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. :)