Praise and WorshipIt is important to teach children about praise and worship as a foundation to liturgical dance ministry. Help them understand the meaning of praise and worship. Teach them words of worship and praise like "Hallelujah" or "Thank you Jesus". Teach them to lift their hands and express their feelings towards God during services and at home.
Children should understand that praise and worship doesn't not always have to be before the congregation in ministry. It should be a lifestyle that they can participate in at home and during worship services.
PrayerMany children in church are not fortunate to have parents that will take the time to show them how to pray. Some children do not see their parents pray at home. They see things that are contrary to what is being taught at good, Bible believing churches. As a liturgical dance instructor you can plant a seed in them while they are young. The best way to teach them how to pray is to begin with the Lord's Prayer; also create a dance from the Lord's Prayer to help them remember it. To do this, find slow tempo Christian instrumental music and recite the Lord's prayer while they dance. This dance can be used for ministry on Sunday or at dance concerts if you have them.
ScriptureI always like to begin my classes with a scripture for meditation. Help you junior praise dancers learn Bible verses by committing to giving them a new one to study and remember. Repetition is the key. Say the scripture every class and test them on their new scripture every month, or how often you choose.
The key to dance foundation is ballet. The reason is that ballet is very structured. It focuses on straight body lines, core strength, and intellect. Every ballet move has it's own name and it is in French. Begin by teaching them to point and flex their toes. You can start with a stretch sitting on the floor with their legs together or apart. Then instruct them to point their toes and flex their toes upon your instruction. Pointed toes always look better whether the foot is on the ground or in the air.
Begin with teaching words and moves such as:
Plie-bending of the knees
Arabesque-position where the dancer is standing on one leg with the other lifted behind them, toes are pointed. Also, it can be done while the leg behind is in the air. The standing leg can be straight or in a plie.
Jete-this means to leap off of one foot on to another.
These are just a few examples of dance moves and words you can teach as a dance foundation in ballet. Then you can build their dance vocabulary and movement from there.
ModernBuilding upon ballet is the modern dance style. Modern dance is the style of dance that uses improvisation to develop a dancer's character. In an earlier post Teaching Improvisation as a Guide to Moving in Prophetic Dance, I explain how improvisation and dance interpretation can help develop a prophetic dance flow. Dancing without choreography is about a dancer's ability to trust themselves. Liturgical dance instructors have a job to help develop their dancers' ability to "just dance."
Other Tips:If you notice children that have a desire to dance but are a little shy, you can give them praise instruments such as flags, streamers, and banners and see if they are would be willing to dance if they are these tools in hand.
Developing coordination for younger dancers is very important. Make sure that your younger liturgical dancers can skip or gallop. This coordination will help them when it is time to learn those turns and jumps.
Always remember that as a liturgical dance leader, you can deposit a lifetime of skills that the youth of today need. Some need attention, others need confidence, all need spiritual guidance. Develop your junior dancers spiritual ability as well as their dance ability, and you will develop beautiful dancers for the Kingdom of God.
Below is a short, fun video of my lovely daughter dancing.
©2012 Katina Davenport all rights reserved