When was the last time…

5 questions for seasoned dancers:

When was the last time..

1 You danced freely? Without concern of others, technique, or feelings?

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2 You danced for no one but God, as your audience & how does that affect your movements?

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3 You danced without thinking about anything, (unrelated thoughts, what move is next, how you are executing a move, or what the audience is thinking), but only about how you feel, how the dance feels, how the music feels, & how your body feels?

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4 You danced without using all your muscles except the ones needed for each present movement?

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5 You danced with the sole purpose of creating great & lovely energy for your audience, whether of one or five hundred?

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*all photos in this post can be found on my Pinterest board, ArtoftheDance.

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God Doesn’t Need Dancers???

I recently read a comment that inflamed me. And I have come to realize that God sometimes moves you through your personal emotions to share with you a type of truth. So after I calmed down, I reflected on the comment, “God does not need any dancers” posted on a YouTube video comment section:

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(I have hidden the author to protect her privacy)

This article is a response to all those who read that comment, and perhaps may be influenced by it, being an artist or considering going into to arts for the King of kings. I also Praise the Great: I AM that I AM, that the commenter is NOT my God, lest I feel unworthy in my craft.

God doesn’t need. Hmmm, well technically, is it true the God has no ‘need’ and therefore doesn’t need anything. He lacks nothing so I believe he supplies His own need, being all-creating or all-sufficient. A Spirit that is need-less, which is another spiritual complex truth,  He has no need.

But in examining the Scriptures, we see the God so LOVED the world that He GAVE His Son….

Wait a second, I thought God doesn’t need….us? But He gave His Son for us, so it appears it’s not a matter of need, but of DESIRE. He WANTED us so He GAVE HIS SON for us.

Maybe it’s just that Scripture, that supports my argument. Let’s see.. He said through Isaiah (45:18) that He CREATED the earth to be INHABITED. Hmmm. There’s another verb again. God doing something for Himself. But it he doesn’t need, then why did He create a world to be inhabited? Dare I say again, He desire to have us….around?

What about these Scriptures that  illuminate more truth about what God commanded the people to do regarding artistry:

Exodus 35:30-35 & 36:1

And Moses said unto the children of Israel, “See, the Lord hath called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur of the tribe of Judah.
And He hath filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, and to devise skillful works, to work in gold and in silver and in brass, and in the cutting of stones to set them, and in carving of wood to make any manner of skillful work. And He hath put in his heart that he may teach, both he and Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. Them hath He filled with wisdom of heart, to work all manner of work of the engraver and of the skilled workman, and of the embroiderer in blue and in purple, in scarlet and in fine linen, and of the weaver —even of those who do any work and of those who devise skillful work.” Then Bezaleel and Aholiab, and every wisehearted man in whom the Lord put wisdom and understanding to know how to work all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary, wrought according to all that the Lord had commanded.

I Chronicles 15:16

And David spoke to the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brethren to be the singers with instruments of music: psalteries and harps and cymbals sounding, by lifting up the voice with joy.

II Chronicles 2: 12-14

Hiram said moreover: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, who hath given to David the king a wise on, endued with prudence and understanding, who might build a house for the Lord and a house for his kingdom.
“And now I have sent a skillful man, endued with understanding, Hiramabi (the son of a woman of the daughters of Dan, and his father was a man of Tyre), skillful to work in gold and in silver, in rass, in iron, in stone, and in timber, in purple, in blue, and in fine linen, and in crimson; also to engrave any manner of ngraving and to figure out every design which shall be put to him, with thy skillful men and with the skillful men of my lord avid thy father.

It appear that God desired artwork in his house/sanctuary, temple/church/etc to for His work.  He needed them for the glorifying it!

Do you read it the same way?

If so, this commenter is either ignorant of God’s Word or blind to God desire. Either way, I pray no one is led to think something UNTRUE about our Father and examines these words carefully for themselves.

Being a dancer, or an artist, or whatever else is NOT something I elected to do. Your purpose in Him, for the edifying of saints is GIVEN to you at birth. I didn’t choose to be a dancer. The Holy Spirit choose dancing for me. (Jeremiah 1:5-7).

Dancers for Christ, our Master,  Adonai! It’s OBVIOUS: GOD apparently NEEDED you in this capacity…please keep dancing for His Glory and be careful to lead people to His throne with your movements, music, & example and not away from it. That is the only purpose you have.

The Best way for Westerners to get used to different Eastern Rhythms

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Listen…

Just listen to the music,

Often…

I like to play various rhythms, such as Beledi, Chiftitelli, Masmoudi, Sayyadii, & Karsilama repeatedly. That’s before I even think about dancing. I get the songs in my soul & simultaneously visualize movements to them. Next I start improvising to the music.

If you only stick to one type of rhythm, such as Beledi, you may be at a lost on how to dance to diverse sounds & timing patterns are played.

Purchase Arabic dance albums with various artists on the tracks, in addition to a single artist’s album. This will give you a wide variety of rhythmic tunes to practice to.

How do you perfect your ears to eastern rhythms?

 

*picture from Pinterest

How to Effectively Mix Dance Styles

We’ve all seen how famous dancers throughout the years visit other countries, come back to their own and blend foreign styles with their traditional ones. Samia Gamal added Latin dance to her Belly dance routines, Denishawn complemented their modern pieces with Indian & Oriental dances, and I like to mix Popping with my Oriental dance…

But how do you blend different styles with it looking like it gels together?

I discovered three main keys to mixing up different dance styles so that it doesn’t look like a dance fit on the floor.
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Match the pace~
Different styles of dance are signified by their specific timing of their movements. If you work with two styles, you will need to slow one down or speed one up and match to other. This makes a nice blend with put side by side.
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Look for coherency~
Try to match songs and dances that intermingle well. Although I don’t see Whacking and Ballet being easily done together in the same routine & tune, I wont be surprise if someone pulls it off. Instead, look for styles that can easily pivot off of one another like Hula & Belly or Tinkling & Indian Classical.

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Listen to song changes~
There are key places in the music of the rhythm that change, especially in middle eastern songs. At this transition would be a good time to switch the dance styles. It will look intentional & cohesive.
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Have you blending any dance styles lately, and if so which ones?

Cross Training for Belly Dance

Why should you cross train?

It’s important that as sensual athletes, we don’t allow ourselves to over use the same muscles or muscles groups. We need to vary our muscle group use, especially if some are often neglected during our training, rehearing, & performing of our dance. It helps us not over extend any muscles and continuously use every muscle our body has. In addition, varying your workouts can also enhance your belly dancing.

What are the best options & why?

You have a slew of options available to you to choose from! You can go skiing, running, rock climbing, & jumping; there is no limit to how you can vary your training. I would suggest to best options for belly dancers are exercises that strengthen your core, give you cardio endurance, and heighten your movements. That could be weight lifting, aerobics, and/or a completely different dance form. These will all give your dancing an edge as you will be able to dance longer without quickly tiring, do amazing things with the seeming imbalancing & gravity defying of your body, because you control it from the core, and improve movement uniqueness because you studied more than one art form.

How should I schedule this?

I believe the optimum plan, in addition to you current belly practices, would be to include cross training twice a week for at least 30 minutes each time. For my own personal cross training, I choose a different music genre, which changes the tempo, & rhythm, which alters my movement patterns. This helps me get an entirely new workout and use other muscle groups at that time.

If you cross train, what do you do, why, & what it your schedule for it?

The Ancient Dance…the first Triple Threat

I believe ancient dances to be more feminine, more flexible, & more spiritually connected than today’s modern dances.

Let me explain:

More Feminine..

All the modern dances created in the past 2000 years ( see my list of dance types ), have elements of masculinity and abnormal gravity defying movements, which again is a masculine trait. Women don’t naturally move in the ways of modern dance, which is why they must be trained in that particular dance.

Hip Hop is aggressively masculine, Jazz is the birth of spunky, &Ballet uses a number of damaging alignments to the body in the appearance of gracefulness. They are all unique and have there place, but they are also a few illustrations of the non-natural femininity in dance.

In ancient times, before and up to the arrival & death of Christ, the way women moved naturally were easily incorporated into their dances, which made learning & doing them easy & simple. Imitation was the teaching method, while the way of observance, the dances remained alive in the culture of those generations.

More Flexible..

It appear we have evidence that all ancient dance incorporated two or more of the following elements:

~the dance itself (lovely body movements)

~props (instruments or other)

~songs sung by singers

Today, many dancers solo dance to or from the music, in which is a great feat, BUT most ancient dancers sung,  & played an instrument when they danced. In addition, their dances were beautiful and use various levels of rhythmic space.

Remember when Miriam danced? She sung & played the tambourine simultaneously. And what about the dancers who praised David & Saul? They chanted as they danced with tabrets &various instruments of music. These women recorded in our history books of Exodus (15:20-21) & I Samuel (18:6-7), were the first triple threats!!

More Spiritually Connected..

Ancient dancers of all races, ethnicities, & nations danced. And when they danced it was often in connection of worship to their deity. For the Israelites, is was/and still is for the Great I AM / the Lord Almighty, the Greeks acted out legends for their gods, the Canaanites danced around their idols & different forces of nature, while the Baal priests wildly & violently danced around their erected alters.

All dancing was consciously connected to worship of a spirit. Although there is only One Spirit, which is the Most High & beside Him there is no other, these diverse people recognized dance as a sacred act of worship to a spirit that they felt were governing their lives. I do not advocate demonic dancing’ dancing to any god except Our Creator, Jehovah. I solely support honoring the dance to the true Lord. Yet, I point out these other ancient dancers to reveal their awareness of the power in dance & their understanding that it should be offered up as a sweet sacrifice to the Lord.

We do not have this vast awareness today. The spirit realm has not lost its knowledge of its power. It perceives each dancer whether their dance belongs to the Holy One or given to the other one ( the enemy ), (see Acts 19:15),even though the average dancer is unaware of it. Many don’t realize they are dancing for some deity that influences their movement, whether it is for the Lord or some idol. If we restore this awareness, but can change our commitment to move for & only for God.

Will you return to the triple threat dancing for God? Or will you continue to allow our precious customs to lie dormant in dusty books unread?

Dance…to Celebrate Men of God

I thought dancing, especially in “the Church” was only for God.

But apparently, that is not so.

At least, not according to the Bible. It’s true. The Bible records many acts of unseemly behavior, but this one seems to be approved by God. Dancing is not only a natural response to celebrating our Lord, but has been used in celebrating men of God too.

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In I Samuel 18:6-7, it states: “…when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, that the women came out of all cities, of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music. And the women answered as they played, and said, Saul hath slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

Wow, women flocked from everywhere to form a LARGE group and started to sing & DANCE with INSTRUMENTS and were filled with joy! Its not a wicked nor evil thing to celebrate men of God!! They even SUNG with the NAMES of the men of God in their chants. This is amazing. It appear that it is not a sin to do this, although it did cause Saul to become jealous of David because they compared him and form David to be greater than him.

In Judges 11:34, it says: “And Jephthah came to Mizpeh, unto his house, and ,behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances; and she was his only child…” This story is actually quite controversial in religious circles, but we will narrow our focus to the celebration portion of it. We see a daughter, celebration, again with instruments and dancing, her father victory in war against their enemies. Jephthah too, was a man of God as you can read in the whole 11th Chapter.

In Matthew 14:6, it shares how the daughter of Herodias, King Herod’s niece danced for him and his guests on his birthday. This please him so greatly, he lost all reason when giving her the freedom to ask for whatever she wanted. This liberty cost him greatly,as it led to the death of our beloved John the Baptist. Yet this passage also shows how dancing itself was an acceptable gift to present before a King, whom was very moved by the dance.

We have at least three illustrations in the Word, of how dancing before men, more exclusively, men of God and men in authority/power was not only allowing but an appropriate response to celebrating the person.

Who do you know that fits these qualifications that you can celebrate through dance?

(photo from tumblr)