Become the Music!

Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp. For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.  (Psalm 149:3-4 NKJV)

     By now, everyone who is part of the dance ministry or has ever seen dance ministry is familiar with that passage of scripture...but what does it really mean? We know that we are to be prayerful, choose appropriate music for worship, that we are to understand the meaning of the song, and that we are to dance God's Word to let others see a visual message of the Good News of Christ. So, there are a lot of people dancing to the music, but how many have become the music?

     Many times, dancers have beautiful choreography to a beautiful song, and people see the dance, hear the music and miss the entire message that is being given but there is a "disconnect" between the dance and the music, because the dancers are dancing to a song that they really haven't owned, don't know, or may not even like; in other words, they didn't become the music. This could be due to: Time constraints, not being fully committed to the message of the song, focusing more on the technical aspects of the dance than the message of the dance, or many other reasons. In the National Liturgical Dance Network's Online Leadership Class, NLDN Founder Rev. Eyesha Marable stressed this point:

"...Bring the message that is not being dictated by the lyrics. The artist is not to tell the message for you, you have been sent by God to bring a clear message, using their music to complement you. You don’t complement the music, you are the embodiment of the Word, and you are the messenger.  People are not to respond to the great song, but they are to capture the message you are trying to
impart". - NLDN 2008-09 Online Leadership Class

     To fully communicate the message through the dance, you have to know what God wants to say through the music you are dancing to. Even if you have been given choreography, it is still up to you to understand who your audience is, and what the lyrics of the song are actually saying. If you don't have a copy of the song in your music library, you can usually download a track online on any of the music websites (iTunes, Amazon.com, etc.) for 99 cents. Put the music on your computer, iPod, make a CD and play it continually, until you know the song backwards, forwards, and inside out. Listen to all of the instrumentation and every nuance of the music, every word, and every beat. Play it until you can hear the music in your head even when it's not playing. Do you know how advertisers get people to buy their products? They use repetition. Even if the "jingle" they use is annoying, obnoxious, or just plain silly, you never forget that commercial and won't forget the product when you go into the store. It's the same way with the music that you use when you minister in dance. The music was never intended to entirely speak for you, the dance is to speak through the music, and the music is the canvas on which you paint your picture for the audience to see. When the music gets into your heart, you know the message of the song and what it means to you personally, you know the scriptural basis of the message and can identify with it, and then you can become the music.

     There is nothing worse than seeing a dance where the audience responds only to the music, and does not ever receive the message of the dance because of a spiritual "disconnect". Here are some other ways to learn the message of the song:
  • What does the song make you think about?
  • How does the song make you feel?
  • What type of song is it? (Worship, Travail, Deliverance, Warfare, etc.)
  • Without using any of the words/phrases in the song, describe the song's message.
  • What type of person/crowd would this song minister to or touch? (who would be helped by this song)*
    This may be a new concept for some, but it will make the difference between simply dancing to the music, and becoming the music. It takes a lot of time and effort to bring a real message in movement, and not just a dance. Let's Become the Music!

End notes:
~Thanks to Cathy Maduro, NLDN San Antonio (TX) chapter for sharing her beautiful photograph!
* From http://www.n-him.org/ Song Analysis Worksheet

Please enjoy this video by the P4CM Dance Team, dancing to All That I Have to Give by Mali Music:



Dr. Nicholas Alan said...

First of all, Thank you so much for sharing this message in words and then the messag through movement was beautiful!
2nd: This is something I really needed to hear! Everything you said was so right! Love the Quote from Rev. Eye! Through your words I pray to take the ministry of dance God has given me to the next level that I would move and people would understand the messaged bein conveyed! To God be all the Glory!

Poetry of Motion! said...

I'm glad that you enjoyed the article. Thanks for reading and keep dancing for Christ!