What does the UC of UC Grace mean?

As more and more people have asked me this over the last year I found myself having to think really hard about what the ‘UC’ was for. I knew I had written a sentence that encapsulated it, but what that was I couldn’t remember. Not because there wasn’t ever a reason to not remember, but because in the beginning it was front and centre in my mind, as I set my name and started my business. But as time has gone on the ability to recall those details has been harder, there’s been shifts in my aims, my logo design and branding, as well as the ‘info’ that I display about UC Grace. Plus, the reality of life and just being busy!

How UC Grace began in 2010

Let’s open the door…

But, there always comes a point when you need a spring clean, a bit of a shake through to remove bits of info that have served it’s time and that’s what happened with the ‘UC’. The logo changed to the letters and wording beneath it changed, I revamped the website, once, twice, many times, I rebranded, I acknowledged by values for the business and the way I wanted to push forward. But the reasoning behind the name was always there, it’s just been hidden behind different layers.

The logo in 2011

So, let’s revisit our roots and share in more depth how the ‘UC’ came about, the biggest thing to recognise first, was that it was a 2 fold development (see Golden Whirlwind for info about why I teach).

So what was the starting point?

In the early days as I sat with my notebook writing down lots of different names, I settled quite quickly on the word Grace, acknowledging that as part of our Christian walk, grace was so important. I realised that I wanted people to ‘see’ grace in dance, in our movements, actions, connections and relationships. So initially all I had was ‘you’ ‘see’ and ‘grace’. Deciding how to coax that into a name was super hard. The development of single letters happened quite quickly ‘uC’. Notice the little ‘u’ and the big ‘C’. That was pivotal as I felt it showed where the emphasis needed to be. The idea of opening up our eyes, seeing things that we wouldn’t have seen before, releasing something, and, so began the next stage.

We we entered 2012 there was a slight change, feeling that I needed to put ‘dance’ within the name and encase the tagline to a more succinct one with just my key words.

Defining what the ‘uC’ was about, working out what would create the foundation. I settled on it encompassing these words –
uncapped
unceasing
unchanging
uncover
uncontrolled

The addition of dance didn’t last long. By the end of 2012 I’d reverted back to just ‘UC Grace’

This became the saying that best described what the ‘uC’ was about, and it sat beneath the name uC Grace.

You can see the progression of the logo in these pictures.

As I moved forward with the company, another 3 words were pivotal in under pinning our tagline

– encouraging | growing | releasing –

these enable us to put Gods word front and centre in the company.

Encouraging – each person to grow into who they are meant to be

Growing – each person in their skills, knowledge and confidence God has given them

Releasing – each person into their dreams, ministries and journeys God has for them

The last change before the major rebrand was this. The debate about whether I didn’t dance in my title had trundled on, so I wanted to add an image that would explain a bit more about the company was rather than putting dance.

But what does it all mean?

Let’s go back to the ‘uC’, where I had the little u and the big C. You might notice that now the little u is a big U. At the beginning of 2018 I undertook a rebrand of UC Grace. Initially it was just going to be an update of my logo, but after a few months of thinking and praying I realised that UC Grace had changed so much that it deserved a logo that would reflect it’s true heart. Big and bold YOU SEE GRACE, grace in our everyday, the way we think, move and act. Colour displaying individuality, fun and integrity to Gods promise. The dancer with a ribbon displaying the ability worship in different ways (You can read more about ribbons here). A yellow ribbon, to demonstrate JOY. JOY of movement and remembering someone who danced with such joy for Jesus throughout her whole life, Lyn.

Lyn Cave. The joyful dancer.

What ‘UC’ is going to be important for you going forward?

We all see different things in life, that means we see the importance of things on a different level. Take a moment to think about your present life, what areas might you need to see things differently? What areas might you need grace?

This is what the UC is all about!!

Going forward UC Grace is committed to demonstrating and sharing Gods word through dance and movement. The saying below is what developed in 2010 when I started UC Grace. It encapsulates so well what it means to generate a deeper conversation with God through dance and movement. We hope it connects with you and encourages you in your journey.

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.

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.

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

August Moving: Arms

Having strength in your arms is important, it helps improve your posture which means your back is strong, resistance training your arms has shown that it reduces the risk of musculoskeletal injuries or at least reduce their severity. But proper form is important.

  • Strong muscles will enhance your workout. Once you start concentrating on your upper body, other exercises will seem easier.
  • Working your arms can help protect your bones. Every year your bones loose more strength, but the good news is, the more you work them, the more you help to maintain healthy bones and build density.
  • Working your arms, gives you that feel good factor, the satisfaction that you’ve worked something hard and will reap the rewards. It will help your exercise mindset going forward.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your arm strength.

  1. Forearm pulse: Connect your forearms together from your elbow all the way up to your fingertips, palms together. Push the forms arms together to create tension. Pulse your arms up and down, maintaining contact with no gaps and pressure. Do this for 30 seconds/ pulses. Ensure your shoulders stay down and your core is still scooped in.
  2. Press ups: You probably thought you might get away with out these, but no such luck. A few things to remember about press ups. The further your feet are away the harder it, which means the lower your arms/ centre of gravity the harder it is too. So bear this in mind when you choose the level you want to do the press ups at. Place your hands just wider than your shoulders. Keep your shoulders down and tummy scooped. Make sure your body is in a straight line, so your bottom is tucked in. inhale on the way down. Exhale on the way up. Aim for 10 reps.
August Moving: Arms

August Moving: Quads

The quadriceps are one of your power house muscles in your body (alongside your core), that really need to be strong and stable. The muscle groups in your legs work together to ensure that your balance and stability are in the right place when your body needs it, as well ensuring your knee flexes and extends as needed.

  • Having strong quads will aid the stability needed for the knee joints, which can inherently be unstable and depend on ligaments and muscles to protect them from injury.
  • The inner thigh muscles also provide internal rotation, which counterbalances the external rotation from your outer thighs and glutes.
  • Like any major muscle groups they require care and maintenance, stretching in particular is important as no stretching can lead to a shortened thigh muscle which in turn means your knee won’t be able to flex effectively.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your quad strength.

  1. Squats – super easy to integrate into your day when you’re brushing your teeth, making a cup of tea, cooking tea and more! You need to have you feet hip or shoulder width apart and a straight back. Remember to scoop in your core and engage it. You want to bend your knees, ensuring your knees stay behind your toes, and your chest stays higher than your hips. You have the choice to do normal squats down and up, or add in a pulse at the bottom before you come up. Aim for 15 reps.
  2. Standing leg raises: Standing up tall with your tummy scooped in. Raise your leg up in front of you so it is slightly bent and then lower back down, let your big toe tap the ground but nothing else and lift leg back up. If you need to hold onto something to keep your balance, rest your hand lightly on a chair. The lifting of the leg must come from the thigh not the knee. Aim for 15 reps on each leg.

August Moving: Core

Our core can be something that we obsess about, what it looks like, how strong it is and the exercises that we do. During my time as a dance teacher and Buggyfit trainer I have seen many different exercises to work the core.

  • My conclusion, simpler is the better and conventional is not always best. What I mean by this is that sit ups and burpees are not the answer, they don’t target our inner core.
  • Our core is a complicated part of our body, and many different things impact it. What we forget is that our body is made up of many different layers. Conventional exercises focus on building strength in the upper layers, whilst inner core work goes deep down.
  • Training these muscles is essential for stability, joint control through motion and ensuring all those inner muscle work together to propel you forward in the best way.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your core strength.

  1. Box scoop: Kneeling on all fours ensure your knees are directly below your hips and your wrists are below your shoulders, have your back in neutral alignment. Relax your tummy, it’s really important that you really let it all go! Otherwise the exercise won’t work effectively. Inhale and let your tummy fill with air, as you exhale slowly scoop your in and up. You want to begin from the top of your pubic bone and finish at your belly button. Your aim is to create a C scoop as you draw your tummy in. Take 4 counts to exhale and 4 counts to inhale. You need to have control through both directions. 5 reps. This can also be done standing up, but by doing it on your hands and knees, you work against gravity more, so your muscles work harder!
  2. Candlestick Dipper: This will work your transverse abdominus and your obliques. Kneel on the ground, with one leg out to the side. Ensure your back in straight and your hip is stacked above your knee for the one you’re kneeling on. For the one out to side, keep the toe facing forward and the heel to the back. Option A is to raise your arms out to the side at shoulder height, maintaining a straight line with your body tilt to the side away from the foot that it out. Touch the floor with your fingertips. The further away you touch the harder it is. Option B join your fingertips together above your head. Maintain contact with your fingers as you lean to the side and then bring yourself back up. It’s important to keep yourself aligned for both these options and don’t allow your bum to out backwards and you reach forward with you arms. For those who have a weak core or less than 5 months postpartum, only do option A!
August Moving: Core

August Moving

Summer months is always a time when we naturally pick up the pace and move more, whether that’s through day trips out or just because the weather is nicer, we are outside more. I’m someone who needs to go outside and move everyday whatever the weather. But the reality of moving in a specific way apart from day to day tasks can be daunting, we might all think about it lots, but the actual doing of it, can take some extra focus.

Throughout August I want to offer some real quick ways to integrate movement into your everyday that will allow a daily habit to be created. I’ll also provide some extra info about why we might want to support or exercise that part of the body.

Week one: Ankle | 5th August

Why start with the ankles? Ankles are one of our main joins that take the stress and strain of our whole body as we go about our day. They help keep us stable, work our core and pivot with changes of direction and motion as needed. Here’s some other key facts to remember about ankles –

  • A major function is proprioception, when neutral transmitters in and around the joint respond to signals from the brain that enable you to identify where the ankle is and how well balanced you are on it.
  • Improving the flexibility of your ankle will significantly help with your strength, squat and reduce injury.
  • The ankle is a hinge joint and works on one plane of motion – dorsiflexion and plantarflexion. Plantarflexion is the movement downwards – pointing your toes like a ballet dancer. Dorsiflexion is the movement up, when your toes go towards the sky whilst your heel is on the ground.
  • Strong dorsiflexion means the front of the shin can move forward during a movement, which helps with crucial body alignment and application of force.

Exercises to try –

If you can do the 2 exercises 2 – 3 times a day. You will start to feel a noticeable difference in your ankle strength.

  1. Flexion and extension of ankle: sitting on the floor extend your legs out in front of you, alternately flex your foot to the ceiling and then point it down to the ground. Push to the point that you feel a stretch. Aim for 10 reps flexing, 10 reps extending. This can also be done on a chair/sofa. What ever you choose, ensure you’re sat up straight and your shoulders are down.
  2. Heel raises: ensure you are standing up straight, place your feet hip width apart and take a slight bend. This is the position that you will hold during the exercise. Keep your knees and rest of body still, lift up your as far as you can, pushing the top of your foot forward. Lower back down. Do 10 reps. This can also be done on a step, by dropping heels below the top of the step and then raising them up.
August Moving: Ankles

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.

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