Thursday, December 29, 2011

Photo album of "The Coming King"

An album of pictures from "The Coming King" has been created. Click here to see the pictures that tell the story of the presentation.

The Coming King

"Unchanging" Presentation Poll

For parents of students in The King's Praise Ballet:

Last year I heard from some parents that they would enjoy having two presentations for the spring presentation, like we do for the Christmas presentation. After all, you buy costumes and the girls work hard learning their dances, so we get to use all of that more if we present twice instead of once.

However, I also know that the spring is a busy time, with many recitals and trips, and I don't want to overload your calendar.

Please vote in the poll below.

Right now I'm planning two presentations of "Unchanging" (the spring recital celebrating the attributes of God) but if the majority shows you would prefer one, then I can go with that.

Feel free to clarify your vote or add any comments you have in the comments section of this post.

Thanks for your vote!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Stuck with Sheep

"Were stuck here with a thousand sheep!"

Picture credit: Robyn Clement

Flying shepherd

These shepherds were fun to work with. They came up with more daring stunts than I would have dreamed of, and Ben survived without ever breaking a bone! :)

Picture credit: Robyn Clement

"You're Here"

"You're here!"

Picture credit: Robyn Clement

Heart Sisters

It was fun seeing these girls be "big sisters" to little 4 year olds, when a mere 4 years ago THEY were the little ones!

Picture credit: Robyn Clement

Slidshow of "The Coming King"

Below is the slideshow I made to play at the beginning of "The Coming King" presentations. I had a few great photographers! Enjoy seeing a glimpse of the ballet through pictures.

Friday, December 16, 2011

"To worship Him"

"We have come to worship Him"

Photo credit: Dieter Spears

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"What can I give Him?"

"What can I give Him?"

"I'll give Him my heart!"

Dad & Daughter Duet

"He would tell them of His kingdom..."

"When love was born"

"Close my eyes and see the night when love was born..."

A cradle...

"A mother tonight is rocking a cradle in Bethlehem..."

Sheep and Shepherds

The girls make the cutest sheep!

These guys make some crazy shepherds!

Come Friday at 7 PM or Saturday at 4 PM to see them for yourself!

Cast of "The Coming King"

The cast of "The Coming King" - after teaching them in small group classes all year, it's fun, and a bit overwhelming, to see them all together. God has truly blessed The King's Praise Ballet!

Dress rehearsal went well this afternoon. It's always a little crazy getting everyone together for the first time, but I had a great crew and lots of helpers!

Friday, December 9, 2011

"The Coming King" at Charlton Place

7 of my 10 classes danced at Charlton Place (nursing home) on Thursday, December 8th. It was a joy to see the girls sharing the gift of dance for the glory of God! The residents and workers really seemed to enjoy it as well.

Enjoy the pictures - a sneak peak of what you'll see if you come to "The Coming King" next weekend!

A dance taken from the prophecies of Isaiah, Micah, and Jeremiah

"Perfect child gently wakes..."

"When love was born."

"Carol of the Bells" - swirls of gold and white!

There's always a lot of action in this song!

"And peace on earth good will to men!"

"I don't know what to say when I look in Your eyes..."

"Behold a manger is His throne"

"Born is the King of Israel!"

"A mother tonight is rocking a cradle in Bethlehem..."

"God with us..."

"Emmanuel abides with us!"

"What can I give Him..."

"All of my heart!"

"What can we offer that's fit for a King?"

"But the sadness would be broken as the song of life arose"

In lieu of the finale (which we need all the dancers and a LOT of space for!) we sang "Joy to the World" and invited the audience to sing along.

One presentation down, three to go - first on Monday at another nursing home, then presentations at Hunter Hills Church next Friday & Saturday (16th & 17th).

Please pray that dancers will stay well (there's sickness going around!) and that all the final details will come together for God's glory!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thankful for Ballet

This week, the week before Thanksgiving, I asked the girls what they were thankful for. Some classes I asked for anything, some classes I had fun asking what specific ballet movement they were thankful for. But for Ballet III, I decided to do something different, and ask what aspect of ballet they were thankful for. Their thoughtful replies encouraged me.

"I'm thankful for a time to be with friends."

It's been fun to see many friendships develop as a result of ballet classes. Some people join because their friends are taking (and then stay because they enjoy it so much!), but many become friends through the class. I don't allow much talking in class, but they take advantage of time before and after. There's also something special that happens when you dance with someone, especially for a few years. As you learn to move together, to move as one person, you get attuned to the other members of the class, as you match your movements to theirs. This draws you together in a special bond of friendship as well.

The Godly, encouraging friendships developing between the girls of The King's Praise Ballet are beautiful. To see them encourage and support each other in and out of class is truly a blessing.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity to praise God with dance."

My students usually start taking classes because they want to learn to dance - a logical reason. However, especially in the older ones, I've seen the reason that we dance - to praise God - truly taking root in their hearts. It comes out in their movement. They're not just going through the motions of ballet. Their hearts are using the movement to bring Him praise, and there's a noticeable difference. God is raising up worshipers of Him in girls from 4 to 17. It's a beautiful thing.

"I'm thankful for the way we get to move to the music."

It's such fun to listen to a song and get the movements to match the music. The way the two intertwine and complement each other is a lovely thing. As the girls progress, their musicality also develops, and I can see them listening and fitting the movements to match each different beat or music style. It's rewarding to see them truly dancing!

"I'm thankful that your focus for us is not to glorify our bodies, but to glorify God."

The world of dance can be a difficult one for young ladies. You spend hours watching yourself in the mirror, trying to correct all of your mistakes, and it's very easy to get self-focused. The amount of eating disorders among dancers is also sobering, as they strive to have the perfect body and compare themselves to each other.

But our focus is to praise God with dance - not push everyone to have the perfect, same size body. The girls I teach are all shapes and sizes, and yet they learn to move together, and the diversity is beautiful.

It was rewarding to see this student (who has taken from me for 4 years now!) recognize this. Her heart is fixed on glorifying God through dance, and that comes out in the way that she dances.

"I'm thankful that we get to move in a way that most people don't."

Ballet isn't natural - I tell my students that a lot. The way we hold our back and head, and turnout our legs isn't something people just naturally do. But, as you master the art, it's fun and rewarding. It's hard, but it's exhilarating. As dancers, we get to experience movement in a way that the majority of people never experience.

"I'm thankful for you - a kind teacher!"

That, of course, warmed my heart. :) I strive to teach in a positive way - not yelling or threatening or pushing, but gently encouraging the girls to do their personal best for God's glory. They respond to this encouragement, pressing on even when it's hard. It's rewarding to see them progress, and to see their absolute joy in it.

It's a blessing to not just count them as students, but as friends. They have respect for me, but they aren't afraid of me. Their hugs, smiles, cards, words of encouragement, and the way they dance for the Lord are all very rewarding for me.

Thank you, Lord, for this art of ballet, for allowing me to dance for You, and to pass that joy on to so many girls.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Choreography Complete!

Yesterday I completed the choreography for "The Coming King!" With 5 weeks until the presentation, it's good timing, too! With 17 dances total, it has been a long but fun process.

My solo was the last one I choreographed. I am portraying Mary, and dancing to "You're Here" by Francesca Battistelli. Most of the song I have a baby doll in my arms, and it can be a challenge to try to bring to life the tender love of a mother for her new child, when the child is a stiff doll and you've never been a mother yourself.

I'm no stranger to dancing with baby dolls, though. The picture above is from 2009, when I portrayed the prophetess Anna, dancing with joy with the Savior in her arms.

God truly gave grace and creativity as my solo just flowed out. It's always amazing to see God work in bringing a new dance together. We serve an awesome King!

I must admit, though, at 21 it feels a bit strange to dance around the room with a baby doll, especially if a student or parent happens to be watching. :)

Now, to practice myself, oversee my student's practice, and continue to pray that God uses "The Coming King" for His glory!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Of Bloomers and Bows

Costuming "The Coming King" proved to be a big task, with the increase of students. I also have less time year to work at home on my own this year, so I scheduled a workday last Friday with my oldest class, Ballet IV. A dance mom also saw my post on Facebook about the day, and offered to bring her daughters and come.

Everyone worked hard, and we made great progress. All-in-all, we made 10 angel shirts, 17 sparkly headbands, 8 silver headpieces, 18 scrunchies, 8 bow headbands, 10 lamb headbands, decorated 10 sunglasses, and started 4 slips and 10 bloomers.

The bloomers ended up taking the longest. I was able to work more over the weekend, with my sister helping thread elastic through the waistband and knee ruffles. Tying 20 little pink bows was fun, and hand sewing as I watched movies with the family made the time go quickly.

The ensemble turned out very cute for my little lamb dancers. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fun Ballet Attire (Thursday)

Final day of "Fun ballet attire" for the fall was yesterday!

Ballet IV

Taking two days/week now, they were happy to be able to wear fun ballet again!

The girls got this idea of a pose a while ago, and decided to try it out. They come up with creative ideas and make class fun!

It's a cool class. :)

Actually, they're wearing these glasses for one of their angel dances. I know, angles in sunglasses?? You'll have to come to "The Coming King" to see where it fits. ;)

Ballet I/A with Miss Rachael

I've taught many of these girls since they were 4 or 5, and now at ages 8-10, it's fun to see how they're really improving and growing in ballet this year!

Ballet III

These girls are working hard with the challenges I continue to give them in their dances this year!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fun Ballet Attire (Tuesday)

Four classes on Tuesday came up with fun and creative looks! :)

Ballet II
(one girl was gone)

Basic 2 with Miss Katherine
(My niece Sara was here on fall break, so she came to this class for fun!)

Wee 1 with Miss Miriam
(one girl was gone, and one was visiting from Wee 3)

How much "poof" can you get in one class? :)

Ballet IV

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fun Ballet Attire (Monday)

For class, girls are required to wear black leos & skirts, pink tights & ballet shoes. It helps keep things professional and not distracting.

However, once/semester, we have "fun ballet attire day" and the girls get to dress up for class! It's fun to see what they choose! :)

Wee 3
(one girl was gone)

They all chose something to wear from my supply, and evidently purple and red were the favorite colors of this class!

Basic 1 with Miss Rachael
(one girl was gone)

This class is a challenge, with beginners from age 5 through 11. But, they're doing well and it's fun to see them learning ballet for the first time. My assistants for the class (Rachael and Jubilee switch off each week) are very helpful!

Wee 2 with Miss Anna
(three girls were gone)

At this age, most every little one wants to be a princess and/or ballerina. :) With 10 girls ages 5-6 in the class, they can be a handful (Jubilee/Rachael are again invaluable assistants!) but they're also sweet and exuberant in their enjoyment of dance.

Ballet I/B
(two girls were gone)

This class had a dance party before class, made cookies and crafts (and brought me some!) and got dressed up together. It's fun to see students becoming fast friends with their classmates!

It will be fun to see what the classes come up with on Tuesday and Thursday! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Choreography for "The Coming King"

Preparing for a dance presentation is always a long process. The students enjoy learning their dance, but before I can teach them there's a lot of work to do on my own.

First, finding the right music is essential. It often starts the year before, as all songs I hear that I like after one presentation get put on a list as potentials for the next year. For Christmas presentations such as "The Coming King," I have to be intentional about listening to Christmas music long before the season arrives. This year, I started in April, listening to Christmas music on and off (much to my sister's amusement - there's nothing like hearing "Carol of the Bells" while it's 98 degrees outside!) over the summer. In August I got serious and narrowed the songs down to what I was actually going to use, and chose a name that fit the theme.

Then, I play the songs over and over and over, getting a feel for them, learning them intimately. I listen while I clean, cook, wash dishes, sew - whenever there's a time I can two things at once. As I listen, I get ideas for different steps, formations, or an overall feel for each dance. This makes the choreography process a lot easier.

In the week before classes began, I made the final decisions about which class was dancing to which song(s) and decided what they'd wear. After all, the costume makes a difference in the choreography. If the skirt is full and fun and twirly, for example, that class often does more spins, and different colored costumes play into formations.

Then, I start choreographing. I'm always amazed at the creativity God continues to give. I've choreographed over 100 dances since I started teaching and directing, and yet new ideas continue to flow. Sometimes it's a hard process, and I have to try different things before I find a movement I like. Usually, however, it just flows out naturally. It's fun to see God at work, bringing His story to life through dance.

There are 17 total songs for "The Coming King" and so far I've completed choreography for 12 of them, so the end is in sight! The students are learning their dances well, which is good, since my goal is to have the class dances taught by the parent observation days the first week of November.

I'm really excited about "The Coming King" and the diversity of the dances this time. From cute (Basic 2) angels with wings to older (Ballet IV) angels with fluffy, long tutus and gold/silver streamers, to tiny "mothers" (Wee 3) with baby dolls to "sheep" (Wee 2) and shepherds (a group of 5 men dancing to a hilarious song!), as well as many songs in between, this will be a memorable presentation.

May everything involved - choreography included - bring glory to God in and through "The Coming King!"

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Less aching feet!

The new dance floor has arrived! This year, with the added classes, and the oldest taking twice/week, I decided to invest in a roll-out dance floor. The floor of the fellowship hall where I teach is concrete, which isn't a good surface for dance.

The roll-out floor is reinforced with a foam backing, so while it is still firm, it absorbs the shock for jumps. Plus, I've found my feet ache a whole lot less - after 4 hours of teaching, they use to hurt SO much, but now, while still tired, they don't ache as much.

The girls and I are enjoying a better surface for dance. Thanks to all who donated towards the floor - it is a big investment, but one that I think will be worthwhile.

Wee Ballet 1

Little girls just starting dance are so precious. :) They come in knowing how to dance, and the joy they bring is a lot of fun. Of course, it can be a little harder for them to focus, and our goal is to teach them to dance together, instead of everyone doing their own thing. But, it's always a lot of fun to work with the tiny ballerinas.

This year I have a total of 23 students in "Wee Ballet", resulting in 3 class sections.

Wee Ballet 1, with Miss Miriam

The older girls helping with Wee Ballet 1 & 2 have been invaluable, since they have 8 and 10 students, respectively. With that much enthusiasm and energy, it's a blessing to have an assistant to help keep things organized!