and called to me. Mixed with a talent they had honed was an expressiveness to their movement, an ability to tell a story with their movements that drew me in and made me want to understand and remember the story or the heart of their message. Continue reading “I want to dance like her!”

Position your dance for greater impact in 2016

prophetic dance studySometimes you read a book and find it inspiring, but as soon as you finish it, you move on, doing life just as you did before you read it. You know there is truth in the book, but somehow those truths don’t work their way into your life. They don’t translate into action for you personally.

 

And then there are those books that change you. They are the ones you go back to and read more than once. They are the books that you share with your friends. They are the books that shape you and from which you can trace changes you made in your life that set you on a course for the better.

 

What makes the difference between the two books?

 

I think there are two things:

 

First, of course, is the quality of the message. Did the author have something to say that, when applied, has the potential to change your thinking and, beyond that, your life?

 

Second, you have to spend enough time to ingest what a book says. You need to reflect on how it relates to your life and your calling. You need to chew on what you read, talk about it, maybe write about it, and out of that, make decisions on how you will apply those revelations, how you will act on them.

worship dance tele seminar

Dancers! Assume the Position is a books with a message that can transform your thinking and your approach to dance ministry. I am finding that to be true for myself, and I’ve heard others say the same.

 

Here’s what a couple of others have written about it:

 

This book is more than thought-provoking. It has unbound my creativity and moved me to another level, while reinforcing what I knew about my purpose in dance. I will now use this book as required reading in my dance ministry workshops and teachings. – Loretta Green

 

As soon as I started  to read this book I didn’t want to put it down. It answered so many questions I was thinking. I had been praying for more direction and God led me to this book!….It’s a book you want to read over and over again. Annabel Taylor

 

We have the amazing opportunity to study this book with the author. We have the chance to digest it, to ask questions of the author as we read, to ask questions of ourselves, to apply it to our own situation and calling, and ultimately, we have the chance to let God reshape us, redirect us, and set our course for 2016 and beyond.

 

I invite you to join me as I host Marlita Hill as she teaches from this book, beginning next Saturday, January 30. This will be a four part class, the first class of which is free.

 

In this class, you will:

 

•Construct a clear picture of the dancer’s ministry

•Identify how ministry is worked through dance

•Learn to collaborate with God in the various areas of your ministry, including songs choices, choreography, and ministry opportunities

•Clearly trace what the dancer contributes to God, the individual, the congregation, and the body of Christ

•Identify the mindset necessary for effective ministry

•Draw a clear distinction between the activity of dance and ministering through dance, so that God can minister through you, unhindered, and in the fullness of His power.

Ultimately, you will fortify your assignment for 2016 with the support and encouragement of a seasoned teacher and fellow dancers.

So, I hope you will join me. You don’t need a plane ticket. You don’t need to reserve a hotel, rent a car, or leave your family for the weekend. You simply need to dial in (or connect in through the internet) for 2 hours on Saturday, January 30 (and the next 3 Saturdays, if you take the full course)

I’m excited to be able to offer this to you and hope you will take advantage of it.

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