I'm a dancer.
I've danced nearly my entire life. I don't even remember when I wanted to become a dancer - but it was early enough that I don't remember, it just was. I've heard I picked my own CB handle when I was a wee tot. I was to be called "Dancing Girl" over the airwaves. This was before I began dancing. I was maybe all of 2 or 3 when that happened.
I began dancing at the age of 4. And I haven't stopped since.
I dance everywhere!
I dance in the car.
I dance in the kitchen.
I dance at the table.
I dance in the stores.
I dance when there's music.
I dance when there's no music.
But, with all of my background in taking & teaching dance, it's kind of become part of my own personal ministry.
I actually wanted to have my own dance studio. The very day I went to look at a space to rent, I got home to have my hubby tell me we had enough in place to buy a house. Both dreams laid out at once, but only one could happen - so we bought a house. And my studio dreams had to be put on hold for this moment.
I do believe God led me to dance so I could use my given gifts to turn it around to use for worship & praise. So I started doing liturgical dance many moons ago.
Slowly I have been working on my craft of storytelling. And, in this, using dance as storytelling - brining a song to life! Making each word &/or phrase into movement so it can be seen. Almost like sign language, but with the entire body instead of just hands & arms, and using the entire front of, or even the whole of, the sanctuary to fill the space with movement & story.
That's what I do. Instead of having a dance studio, I have a dance ministry!
I do want my dance friends to know that disappointment may come my direction when you know I've lost much of my terminology. I'm SO sorry! Please don't disown me. But I've been showing others how to move to tell a story, but using laymen's terms to help guide them. No matter, I'm trying to get people to move in story & praise, yo!
I love what I do, and I love when a story comes together - there's times it's even better than I originally pictured it in my head.
Right before I tell my story, as any presenter/performer should do, I get a bit nervous. How will the people react? Will they understand what I do? Will they grasp the story I'm wanting to tell?
I pray that The Word is received as I tell it, and I go do my thing.
Every time, I try to put my all into it. Where my eyes look, what my face says, where my hand placement is, where my foot is placed...everything. I do it to get the word across, I do it in praise, I do it in worship, I do it to bring a new facet to how The Word can be received.
Much like speaking of my mental illness, I do not do it for attention. If folks enjoy it, and, even better, understand it - then awesome! If not, that's fine.
Here's where it gets weird for me:
Once I get a dance together, I want to be confident in my storytelling; I go out and do it with confidence! It's part of my passion, so I love doing it! But there's that stupid little voice in the back of my brain that makes me question.
I have been in churches with so much talent! Some with bigger pools of talent & backgrounds than I even feel like I could possibly dip my toe into. How could I be in that same group?
Because of what I do, even though I continue to challenge myself & others, I actually try to keep my routine formula fairly simple. I repeat a LOT! Why? Why do I do this? When there's competitive groups out there, or if you watch "So You Think You Can Dance" (that show keeps me inspired), you will see there's a lot of steps that go on during a dance. Really no repeating of anything - just a lot of challenging stuff.
Sometimes, as a storyteller who dances, I see many of the extra moves as "stuff."
I want each step &/or phrase to have a move. When I teach a dance to beginners (no matter the age), I want them to feel accomplished & like they know what is coming next. Once I come up with moves for the song's chorus, about a third of the dance is already done! BOOM!
But there's something else that comes with that:
When there's those who are experiencing this for the first time, or who take a while to settle into this style, they start to understand the story.
Now, here's where my confidence collides with my self-doubt:
Because I don't want attention from my storytelling, I cringe (on the inside) when I have people track me down to tell me they enjoyed it or to thank me. My insides just ball up as I fake a smile to try to say, "Thank you," back to them. It seems like such a frivolous & token gesture for something I hope had grander meaning. Sometimes I'll throw in the extra tag of, "...just doing what I was called to do." Then I give an awkward laugh afterward while I'm nearly crying inside.
I know these folks mean well, but it's not about me. At. All.
On top of that, I don't know how to handle being approached by those swimming over to me from the deep end of the talent pool. In our current church, we have some in our contemporary band who are professional actors in the Kansas City area. Like, all music-y & stuff, too! They amaze me with what they do, and what they bring. Sometimes, with the simplicity-for-comprehension dances, I wonder if they look at what I'm doing & thinking, "Really? This is all she has to offer?" I've been in musicals & competitive routines where we are all over the place & doing so many different things. This is the kind of thing these folks make a living around. And here I am, just offering up some moves to tell a story. More than likely in much more simple terms than they are used to.
So what the heck am I doing?
My insides curl up in fetal position when any of them come & hug me to tell me they love what I did. I know it's sincere - but that brain of mine can't help but believe it's for show. Much like my smile as I attempt to accept the compliment.
I don't do this for me. I do it for The Greater. I do it to share The Word in a different way. It's NOT about me!
But it becomes worth it when I hear that others would now love to join in the storytelling. That's a relief, actually.
Also, I think one of the most amazing compliments was when a woman approached me after me unveiling my dance ministry to our current church. While my insides are in fetal position, and I'm faking smiles & trying not to be awkward with responses, she told me this:
"['My Story'*] was my mother's favorite song. I never understood why. Until today - after watching your dance, I understand now."
* "My Story" by Big Daddy Weave includes part of the hymn "This Is My Story"
WOW! It's the comments like that which remind me it's OK to do what I do. It doesn't matter who's watching - if I'm doing it in praise & worship, while bringing The Word to life, then someone just might get it!
And I really need to remember I'm doing it for an audience of One - everyone else are just spectators.
But, if you are spectating, just know why I'm awkward later. I'm weird like that.
God Bless, AM~Erica