Dance Ministry – Creating Christian dance choreography for Biblical character Esther.

During this month we are looking at the story of Esther, how her character and story can play a key role in our day to day life, particularly during this season. When you look into the character of Esther there is so much to learn, as dancer, it seemed simple to put that into a dance. In this post I want to share with you how I created Christian dance choreography for her character. The sticky points I came across and how exploring Esther has given me a greater understanding of what her story is all about.

Understanding the background.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have spent a long time in Esther exploring the story, and how it impacts on my journey of faith. Throughout this deep dive I came up with the following descriptions that were part of her story.

Brainstorm about Esther's character.

Creating a mind map of what stands out to you about a character or story allows you to begin exploring movement, pairing phrases and look at the emotion that the phrases create. This acts as a starting to point create your Christian dance choreography.

As you can see above, after the mind map, I then created a list of 6 key words that I felt spoke to me the most about Esther’s journey.

Creating a refrain to ground your Christian dance choreography.

Often in a piece of choreography there is a refrain or motif. This is something that creates a general thread throughout the dance. It keeps reappearing sometimes the same, sometimes different. But it offers a chance for expansion in emotions and dynamics.

For Esther I felt it important that the refrain was based on preparation and the word nervous. Two things that gradually grew over the time of her story. Often when we are preparing, we need to be deliberate, lift our head and eyes to see what is coming… even if we don’t want to! Part of Esther’s preparation was various beauty products for her body, only then could she go in front of the King. That must have been a very nerve racking first visit.

Preparing to wear the crown of Queen Esther.

When you watch the video see if you can spot the refrain and the movements Esther carried through her journey. Creating your refrain is a great starting point for developing your Christian dance choreography.

Developing the character descriptions.

Once the refrain was created, I knew that the rest of the movements needed to be padded around it. It’s one of the things I love about creating Christian dance choreography. There is no set way of doing it. But this process that I’m explaining, is probably my favourite way.

Demonstrating the other things that Esther’s story took her through – boldness, walking with it all, stepping out, trust. Requires thinking about the emotions, anything visual that stands out, shapes, dynamics etc. Take each one at a time and see which way your body wants to move.

Using a jump in Christian dance choreography.

The one I struggled with the most was ‘walking with it all’. Esther chose, despite her background and how Haman was acting to still keep moving forward, to keep walking. As a singular dancer I found this quite hard to explore. In my mind to develop the Christian dance choreography I want to move in and around groups of people that might choose to step in my way.

Instead, I explored it by trying to create continuous flowing movements that moved me around the space, with pauses and changes of direction as needed.

Piece together and find the emotions to complete your Christian dance choreography.

I chose to explore pairs of words when I filled out the choreography I had around the phrase. Pairing boldness and walking through it all as one. Then step out and trust as another.

All of these phrases intertwine, but they tell a story of emotion, challenge, pause and growth. Primarily I moved without music. I found that this didn’t inhibit the movement I created. You have the choice to create movement with inspiration from the music or to focus in on the theme.

Reaching into the plan that God has for Esther.

The music placed behind the Christian dance choreography for the character of Esther is there for background purposes.

I had so much fun (not only because it was snowing) settling in and dancing this. I hope you enjoy it!

Fancy exploring more about Christian dance choreography? Check out these posts 3 ways to explore worship dance choreography with Philippians 3.14 and How to adapt choreography to use worship flags in Christian dance.

You can follow more of my dance and choreography journey on Instagram @uc.grace.

Pinterest graphic for  Christian dance choreography.

The UK Dance Blessing is Released

Following the release of The Blessing UK at the beginning of May 2020, Anna and Prinith felt led to respond to a call from God to gather the movers and dancers of the UK to move a blessing and prayer over the area that people lived in. It’s vision was to – 

Mobilise a dancing army across the UK, which collaborating with dancers, dance ministries and worshippers. Whose heart it was, was to pray a blessing for the area they live in using dance and movement.

Amazingly over 200 dancers and movers responded to this call to step out and move a blessing and prayer for the people around them and the place they live in. Quite literally a dancing army mobilised across all 4 nations of the UK.

We pray as you watch this that you are blessed and know that God is with you, that there is a Hope bigger than you realise to get you through those times of struggle.. That no matter what you are going through there are people praying for you, not always in words, but instead with movement.

Movement expresses what words can not.

Alongside this video we have also released an eBook of testimonies of how God spoke to those that moved and responded to his call. Join their journey and hear the impact that dancing had on the dancers themselves.

You can get a copy of the ebook by clicking on the button below.

Video will Premier Friday 5th June 20.00

Written by Chris Brown, Cody Carnes, Kari Jobe and Steven Furtick c 2020 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing, Capitol CMG Paragon/ Writers Roof Publishing, Worship Together Music/ Kari Jobe Carnes Music

UK Blessing Music Audio produced by Trevor Michael in collaboration with UK churches. UK Blessing Song version music is used with permission. With thanks to Les Moir and Andy Au for helping with seeking this permission.

Project Co-ordinators – Anna Gilderson and Prinith de Alwis Jayasinghe

Video edited by Drew Crow

Dance Collaboration – The Blessing

Who saw the UK Blessing video yesterday? It was great to see the unity in the church.

Myself (UC Grace) and Prinith (Movement in Worship Birmingham Base) have felt led to organise a UK Dance/ Movement blessing. We want people across different dance ministries, and individuals that simply have a passion for demonstrating their faith through movement, to join us in creating this blessing.

Dear Dancer

We’d love to invite you to take part in a UK project to draw Christian dancers together and create a blessing to people across the UK.

The Vision

To dance to the song The Blessing by The UK Blessing (original Kari Jobe) using this version – https://youtu.be/PUtll3mNj5U

Gathering the videos together we will compile it into video for everyone to share across social media and their networks. We want it to be an opportunity to display the vast ability of dancers, their heart to worship Jesus and share their faith through dance and movement. During covid 19 lockdown, dance places, workshops and performances may have been shut down, but a dancing army have continued to move in their homes and outdoor spaces as they feel led. Dance impacts more than we know and this presents a fantastic opportunity for many to gather and move for our God. Would you like to join us?

The details –

  • We plan to air the video on Sunday 17th May.
  • All video submissions need to be received by Sunday 10th May.
  • Videos must be recorded in landscape
  • Please do not wear any branded clothes.
  • Feel free to use banners, flags or other props
  • Please dance to as much of the song as you feel led to.
  • Ensure your ‘background’ is as clear as possible.
  • Send recordings to us via this link and select choose files – https://www.dropbox.com/request/RTzhgiAnwbrdlFO2l9Hh
  • Email birmingham@miw.org.uk with your name, location and dance organisation (if applicable).

We hope you can join us.

Blessings,

Anna (UC Grace) and Prinith (Birmingham Movement in Worship Base)

Build God’s Kingdom – Change the Atmosphere

Happy Easter!

Today we celebrate our risen King. Let’s dance somewhere not seen before. Let’s build God’s kingdom and change the atmosphere.

We begin by joining in the 3rd day after Jesus died, the day that he rose again. The two Mary’s found an empty tomb. And an angel told them Jesus was risen just as he said he would. Go and tell the disciples the angels said.

Skipping forward to after the encounters we hear how Jesus then gives us the commission. Let’s read it in the message version. Matthew 28.18-20.

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.

I will be with you… He says it, claim it, Jesus will be with you.

As I prepared for today I asked God to be specific about what I could bring on a Easter Sunday like we won’t have again in our lifetime. What could I challenge you, encourage you, show you as we celebrate, remember and share this awesome day of risen King.

He turns our mourning into dancing

Our weeping into joy

Our pain in to laughter

He calms the seas

And he stands, always with us.

At the beginning of the commission it says ‘go out and train everyone you meet, far and near in this way of life.’ (The Message)

Ponder these questions –

  1. What could ‘train everyone you meet’ mean?
  2. What ‘way of life’ in your life could you demonstrate to others?

This is the churches time.

The Rend Collective song, ‘Build your Kingdom here’, speaks of “change the atmosphere”, of building God’s kingdom in amongst whatever is happening in the world. You know my passion of the impact that dance and movement has on those around us, as we witness Gods word and action. We have seen change through responding to the call to stepping out and responding in dance and movement.

So my final questions to you is –

Are you ready to change ATMOSPHERE?

Take a flag, streamer, ribbon, piece of material, anything you are comfortable with. Step up and change the atmosphere in a place that is near to you.  Watch the video and see a snapshot of my heart from the song ‘Build your kingdom here’. Let’s dance louder with our movements to the song. Stir the atmosphere as you move to the chorus particularly.

This is part of our Prayer Dance Bite programmer. We meet 3 times a week to move, dance and pray using scripture and other themes. You can check out more info here.

Peace be Still… Let Faith Arise

Many of you have heard me speak about raising up a #dancingarmy and encouraging people to #dancealittlelouder. The reality of this happening has snowballed, and it is awesome to see how God is using such a simple concept to gather people, to gather movers and dancers whose whole heart is simply to worship, praise, prayer, live life and more through Jesus. If you’ve not joined us yet for a Prayer Dance Bite can I encourage you to do so. Let’s step out and live our journey of faith through movement, however big or small that might be.

During this crazy time that we are living in at the moment. It can send many of us into a spin with an unclear way out. In another one of my late night/ early morning awake times with my son, my head was in a spin about the latest news of the more intentional lockdown we were about to enter. So many people would be feeling so many different things. What was God saying in amongst it all?? PEACE. PEACE, BE STILL.

I knew that I had to dance to that. That myself, and many others needed to know that God says, Peace Be Still… Let your Faith arise. Jesus is the one that calms the storms with 3 strong words, He is the one that will bring us comfort, strength, peace and protection over the coming months. We need to choose to let our faith arise and lean into all that He has available for us.

As I shared with others my passion for moving to this song, they wanted to also dance, before I knew it, there was indeed a dancing army, proclaiming God’s word, safety, protection and peace. That’s what this video is. A culmination of 8 dancers stepping out to move in prayer for all. God moves mountains, he changes water into wine, he raises people from the dead, he heals the sick. He stands by us no matter what, walks with us during our darkest hours, and carries when it gets too much.

Remember this ripple I keep talking about? How a ripple can change the atmosphere. For just by one starting, others will follow. Let’s make this ripple shake and move the heavens. Let’s be bold in our conversations, our prayers, our movements. Let’s shake the heavens and show people how great our God is.

Join me, #dancealittlelouder. Be a #dancingarmy.

We’d love to connect with you further, so why not sign up to our newsletter where you can hear more about what we are doing and how you can get involved. Head here.

Fear of the Unknown

These verses are packed with so much stuff, recently I heard Cathy Madavan speak about the fear of the unknown in relation to these set of verses. Several things she spoke of really resonated with how life can be for so many of us.

What are you like when you are in a physical waiting room, such as at the doctors surgery or hospital, or outside an interview room? We often find ourselves pacing, twiddling our thumbs, taking lots of deep breaths and other things to keep ourselves distracted whilst waiting for the answer, some news or the next step.

Moments in our life will seem like God has put us in a waiting room, but what are we doing in that waiting room?

Are you wishing for answers, thinking of what you could do, where you could go, what you could be? Does it get you anywhere? Why do you not progress forward?

Lauren and Helen waiting.

Cathy spoke about, how, when we are in those times of waiting, we can be fearful of what is to come, fearful of the outcome and how God may answer the situation. Fearful of the unknown. To work through this, we need to be able to live with God in the present season, and not wish for seasons to come. After a waiting season always comes a fruitful season.

Our ability to work through this fear lies in how our patience is and whether we need to grow in the spiritual discipline of patience.

My husband often tells me that I have good patience, which is true when it comes to the children, dealing with lots of people and events. But when it comes to waiting for an answer or a step forward from God, my patience for that isn’t quite as well tuned! I most definitely pace, get grumpy and question the decisions that I have taken so far.

The spiritual discipline of patience is about being active in your patience. YOU decide what to do with your feelings. You can make the choice to keep emotions such as anger away from you, it doesn’t need to come near you. God has the big picture, in our waiting to see that, we need to accept that there will be waiting, that God has given us enough to last through that waiting.

Persistence in the patience and waiting is really important in our desire to focus on living with God in the present season. Look at those that have done it well, Esther, Paul, Abraham, Daniel, David, Mary and Martha and many more.

Think about when you are in that waiting place. Do you worship God or do you worship your circumstances?

I hope this has provided some thoughts about how you can deal with those periods of waiting. We can so easily slip into the mindset of grumbling in our waiting. Lets switch up our mindset and seek to serve, worship and LIVE during those waiting times.

Want to be kept up to date with all things UC Grace? Head here.

Golden Whirlwind

Does your movement change things?

God encourages us in those moments we need it most, even if we haven’t recognised that we need it. Whilst I was away at Rivercamp, there were several things that struck me.

The first being we all dance and move with the same heart. The second that a whirlwind is created as each of us moves in someway.

Let me share some more.

Part of my journey with UC Grace has been overcoming people’s perceptions of what I do and my heart behind it, as well believing and trusting that I was good enough to do it, and there was a need for it. It hasn’t been easy, at the Going Deeper weekend in July I shared some of this. That in the beginning of UC Grace I judged my ‘success’ on the number of people that came to my events and if I didn’t have many, I wasn’t good enough and doing it right.

Yet I knew the foremost reason that I was doing UC Grace was because it was about the hearts of those that came. The hearts that God needed to work with, take on a journey and grow. That’s what my heart needed to do, in order to recognise the gift God had grown inside me. A passion to share, motivate and grow others in movement and dance with Gods word as central.

During my time at Rivercamp I noticed a group of people that always congregated near a space at the side at the front, and claimed the space so to speak, and as the meeting got underway I realised they were movers and dancers of varying degrees of ability. As I began to watch them, a wrestle began in my spirit. A wrestle to watch, receive and bless what I was seeing, but at the same time resentment, longing, and feeling put out and it was unfair! Lots of emotions that had crept up and I didn’t know where to go with. Except I did, but only because of the journey I had been through with UC Grace.

Let me unpack this.

When I am in an environment where my emotions seem to be getting the better of me, or, better put, the Devil is trying to windle his way in. I check myself. I take a pause, a visible breath. The negativity that I was experiencing was pulling up my insecurities, ones that I had defeated. But there, in that present moment, in a new situation they were trying to come to the surface again. I just kept saying to myself, ‘they have a heart to move too,’ ‘they are worshipping God their way.’

In those moments in the worship, where I was desperate just to be lost in it and dance myself, I had to deal with this before I moved forward. I had to deal with the elephant! So, I began a conversation with God, asking what I have got to learn here, what did I need to deal with, recognise, bless, repent. Tough going!

As I relaxed into his presence, he encouraged me that it wasn’t about me being ‘left out’ or ‘not included’, it was about opening up opportunities for others to experience God.

The essence of UC Grace….

As UC Grace has grown, part of my battle has been addressing how UC Grace is seen, or what it is. It’s only been the past few years that I’ve acknowledged that it is a business. I say this here because it is through that acknowledgment that God presented me with opportunities for UC Grace to grow and develop.

Over the few days after that initial encounter in the tent at Rivercamp, I thought about it more, the impact of my reaction to what I had felt, and asked God to reveal more about it.

I had the most amazing picture.

This is the reason for this post, but I wanted you to understand a few things before I shared it. Every dancer and movers journey is different. You will experience some negativity at some point on your journey about dancing and moving, the key is how you deal with it when you are presented with it.

My heart is to release and equip others with their faith through dance and movement. Jesus will always be the number one person I go to for decisions, reasons and conversations, and that includes business ones. UC Grace is a business, it’s a business God has blessed with growth over a very big journey, the picture God gave me, not only encouraged me in my journey with UC Grace, but the journey of Christian dance organisations, businesses, and individuals. Whether they are moving now, will be movers, or will simply just experience the soaking of the Holy Spirit through someone moving around them.

So the picture…

During one of the last worship times at Rivercamp, the tent had come to a very hushed quiet, what I began to see were small whirlwinds over the tops of groups of people. As these whirlwinds began to move around the place, gold started to be threaded through them.

All the whirlwinds then converged into one. Into a tornado. A tornado of GLORY, filled with gold. As it moved it changed the atmosphere, transforming those it moved over. The more it moved the more different colours came into it. The more it moved it was clear that it was the interaction of what was inside the tornado that was causing the shift in the atmosphere.

As the image faded away, it was an ah ha moment. A moment where I recognised why God had to reiterate to me before about how precious each person’s movement was, and how each individuals movements when converged with others creates something far more powerful than we can ever fathom. It creates a movement in the heavens that transforms those around it.

This is something that I knew, but sometimes you can loose sight of it, when you’re tired and been giving out lots.

There is however more.

My friend told me about a picture an artist had in a tent, that I needed to go and look at. This is it… what do you see?

Painting by Helen Yousaf https://www.helen-yousaf-art.com/
Painting by Helen Yousaf https://www.helen-yousaf-art.com/

Two things were brought to my attention. The whirlwind effect of colours spiralling with the reaction to the environment around it. But also, how it fits in with the UC Grace logo. The lady that painted this is Helen Yousaf a prophetic artist and an amazing worship leader.

I was just astounded (again) at how God brings everything together. Are you a dancer? Are you ready to change the atmosphere that you move in? Are you ready to take your whirlwind where God tells you? Get in touch as I would love to hear from you.

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