Christian Dance – How to adapt Choreography to use worship flags in Christian dance

Many people ask me how you can incorporate the use of worship flags into Christian dance without just simply twirling them. The simple answer is that you consider it as part of your body! This, I recognise is easier said than done. We have the habit when we move, of moving within our own ‘box’ or ‘frame’. A predetermined space or movement set up, where we are comfy. Christian dance is about encouraging people to move out of the box and into a new way of moving that allows them to have a deeper connection with God. Just like you have to work to deepen your learning and understanding of a subject. You also have to do this for Christian dance. This means that God will have even greater space to move through you and demonstrate Jesus to others.

Group of worship dancers moving with worship flags.

What is adaptive choreography?

Dancers and movers often put themselves in one of two groups for Christian dance – worship flag dancer or non-worship flag dancer. Both of which are self-explanatory. It doesn’t mean that they don’t ever do the other group. It means that they have a group they are most comfortable with. Often moving into the other group takes courage for some dancers.

Identifying a way that you can move seamlessly between groups can help build confidence and develop your worship dance skills. Here are just a few things to encourage you as you try this.

How do you hold your flag?

Flags (or banners) essentially consist of some form of rod and a piece of material. The exact make up of these two, is dependent upon your preference. I teach using dowelling as the rod and a rectangular piece of material. These I believe offer a greater foundation for beginners.

When holding the flag, the ideal placement is thumb and index finger sandwiched around the base of the material where it is on the rod. This means that as you move the flag you can also untwist the rod if the material begins to get caught around it.

Christian dance holding flags between finger and thumb.

What initial movements can I do?

Initial movements with a flag involve circles, side ways figure of eights, ripples, throws, turns, rainbows and twists. Although with these you can travel and move them, they can be quite static in comparison to ‘dancing’ with the flag.

worship dancers mirroring movements.

So how can we move from a static place to incorporating fluidity with the worship flag in Christian dance?

Firstly, you need to remember two very important things when choosing to move with the flag:

The flag is an extension of your arm. When you choreograph the worship flag sits at the end of your arm. This means that one arm is longer than the other, but that doesn’t mean your usual movements are inhibited.

Golden worship flag

Moving with a flag brings Gods power. Moving with a worship flag/ banner should not be done lightly. It’s an act of bringing Gods power down to earth in an almighty and visual way. Therefore know why you choose to use a flag and know that you are declaring Gods power in the process.

Secondly, choreographing without a worship flag first makes adapting with a flag easier.

In the video below I first choreographed, movements using my body alone. I went over and over these movements until I knew them well. Once that was done, and only then, I picked up a worship flag to use within the already choreographed moves. Some of the movements naturally transposed to using the flag with them, others needed adapting slightly.

Good to note…

There are many ways to develop movement using the worship flag in Christian dance. But this is a way I would encourage for those that are not used to choreographing with flags. It allows dancers to see a difference between moving with and without. Plus the effect some changes can make in order to use the worship flag effectively.

In addition, the more comfortable you get with moving with a worship flag, the more spontaneous your movements become. Creating the fluidity you might see in others who are more experienced using them.

I’d love to know what ways you choreograph and develop movement with flags? Or how you choreograph and move with a flag!! Click here and drop me a line.

If you would like to join us at one of our events, make sure you check out our Events page.

Pinterest adapting choreography with christian dance

Jesus for Kids – Priniths excitement at stepping out to teach children Worship Dance.

In 2019 Prinith joined a UC Grace training day that focused on teaching children dance and movement with your faith. It provided tools and tricks to enable an encounter of Jesus for kids using worship dance and movement as the stimulus. I caught up with Prinith to find out the impact that this training day had on her teaching children and engaging them in worship dance and movement.

One Big Rainbow feather fun – UC Grace

Q – Why was it important to develop your skills in teaching children dance and faith?

“I am a Tots Helper at my church, which is great because it means there is no pressure to be in charge, but I am allowed to lead little bits as I wish. I’m also really encouraged to dance at my church. One of my friend’s kids, before she knew my name, knew me as the ‘dancey lady’. Therefore, you have an impact by modelling it and I wanted to be able to equip our kids because dance is a natural way for them to engage in worship.”

“I’ve done Movement in Worship’s training the trainers course and within the Springs Dance Company apprenticeship there was a teaching module. But to adapt that for children, was interesting and what I really wanted to learn through attending the Jesus for Kids – teaching dance and movement training day.”

Q – What did you learn through attending the Jesus for Kids – Teaching Dance and Movement training day?

“Just how to create activities so they would learn through having fun. But also thinking about things, like how can a warm up lead me to the end point. The big thing that I learnt was the idea of exploration, like ‘here you go, let’s do this, let’s go through this’, whichever age you do it with, it will work for. They explore. But then you get to the end goal, having done all this exploration. That’s the key learning that I’ve taken from UC Grace – let’s explore this, let’s play and then we’ll get to the end point eventually.”

“I found it really useful on the training day, that we actually put into practice what we were learning and started using it straight away. For example we had a theme and we worked in pairs, came up with an idea and then delivered it.”            

Family Advent Fun – be a role model. UC Grace
One Big Rainbow exploration time (under 5s)

Q – How have you put into practise what you have learnt since then?

“I remember talking to my CDFB regional coordinator and she really encouraged me to put it into practise as soon as possible, which was a really helpful tip. If you do Anna’s workshop, you need to put it into practise as soon as possible, to cement what you’ve learnt and keep it fresh.”

“I led our tots session on the parable of the lost coin, it was great fun because we ‘sparkled and shone’, we ‘whistled while we worked’, and we hunted for it to James Bond music, which the adults loved music wise but went over the heads of the tots! What was also really good was, we have a little boy with Downs Syndrome, who decided that the craft activity (which was rubbing coins), was not for him. Instead he played ‘lets hide the coin, lets find the coin’ under the sofa. Which just proved that teaching children through movement taught them the story. He knew that we were looking for the lost coin.”

Q – What impact has it had on the children in your church?

“My church is a multi-site church, so there are children that don’t go to the same site as me, but they still seek me out to dance when we have our meeting together. There was one little boy last autumn that sought me out, and wanted to dance in the worship with me, because he’s known me and he’s seen me teach them, he’s seen me model it. He’d watched too much strictly, there were all kinds of moves, including slides across the floor! Then more recently, there was girl that was watching me dance. I had taught her movement at the church weekend away,but didn’t think she’d taken anything in, but she came and followed all my dance moves perfectly and danced with me, it was amazing, I have a huge soft spot for that little girl now!”

Drama, Dance and Craft. UC Grace

Q – What is one golden nugget that you go back to every time?

“Exploration!”

“Teaching children is probably the most exciting workshop I have ever done, and I’d encourage anyone who wants to grow in their teaching skills to seek training from UC Grace.”

Prinith de Alwis Jayasinghe leads the Movement in Worship Birmingham Base and goes to Churchcentral West in Birmingham.

Moving Rainbows session with youth helper

How can I find out more about Jesus for kids – Teaching dance and movement?

There are several options to learn more about sharing your faith using dance and movement with children. We regular run in person training days – full details available here on the website.

By the end of the 2020 there will also be the chance to do an online course. Additionally a comprehensive written manual is due for release in 2021. If you wish to be the first to hear when our online course launches, the written manual is available, as well as other events in our Jesus for Kids training then head here to let me know your details.

Creative activities painting
Creative Prayer and craft activity time at Little Rainbows – under 5s.

Worship Dance – 5 Scriptures that Inspire Movement

God’s word is an amazing book to dive in to, each chapter and each verse will bring up different things for different people. I love the fact that what will jump out to me will be different for you. As I sat to write this, I realised how hard it is to just select 5 scriptures! The biggest passion of UC Grace is bringing God’s word alive using dance and movement, so the whole Bible inspires movement for me, inspires me to worship dance. However, just like you have favourite words or sayings, there will always be scriptures that stand out more than others. The 5 that I share here, don’t even skim the surface, but they do encourage me to dance, move and pray.

Joshua 1.9

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

In Joshua we learn about how God knows every place we set our feet (verse three). He knows when we need courage and when we need to know that He will be with us where ever we are. This can bring strength and depth to our worship dance movement.

Psalm 139.1-6

You have searched me, Lord and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

This whole Psalm is packed with the promises of how God made us, how individual we are and the care that God has for us as we do our journey. It serves as reminder when we might be struggling with self-image, acceptance and knowing our individuality.

Isaiah 40.29-31

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young me stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

How often in life are we exhausted and feel like there is no strength left to keep moving? Exploring that feeling of weariness and loss, followed by strength with our bodies, allows us to physically recognise the impact of emotions and knowledge that will support us through it all. Worship dance brings out so many emotions it is important to pause.

Jeremiah 29.12-13

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me with all your heart.

God hears all the prayers we say, whether we whisper them or shout them. Choosing to reveal our heart to him will instil hope, create calm and cause us to pause.

Matthew 6.9-13

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation but delivery us from the evil one.

The Lords Prayer. Simple and effective. A prayer that encourages us to be drawn into Gods word, to pray for others and lead by example. One of my favourite and effective ways to introduce people to moving to Gods word.

If you would like to learn more about moving and dancing to scripture, why not join us on one of our prayer dance bite sessions, that will give you a taster. More information available here Prayer Dance Bites.

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

Worship Flags – 3 Steps to Guide You

Worship flags resound with people in different ways, everyone will have different preferences, whether you are a seasoned worship dancer with flags, or someone new exploring and curious to see what it’s all about.

During this blog I want to share just 3 steps that can help guide you when using worship flags. If you want to find out more detail about why flags, dance and worship go together and what the Bible says about it, check out Flags and Banners – What does the Bible say, for more info.

UC Grace Summer Tour - St Neots. Nakai flagging

Make and Model

There are many different styles of worship flags and you can get very technical with it. But let’s look at it simply.

MAKE

The shape and weight of fabric will create a different ebb and flow when you dance with it. The type of stick that you use also affects this.

For example, I teach with rod dowelling sticks, and rectangular size metallic lame of varying sizes. I use this style as it’s the easiest to teach beginners with and offers a ‘safe’ start which every participant can connect with. It also enables further skills to develop and be practiced as your knowledge of dance and movement in worship grows.

However, wing (or rounded edge flags) which tend to semi circular in size and often fitted with some form of flexi rod poles, are lighter in weight, but need more co-ordination and skill to master movement in continuous flow due to their size and shape.

The type of fabrics used for flags varies, but is often one of the following – metallic lame, silk or organza. Each fabric has a different weight and therefore the effect created with movement alters.

Sue with Fan Veils at Going Deeper 2019

MODEL

Model refers to the “look”. Different colours can create different meanings. When you choose to step up and dance with worship flags you will be drawn to a colour, colour combination or picture.

There are generalised meanings attached to colours (see below). But remember, God speaks to us all individually and therefore the reason you are drawn to a specific colour might be different to someone else.

Worship flags are spectacular is size, shape and colour. What would be your ‘ideal’ size and shape?

Holy Spirit fire Flag

Move with your WHOLE body

Your body is your vessel, you know its limitations and the movements it loves to do the most. When a worship flag is picked up generally one of two things happen.

The first being you stand still on the spot and wave, creating patterns in front of you and above you with your arms and the flags, perhaps with a little ‘bop’.

The second being, you ‘move’ across the space as you would normally without the flag.

Neither option is wrong, thats the beauty of how we come before God. Individually made, created for a purpose, letting God lead our hearts.

Dancing Free 2020 - flag workshop

For you created my in most being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139.13

But my encouragement to you would be to move with your WHOLE body. Look at your worship flag as an extension of your arm. This is a hard concept to grasp initially as it can seem very awkward to do.

When I first teach newbies to flag the main thing that I want them to recognise is that their body already knows movement, the flag is an extra layer to share more about God and go deeper into worship. As your body already knows movement, let it lead you. Let it find the rhythm, hear the lyrics and see what others do.

Pause with your worship flag

Pause, to breathe, to acknowledge the reason why you are stepping out with a worship flag, to ask God to lead you with your movements. Pausing is good, whether, before or during movement.

It allows you to ask the Holy Spirit to lead you in your conversation with God, to pray a blessing on others through the movement that you share and to enter into the time of worship with your whole heart and not just a portion of it.

If you would like to explore more ways of using worship flags then reading Adapting Choreography to flags in worship dance, maybe useful for you.

Drone footage from UC Grace Summer Tour 2020: St Neots

If you’ve not joined the UC Grace journey yet, we would love to have you join. There is lots happening even through this time of change we have experienced. Get in touch for more info, or look on the website.

Holding a flag high. An image to use for pinterest.