Let's Do it...Well!

I recently had the opportunity to attend a Spoken Word presentation at Da' Poetry Lounge and one of the artists did a performance that I will never forget. I didn't agree with his content, what he stood for or believed, but I had the greatest respect for his boldness. He made no apologies for who he was, and how he saw the world, and he had everyone's attention. There was complete silence in the room because of his uncomprising stance and strong presence that shook the theatre. We could have all gone home after that! Even when he left the stage, he left in so much power that the next performer had to admit that he was a hard act to follow, and had to collect himself before he started his poem.

     We should never make excuses when we present a piece of work to an audience, whether it is in song, dance, music or words. Making statements like "Please bear with me while I attempt this song", or describing the challenges you had before coming onstage gives people an excuse not to listen to you. Think of this:  If you went to someone's home for dinner, and they told you that the dish they prepared really wasn't that good, would you really want to eat it? You might try it just to be polite, but in the back of your mind you would probably be wondering exactly what happened in the kitchen before you arrived and wouldn't want to eat much of it.

      In Poetri Smith's Spoken Funk Workshop, he always says: "No excuses,  no red flags, and no holding back". A red flag is calling attention to a mistake. If you are a soloist and forget a line, a step or part of a song, make something up! If you are really prepared and something goes wrong (with the music, the sound system or something completely out of your control) the audience will never know. Holding back deprives you and your audience of whatever experience you were supposed to have together when you went before them. As ministers of God, we are to present our best (just as He did), and not just do something for form or fashion. So, now that we know what to do, let's do it...well!


Is This What They Really See?

     I recently watched a YouTube video in which a man stated that there were only five basic moves in Praise Dance, as he proceeded to demonstrate each one. This was meant as comedy, but the truth is, what he was doing was showing what many people see and laugh at when they see dance done without thought or preparation. He was making a parody of  moves that he called  "the flutter kick", " the dog paddle", "pulling down the rain", "frustration and running for cover" and "running around".
     I don't know this man's heart or intention, so I cannot judge him. But, we must admit that we have all seen these same types of dance movements done badly over and over again, mostly by dancers who repeat what they see others doing because they are not willing to take the time and effort to learn how to move clearly. The result is a dance that looks comical. On a side note:  In my own experience I have seen dancers wearing gloves that are too big for their hands, so that the gloves flop around like a duck's bill.  There are only a few instances that gloves are appropriate for dance ( I am not referring mime, or mime dance), and if they are worn at all, they should fit properly and be worn with shoes to complete the look. Wearing gloves with bare feet really doesn't make sense! These are the types of mistakes that give people like this man something to make fun of. Now I agree that the scoffers and mockers never need an excuse for their behavior, but why make it easy for them? If we are studying to do it the right way, they will lose their audience soon enough.

     If our movement vocabulary is limited, then we need to look for opportunities to expand and increase it. Every weekend, someone somewhere is hosting low or no-cost dance ministry workshops -- so there are very few excuses to not attend. Even if our budgets cannot accomodate classes at a professional studio, we can take advantage of classes offered by the Recreation and Parks department, or the local Y. Commuinity Colleges offer classes in a variety of dance styles from professional instructors twice a week per semester at reasonable prices. At some colleges, free tickets to see at least one major dance company perform are included because attending staged perfomances is a class requirement. It is worth the sacrifice of time and finances to make our ministries the best they can become. The Bible says in Matt. 22:14 that "Many are called, but few are chosen", meaning that there are many people who God has called into the movement ministry, but only the ones who prepare themselves to be all they can possibly be to represent Him well will be chosen. People will always make a mockery of what they don't understand, but we never have to give them a reason to do it. The challenge is: How much are you willing to invest in your ministry so that it will not be laughing stock? It's time to get busy!