The bible says there is a time for everything, a time to weep and … a time to dance. Last week I shared with you my dance of lament.
This week, I share with you a dance that brought me joy, even during a difficult time. I have the privilege of teaching beginner level modern dance to these young women at Ecclesia Classes. They shared this dance at our Christmas presentation last week. I hope it blesses you.
If you are looking for a good modern dance workout that you can do at home, I highly recommend the Modern Dance I and Modern Dance II DVDs by Lynn M. Hayden.
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.
Are 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.
The 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”
Sometimes 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.”
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 music 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!
Of all the praise dance classes I’ve taught children over the year, this year’s praise dance camp brought me a particular joy. This group engaged with the spiritual content with more depth of understanding than I have experienced before. Their answers reflected that they have been taught to love and worship the Lord at home and that they truly listened and received the lessons God gave me for them.
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”
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.
The LORD wants us to knowHis 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.
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 3 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.