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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 March Study Group – FAQs

Are you considering joining the March active study group on using prophetic veils in prayer and praise? If so, I’ve created a list of FAQs to help you discern whether this group is a fit for you. I end this blog post with a choreographed prayer that I wrote and prayed using veils. Continue reading “Prophetic Veils March Study Group – FAQs”

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”

Modern Dance for Worship

worship modern danceThe 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.

The wraps the girls are wearing were created by Minister Pamela Stovall at The Master’s Touch Creations.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Did you dance or shepherd a group who danced at Christmas? If so, to what song did you/they minister?

Do you have a favorite technique training DVD that you use? What is it?

Thanks for joining the discussion and allowing me to be part of your life.

A Dance of Lament

Psalm of lamentA dance of lament at Christmastime?

In this season when we praise God for sending His Son and marvel at the love of God expressed in Emmanuel, God with us, is there a place for lament?

This year, sorrow touched our family in the form of the unexpected and tragic death of a fifteen year old family member. Words cannot express the pain rippling through our extended family.

So, here I share my dance of lament, a way of sharing my heart with you, but also, hopefully, a way to give expression to the pain you or those you love may be feeling.

Jesus was no stranger to pain. He is described as, a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. (Isaiah 53:3)

Just one chapter after Matthew describes the birth of Jesus, he writes about the slaughter of the babies in Israel:

A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more. – Matthew 1:18 (from Jeremiah 31:15)

When words are not sufficient, dance provides a way to express our hearts to God and to make space for Him to comfort us.

As I danced, I used movements that we find in scripture. The Hebrew words in the video are the words for those movements:

Barak* – To praise by kneeling or bowing down – an implication of blessing God with humility of heart.

Shachah* – To depress: press down; to prostrate in homage or worship of God.

Nathar* – To jump, shake off, untie, to terrify. The Lord wants us to be free. Through the movement of shaking off…He will bring deliverance, a loosening or shaking off of bondage.

Chuwl* – To twist or whirl in a circular or spiral manner; to writhe in pain (as in childbirth); to bring forth….one of the only words associated with movement and intercession

*Definitions taken from the Dance, Dance, Dance! book by Lynn M. Hayden

The Lord is fully able to handle our lament and to meet us in it, bringing comfort and help.

My question for the comments section is this:

What practices have helped you, when walking through great sorrow, walk also in grace?

How have you stayed close to the Lord when circumstances look very dark?

I would love to hear from you.

 

 

Do You Let Yourself Be the Student?

Ministry leaders and dance teachers, when was the last time you let yourself be the student?

How often do you take the place of the student?

How often do you have to learn someone else’s choreography?

Team members, do you ever feel like you can’t keep up, don’t learn fast enough?

Do you ever fear disappointing your teacher/leader?

Something so valuable happens when we step into a role we don’t normally have. In this post, I share an experience from this past week when I experienced this role reversal, how it affected me, and how such a role reversal can help us be better teachers, leaders and students, if we’ll let it. Continue reading “Do You Let Yourself Be the Student?”

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.

When Worship Class turns to Chaos

Sometimes we think that because we have experience with something, it will always go smoothly for us. This is dangerous thinking.

Have you ever had your worship dance class turn to chaos?

Have you ever tried to teach a group of children who weren’t interested in what you had to share?

Have you ever wondered how experienced teachers seem to effortlessly engage children and hold their interest when it seems like a mystery to you?

Have you ever failed at something you thought you were good at?

I have all done each of those things recently. In this post, I’m going to share my experience and what I learned that is helping me move forward.

First, the background:

Because I’ve put my worship dance class lessons on paper and make them available to others, people think I’m an expert on working with children. Sometimes I start thinking this myself, which is, of course, dangerous. As it says in Proverbs 16:18, Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

Let me tell you about my fall. Continue reading “When Worship Class turns to Chaos”

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”

What should I wear to minister in dance?

What should I wear to minister in dance?
Is what is appropriate for the stage appropriate for the sanctuary?
Do I need to wear layers of skirts when I dance to be holy?
I know that my dance is to be set apart for the LORD’s purposes. What does that mean for what I am to wear?

regular clothes as worship garments
My dancers and I in 2010 in our red and black clothing, simple, beautiful street clothing

When I started dancing in worship, my answers to those questions were fairly simple: I was worshiping, so I wore clothes suitable for Sunday worship, ones that were modest, flexible enough to move in, and beautiful. I shopped in regular stores when preparing for a ministry piece, choosing skirts and pants that flowed and tops that fit the color scheme I had been led to. I always kept my eye out for street clothes that could also be dance clothes.

Praise dance choreography tips using motif
Dressed for beauty and God’s glory in this gold overlay, full white skirt, with culottes underneath.

When I connected with the praise dance community and gained training, my answers changed some. I saw and loved what my fellow worship dancers wore – flowing dresses, beautiful overlays, culottes underneath skirts for additional flow and modesty. I learned good reasons to dress this way, for modesty, for beauty, for God’s glory. I started shopping at the websites of anointed worship dancers who created garments specially for worship.

Now I am again part of a start up church for which dancing in worship is unfamiliar to most. It would feel out of place for me to arrive for worship in a long white dress and sequined overlay. To those in worship, it would look like a costume and would set me apart as a performer. So again, I have asked myself the questions above.

I dressed in street clothes to dance at the first worship service of our new church. The pictures show the small space that my dance had to fit into.

My friend, Leslie Passerino, a powerfully anointed dance minister, shared with me an article she wrote as she asked the Lord some of the same questions. The answers the Lord spoke to her spoke to some of my questions, and so I thought they might speak to some of yours. I share this with you humbly, with not intention to tell you what you must or must not wear, but perhaps to give you some freedom to ask the Lord yourself.

Here is what Leslie wrote. (French is her first language. I wish my French was as good as her English. I have left the story in her words.)

Two years ago, I started to question myself about garment….I looked after the “perfect garments” but nothing came on my heart nor through prayer nor through a revelation nor through a dream. N.O.T.H.I.N.G.

So, I doubted that my calling was to be a dance minister or a simple dancer. But the Holy Spirit confirmed me I was called. For sure the garments are to be modest even they are simple. But I desperate to find something. I tried so much, and when I say “so much” I mean it. During two years, I received a lot of opinions from France, from Montreal and from USA…. But nothing resonates in my heart. It was a nightmare. I focused so hard on it that I missed the point.

  1. Garments are important but NOT vital
  2. Garments should fit with your church, your calling and your anointing
  3. Garments should not be about ME but about HIM.

So, I realised that I was totally to much vain here. Need to repent first. So, from end of February 2017 to middle of April I almost did not dance. We had a special event where we, all the dancers, wore red and white garments.  After my time off to release my futility and my pride out off me, The Holy Spirit talked to me. He asked me five questions:

  1. How is your church? Answer: cutting edge, trendy, prophetic, caring people, anointed for emotional healing.
  2. How is your city? Answer: full of different people from all nations, a lot of activities outside, trendy, open mind, happy, colorful
  3. What kind of clothes wore Jesus during his ministry? Answer: amazing fabric, one piece, but SIMPLE… not like a king.
  4. Why? If He was dressed as a king it would be difficult to touch Him, to be near of HIM… So, with his “simple clothes” people could come closed to Him and be healed, saved, delivered.
  5. So, what does it mean to you now? Answer: I have to be just me, dance outside, talk to people, love them, pray for them, show them how HE loves them through the movement

Leslie’s answer was that, in her context and for her calling, the layers of flowing garments fit for the daughter of a king were not fitting. She was to wear simple clothing that did not draw attention to herself, distinguish her from those to whom she ministered, or attract attention.

For others, the answer will be different. The answer need not be the same for every dance.  What I love about Leslie’s story is that she did not only ask the experts. She asked the Lord, and He gave her an answer. Reading her story gives me freedom. I am grateful for what I have learned from the experts, but it does not exempt me from asking, “What do you want me to wear here, now, with these people?”

Please joint the discussion in the comments section. Feel free to respond honestly.

What do you think?
How is your church? How is your city? What does that mean for you?
What has the Lord shown you?
Do you dress differently in different contexts?
Is there any absolute from scripture that you know you must check any revelation you or others receive against?