Why use dance and movement through Lent?

Last week, as I sat and looked through the coming events with UC Grace and where they sat in the wider calendar, I suddenly realised that Lent was just a week away. It got me thinking about how Lent is approached in the wider world, and how much emphasis people place on it.

Many people strive to give up things, or try to focus on something specific, but how many actually use those 40 days to draw closer to God, to deepen their relationship with him, learn something new about themselves and God? Probably not as many as we’d think.

Then my thinking all got a bit radical, and I thought, why don’t we dance through Lent??

Lent is set aside as a time of reflection, prayer, and preparation. What better way to prepare ourselves than to move the bodies God has given us in surrender when words don’t suffice.

In him we live and move and have our being… Acts 17.28

This is one of my favourite verses, the essence of dance summed up in 10 words! Tim Hughes song, God of Justice emphasises it very well too, with the phrase ‘move us into action, we must go.’ God moves us into action, fills our hearts and initiates our movements.

So, the idea has grown, to 6 week resource, to encourage us all to step out in some form of movement each day. My heart is that those who are both inexperienced and experienced can access it, with different options for people to dip into depending on their time and circumstance.

The Layout

Each day there is a bible reference and a themed word assigned to it, the word is there to help you prompt other feelings as you do the study.

Over the course of the 6 weeks we are going to look at 4 areas, the Psalms – 2 weeks, Armour of God – 1 week, God’s Truths -2 weeks, and of course the Easter story.

How will it work?

Each Wednesday the next weeks study will come out. When completing the study, there are two levels. If you’re short on time, concentrate on the first 3 questions, these can be done in 10-15 minutes. If you’ve got more time and want to go deeper, do the next set of 3 questions which will also take 10-15 minutes. So, if you decide to do both it can be around a 30 minute movement time!

How much movement will I do?

That is really up to you, the studies are designed so that you can put as much action into them as you want, or if you just want to isolate a single word and do a single action you can do that too.

Do I need to have danced or moved before?

No, this study can provide a great way to introduce you to movement. There is no right or wrong way to move, if you are putting Jesus at the centre of your movement. My encouragement would be to start simple, by thinking of movements connected to words in the literal sense.

What if I don’t understand what to do?

Drop me a message! Ask in the Facebook group! There is a UC Grace worship chatter group where the main ‘talk’ of the series will be happening. This is so other platforms aren’t constantly bombarded with what’s going on.

This sounds awesome! How do I sign up?

Already on my email list? Drop me a message here which says ‘count me in’.

Not on my email list? Then head here …. and I can make sure you get all the information you need.

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Dancing with Ribbons

Ribbons are another way to bring colour and movement into dancing. Not only do they raise the eye level upwards, but the colour and the way the ribbon moves speak to different people in so many ways.

There’re short ones, fat ones, thin ones, long ones, multilayer ones, it’s only your imagination that can limit the type of ribbon you can make and use. But just like with flags, there are a few things that you should always remember when choosing to move with a ribbon.

It’s all about the wrist! The ebb and flow of the ribbon is created via the flex, rotation and flick of the wrist. It’s always best to hold the ribbon wand at the end to allow greatest movement and extension during your dancing. Much like with the flag, the ribbon is an extension of your arm, but unlike a flag, it moves, wraps, knots and twists a lot more easily. Clear precise movements of the wrist and body (!) help to maintain the ribbon in a place of hover and shape in the air.

The length is important! As mentioned above, you can have ribbons in whatever length you want. However, I would say there are some exceptions. Children can operate a ribbon best under 2m, and I’d recommend 1m or even shorter (on a curtain ring) for children aged 2 – 5 years. Children will naturally want to move with a ribbon, instinctively they are drawn to it. But, their spatial awareness, movements and concentration can cause the ribbon to get wrapped up, knotted, hit someone and sometimes used a weapon or toy.

For adults starting out I’d recommend starting at around 1.25m or 3m, no longer. You need to build up the strength and movement technique with your wrist before moving onto something longer. Some dancers move with up to 6m of ribbon, but the understanding and movement capabilities of the dancer is much greater.

Dancing with a ribbon you can sometimes get stuck using the same sort of movements, but you have your whole body too. Unlike the flag, this lovely piece of ribbon really can mimic your movements in the shape it creates and the way that it moves.

The video below demonstrates how ribbons can be seen up high, but also how their movements flow and sit well with how the rest of the body naturally moves. The dancers in this dance were from all different backgrounds, some with no dance experience, some with lots. In this instance the ribbons allowed everyone to be on the same level, take part and move together.

2011 Joyful Joyful performance

So, they can be an excellent tool at drawing those who could be nervous, interested but not tried it, or have different abilities, together to move and dance as one.

Do you use ribbons already? How did you find getting started with them, getting the movements from the wrist right and using your whole body with them?

If you’re interested in trying out moving with some ribbons you can head here, where you can find some different colours and lengths to get you going. There are one’s available on curtain rings too, for the little ones. Pop back and let me know how you get on.

Worship ribbons and streamers
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What different ways do you pray?

What different ways do you pray?

Weaving prayer into our everyday life can sometimes be a challenge can’t it? I love exploring ways to use movement and prayer together, go deeper with God and journey with others.

Amazing Grace Course July 2018

We’ve developed a fantastic resource to enable you to start moving at a pace that you are comfortable with, pausing where needed. It’s completely FREE and you can access it here. We’d love to know how you get on, so please do let us know.

When I connect prayer and movement I find it easier to associate with specific areas. In the FREE download – 5 Ways to use Prayer and Movement together,  I identify the following areas –

  • Walking
  • Knees
  • Thanking
  • Declaring
  • Revealing

Each area providing an avenue to explore movement in a different way. It can be really daunting choosing to step out and pray using movement. But the thing that God delights most, is not only that you try, but that nothing is EVER WRONG. Any way you choose to move for him, there is a party. PLUS if someone sees you doing prayer movement, you never know the impact that that will have on them.

So go on, go for it and try stepping out! Grab the it here.

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