Hello! I’m Anna Gilderson a dancer, choreographer and teacher. With a passion for encouraging, growing and releasing others to have fun, be who they are and use their creativity. Dance and movement is at the heart of what I do. It’s an excellent form of communication that crosses boundaries and cultures and talks about things that people may find hard to. I try to cross some of those boundaries in the work that I do. Living Colour Creative is about my desire to develop, share and expand the work I do with uC Grace and my daily life. There are so many times in life where we let things pass us by, rather than realising what’s there! We should be expectant for the things to come, expectant that God will move. My biggest passion is combining my love for dance and movement with my love for faith, challenging people’s journey’s, encouraging them to draw closer to God.
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Ever wondered what we get up to at a Living Colour workshop? Each workshop is individual, and unless we are doing a series, each one will be different to the one before and the one after it. However, there are some general exercises and themes that play an integral part to what Living Colour is and does, that will always be part of a workshop in some way.
Open time of prayer – it’s great to come before God before we start doing anything and lay the session down before him, to pray for those that could not make it, to welcome the Holy Spirit into our dance space, and ask that people are ready to move and respond as God leads them, as well as anything else God lays on our heart.
Time of Sharing – this is about the opportunity to tell others about your journey, what you hope for, would like to learn etc. Which can encourage and challenge others with where they are at personally. As well as verbally sharing where we’re at, it’s also great to share what we explore and choreograph during the workshop.
Praying for Others – all the movements we do, are a prayer, however sometimes its good to specifically bless someone with a prayer through movement. We encourage eyes to be open so you can see and receive the movements and prayer that person is giving you.
Fellowship – wherever possible, there’ll be drink and cakes which we can have a good natter over, offering the chance to really get to know each other.
Choreography/ Technique/ Tips – both as an individual and corporate dancer we want to provide you with skills that you can use to enhance your dancing. We share and pass on, so you in turn can share and pass on.
I’m going to leave you with what we did at the last workshop. Instead of thinking about the sadness/ seriousness of the cross, we wanted to celebrate and comprehend, that what Jesus did for us is AMAZING and even in those darkest moments we need to celebrate the cross. This is ‘The Wondrous Cross’.
would you define creativity? The dictionary explanation of creativity is ‘the
imagination and use of original ideas’. But in dance, particularly associated
with worship and faith, I believe it is much more than that. It’s the
releasing, the growing, the development of dance and movement through various
stimulus’s, and allowing people a safe place to express their emotions in any
way that they want.
Where do you
Many people ask me how I devise my sessions, where I get my
ideas and exercises from, and the simple answer is everywhere! Pretty cliché,
but true, for instance, I was in the car today driving and noticed how much
more autumnal it had suddenly become, leaves were being blown about in the air,
clouds were grey and rain was imminent (pretty normal for this time of year).
However, it was the way that the leaves moved in the air that made me think
about the creation of swirly movements, or being gently carried along, just
like the Holy Spirit.
The hardest bit is always getting your starting point, my
suggestion for this is to brainstorm everything you know about what it is that
you are considering doing your lesson/ workshop on. Whatever niggling feeling
that you may have, but are not sure about, go with it, even if it is as random
as ‘holding hands’. As this may lead you to explore the concept of God holding
us in his hands, always carrying us and protecting us.
Children love association as I mentioned in the post
yesterday, they love to say ‘I’m floating like a fish’ or ‘I’m buzzing like a
bee.’ Stories are perhaps the easiest starting point for devising sessions and
exercises. There is the opportunity to tell the story in the literal sense, or
you can delve deeper into the characters and their feelings, situations and
other themes that come up. Just a small snippet of a story may provide you with
the imagination for the setting of the rest of your time together.
It might be that you want to create a whole session or just
one exercise or series of movements, whatever it is, it is still the same process.
We’ll talk in terms of a ‘session’ but the same applies to an exercise/ series
Generate the idea and the purpose/ aim of the
session, how do you want the ‘story’ to flow
Isolate the time scales and division with the
programme – welcome, warm up/games, exercises, taught movements, improvisation/
creative tasks, round up and cool down (not elements always have to be
Decide whether you want to use props or other
tools to aid the session (see below)
Devise the movements and exercises – learn in a
Use of props/
These are invaluable with children; it keeps them engaged,
explains scenarios and encourages their imagination. So whatever you think ‘could’
be a prop, can be a prop. These are just a few that I use regularly.
Scarfs/ small pieces
of material – butterflies, birds, the wind, hide and seek. These are great
for encouraging big expressive movements. Excellent for any age but
particularly for under 8s who love to just to run and let the scarf or material
flow after them.
Bubbles/ feathers and
all things floaty – brilliant for motor movements for the young ones, they
can catch them and chase them. Also great for demonstrating the motions of
life, the wind, how the light refracts, how the Holy Spirit can move in
Flags/ ribbons –
little ribbons attached to curtain rings work best for under 5s, gives them
something firm to grip onto, whilst for older children there are various size
flags and ribbons/ streamers that work really well. Its good to emphasise that
when using these there is more to moving with them than just waving about, they
should think of them as an extension of their arm, so whatever movements they do
usually can also be done when a flag or ribbon is in their hand. These types of
props are good for children that may not have that much confidence as for them
they feel that they can ‘hide’ behind the flag or ribbon, that that is where
the focus is rather than on them and their body.
pieces material – so much fun! Not only to run under over or around, but to
be wrapped up in, to hide in, to make giant shapes with. It encourages
togetherness, and you can mimic things that smaller pieces of fabric don’t let
you – storms, wind, the cross, a star etc.
Shapes/ spots –
allow focus and attention of the children to be gained easily. I work with a
series of 4 shapes – circle, triangle, square, and splat (a funny squiggly
shape that children today decided looked like a – bone, bow, butterfly, a bird).
These sorts of things are a bit of life saver, they provide an unending amount
of games, can teach children to stand on the spot and in a space, you can
assign specific movements to different shapes, they can be stepping stones, the
basis of a dance and much more.
Finally… get in
There’s nothing like a fully grown adult being excited,
expressive, animated about the story, adventure, or task that the children are
going to delve into. If you’re excited, they’ll be excited, their imaginations
will start going, they’ll feel safe, they’ll start creating, you’ll be sharing
and then you’ll all be dancing!
Watch out for over the coming weeks for a session example of
something you can do for the story of Noah’s Ark and more pictures regarding
resources that you can use both for adults and children.
aged children will have different needs, require different ways of being taught
and will engage in creativity in different ways. Just like you will have your
own personal reasons for investing in children, you will also have your own way
of teaching children. Below are some of the tips and techniques that I've
developed over the years that I’d like to share.
Key things to remember – Know the area you are working in – The
size and how many children it can hold, whether there are any nooks and
crannies they could escape and hide in (it does happen!). Where the toilets are
and how many leaders you would ideally have to assist or lead with you.
Give clear, precise commands – children
respond best by giving them strict boundaries and outlines that they need to
complete their work in. For example – you want them to create two movements, one
that shows when they are happy and one when they are said. So say to them ‘you
have the count of 10 to make your happy position -10, 9, 8, 7…’.
‘Lock it away’ – is phrase I use once I
have either taught something or the children have just made something up and we
are moving onto something else but what we’ve just done needs to remember. We pretend
to take a key and lock the side of our head that
them using eye contact and crouching down to their level if they are shorter
Have a stop signal – really important
in larger groups of under 11 year olds, it needs to be something that they can
either pick up and copy so you know you have their focus. Examples I have used
are – ~Be a star fish in 10, 9, 8, 7… ~ Do a series of claps that they have to mimic
back ~ Raise your hand in the air ~ Count back from a number ~ Freeze
Icebreakers/ Games The idea of the games below (bar the Name
and Action one) is that the children are moving around the space or within a
given area either walking fast/running depending upon which instruction you
have given them; once they have done the action/movement which is needed they
resume their moving. Also to add a bit of competition element to it you could
start eliminating the child who completes the movement/action last – this would
be a judgement call depending on the group.
Name and Action – this works best with the group size being
no more than 10 and if you know that you are going to be seeing the people
periodically that day or in the future. ~ It’s as the name suggests, you go round
the circle and as the child says their name they put an action to it –
preferably a big and expressive one. ~ For example, I would go ‘My name is
Anna’ and at the same time do a big jump in the air, reaching as high as I
could. ~ Everyone would then copy. Once everyone
had had a go and done their action, the idea is then to go round the
circle doing everyone’s names and actions continually, gradually getting
depending how big and expressive the young children's moves are you can use this
as part of a warm up.
Traffic Lights – is as the name suggests; red stop, green
go, amber an additional movement/ transition movement of your choice. ~ Then get fun by adding different
colours in, blue, yellow, purple etc. each one signalling a different way
of travelling; run, hop, skip, jump, forwards/backwards, slowly/fast. ~ Use yours and their imaginations. ~ Can also use it as a game and get
people out who do it last
Numbers – run along the same lines as traffic lights, except these are
movements on the spot as opposed to travelling ones. For example; one could be jump in the
air touch the floor and walk off again, two; turn on the spot, three; find
a partner hold hands (both) facing each other lean out with all their
weight lower to floor without breaking hold and then stand up again, and
four could be sit down on the floor and stand up again. ~ Also try it with the numbers signalling
the size of groups they need to get into. ~ All the time in between movements the children
should constantly be moving around the space.
Piggys Snakes and sharks – this one is just a bit of fun! ~ Piggy’s
= piggy back ~ Snakes
= lie on your belly on the floor and wriggle along and ~ Sharks
= lie on you back with your feet in the air.
Captains Coming – pretty self-explanatory and I’m sure you
Ways of Delivery
demonstrate, demonstrate – the one key word!
Mirroring – teaching children movement
is best done in the mirror, this enables them to always see the movements you
are doing and allows you to see the children and whether you have their focus –
or whether they’re misbehaving. By this I mean learning to teach everything in
the opposite, naturally we teach with the right side leading, but when you
mirror you teach with the left side leading. It’s a bit hard to get the hang
of, but when you can its invaluable.
Chunking – divide the material you
teaching up into manageable chunks - teach a little, practise and reinforce it,
then teach a little more.
Association/ imagery – children will
associate and remember movements much more easily if they know something that
they can remember it alongside. For example, stand tall like a soldier, be
small like a ball, be floppy like a puppet, draw a big sun in the sky etc.
Dance with them – always take the time
to dance with the children, and always dance it to the best of your ability. They’ll
some tips and tricks that skim the surface of interacting with children, but
hopefully they have given you a few ideas. Tomorrow we delve into getting their
Today we are
going to draw upon different Bible verses to help emphasise why and what we
want to teach our children.
yesterday ‘little people’ or children are at their most impressionable when
they are young and haven’t had any other influences, they contain a freedom and
excitement about things that we as adults would not be able to equal.
To invest in
our children should be top of our list, we will all do it for different
reasons, but in the context of uC Grace and Living Colour, there are 3 words
that sum help sum up our thinking – passion, commission, generation.
passionate about children, watching them grow, encouraging them and releasing
them into who they were made to be. That doesn’t mean that they have to be a
prima ballerina or world class contemporary choreographer. It means that they
are encouraged to develop for themselves their own thinking, their own passions,
interests, friends and personality. It’s not about pushing something they don’t
want to do onto them.
Mark 10.13-16 - The
little children and Jesus
… ‘Let the little children come to me,
and do not hinder them, for the
kingdom of God belongs to such as these… And he took the children in his
arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.
choose to invest in children it will be because it’s on your heart to do so,
the Bible talks about not hindering the children when they want to come to
Jesus, but you’ve got to offer them a chance to do that first, choose to bless
is for the children to come to Jesus through dance and movement; dance cuts
across boundaries and cultures and portrays attitudes and beliefs that are
often hard in normal life. It draws upon emotions, experiences, memories and encourages
children to work with these to draw closer to God.
But we have this
passion because we are being obedient to what God has called us to do. In Matthew
28, Jesus gives us The Great Commission to –
… go and make disciples of
all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the
Holy Spirit,20 and teaching them to obey everything
I have commanded you…
To invest in children is to
obey the Commission that Jesus gave us, a child is a disciple of a nation just
as much as an adult, therefore they should be offered the same time, compassion
and energy that an adult does.
We already know that
children pick up impressions and nuances from a young age, so it makes natural
sense that we should be able to offer them to choose, the love, faith and
blessing that Jesus wants us to give them right from when they are little.
There will be some people
who consider that children are not important, that time does not need to be set
aside to work with and provide opportunities for them. But sit and watch a
child dance for God, with no inhibitions, a huge smile and a heart that just
wants to express what they have inside them.
Children are the next generation.
I could just stop there and say nothing more, as that sums it up pretty nicely.
But instead I am going to make reference to the Parable of the Mustard Seed in
Mark 4.30-34. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds on earth, but can
produce one of the biggest plants. When you begin to sow in children, you won’t
know what is being taken and stored, or thrown away. Whether just small remnants
or larger remnants remain, but there will be something there, and taking the
time to impart it to the next generation as soon as possible, means that they
can start doing the same as soon as they are ready.
society, many children come from all sorts of different home situations; dance
and movement will bring out some possible problems and emotions that may
usually stay well under the surface. But it will also provide consistency from
leaders and other children in the group; relationship building is paramount for
children to know that they are in a safe and secure environment.
Why dance and movement?
growth of self-esteem, beliefs, accomplishments and many other skills, releasing them to live their life in a way that they
want too and will be of value to them.
The creative workshops allow an outlet for personal exploration of
movements in a guided and improvised structure, providing the children with the
necessary skills for them to choreograph their own dances, in addition to allowing
emotional, physical and social well-being to be improved.
There is so much that could be spoken about investing in children, and
there are just a few things, but for us here at uC Grace we see the reasons to
invest in children are because we have a Passion to share, have been Commissioned
by God to make disciples of all nations and the NEXT GENERATION IS IMPORTANT, we pass the baton on to them.
Tomorrow we will start to identify more with using dance and movement to
aid this investment, but looking at ways you engage and interact with different
This week’s mini-series is all about releasing dance in
children or ‘dancing with children’ as I mentioned in a brief explanation of
this series last week (you can see that here).
Many of us will have lots of different experiences of this
particular topic, but this week, I just want to literally skim the surface
about the possibilities and benefits of releasing children to dance and move in
worship and for their faith.
I must stress that when it comes to sharing something like
this with children it is really important to come from your own experiences,
history, passion, determination and anything else that may influence how you
set the children you are with to worship and move with their whole heart.
Children are impressionable and therefore whatever you do, or however you act,
they will initially do the same. So always have in mind what role model you are
being to them, including how you dress and how you speak.
Over All the Earth
I was very privileged when I was growing up to be part of a
congregation that encouraged children freedom in movement. There would flags
and streamers, and we would be encouraged to run up and down the aisles as we
felt led. It was in this environment that my heart to move in worship began to
flourish. One of my earliest memories of sharing (or ‘performing’) a worship dance
during church that I had helped create must have been when I was about 8 or 9,
and it was to the song ‘Over All the
My memories are a bit fuzzy as to the details about how the choreography
evolved and who was in the dance; however, one thing that has remained
ingrained has been some of the movements. Whenever that song has some light in
present days then my hands just can’t help to do the movements – with or without
flags. That memory, that action, has stayed with me, makes me smile and
encourages me even now with moving.
Memories in children are so important, it’s how they build
their motor actions, and it’s how they define who they are. If a child has a
bad memory of dance and movement, the likelihood that they will embrace it the
older they get is small (but not impossible).
I was at a cousins wedding earlier this year who had a
little nephew (5 years) that basically ruled the dance floor. The delightful
thing about it was that he let no cares or problems get in the way, he didn't
mind what people said, just danced, and danced with his whole heart! That childlike
freedom to move diminishes the older you get, problems, obstacles, walls,
bridges, anything, gets in the way.
As someone who advocates dance and movement in worship, and
faith, it therefore makes sense to me that we should be sharing this with our
little ones as soon as we can. When you are a child you are at your most
impressionable, your most free and before you get influenced by the world and
everything in it.
We have a duty to pass things on to the next generation. The
memories you have as a child, you choose whether they may hinder or help you to
release dance in children. Whether they are good or bad they can help, good ones provide you with a
knowledge of what you enjoyed, wanted to do again; bad ones highlight to you
how you don’t want children to feel, what you don’t want to do to hinder a
child’s dance or movement.
Before you take the step to teach and release children in
dance you need to have looked at your own memories to see where you have come
from, and then look at your heart to see where you want to go to.
Tomorrow we are going to delve a little further
into the topic of ‘Investing in children’, what the Bible says and why we should
share dance and movement with them from when they are young. The rest of the week we will also be
looking at ‘Interacting with children’, and ‘Igniting children’s creativity’
all in relation to dance and movement, in worship and faith.
We’re nearing the end of the Never Once series and today
we’re focusing on the fact that we never walk alone. How many times have you
been on a path but felt that there was no one around you to support you?
I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I
promised Moses. Joshua 1.3
Our lives are sometimes hard to navigate, there’s ‘the’ path
that we need to go down, but it’s very hard to keep on that. On Friday we did an
exercise that emphasised this fact, how ‘blind’ we can be when we try to walk
the right path alone and how different it feels when there is someone there
One at a time we had to travel across the space in front of
us, with our eyes closed, by only treading on the stepping stones (these were
funky shapes I use when I teach children, more on that next week). The rest of
the group couldn't make contact with the person travelling across the space
until they had seen the person had made a little way across the stones. The idea
was then, that the group would come around them and guide them across the
Now in the group I was in, I offered to go first, I soon realised
I had got completely off track as I ended up by a wall and I knew there were no
stepping stones by a wall, so I then tried to find my way back to stones with
not much success. By this point I must have been roughly ‘half way’ down the
path and the rest of the group should have been already around me and
supporting me. However, they weren't! They were rather enjoying the fact that I
was completely off course and getting quite frustrated, so I think the response
was to take pictures of that fact! When however, the group did come in and
guide me, the feeling of confusion and frustration about where I should be
To navigate those stones on your own and make sure that you
were on them was hard, you are in a losing battle before you've got under way. But
when someone is there to support you, lead you and guide you. You do not have
to worry. That is how God wants to lead us; there are times when our path just
won’t seem to go right, despite the amount of effort that we use to try to make
it right. The only solution therefore is to let God do the leading,
he will find the good and perfect way, but we have to allow him to do that.
This was just a simple way for each of us to identify and
really feel what it’s like when we walk alone, but that’s not what God wants. He
is not a deserter, he is supporter, someone who stays and never leaves.
‘Know that the Lord you God is God; he is the faithful God,
keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him
and keep his commandments.’ Deuteronomy 7.9
So far in the Never Once series we have stood on the
Mountain Top and looked at our testimony, where we have come from and the fact
that God can take us further still. Yesterday was accepting the battlegrounds
that we sometimes have to cross and recognising that God is the one that can
get us through. Today is about recognising that we still need to praise and be
thankful through any battle that is going on, by declaring joy in our hearts.
The third station as it was in the workshop, or third day in
the blog series is all about creating
your own joy dance. But, what’s warranted before we get into this though is
a little discussion about what joy is.
Many of us will perceive joy in different ways, the happy
clappy kind, the steadfast knowing kind, the excited about what’s ahead kind.
It will all resound differently in each of us, I did a quick search on the
internet and came across a blog entry by Kay Warren (wife of Rick Warren who
wrote The Purpose Driven Life) in which she talks about how for her, finding
joy is a challenge because she isn’t naturally an upbeat person, because of
this she decided to explore her thoughts in relation to scripture some more and
she came up with the following definition -
Joy is the settled assurance that God is in
control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately
everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in
A well rounded definition, and one to bear in mind, as we
enter the practical response with this topic today. Now, you don’t have to do
this, but I am all about cementing things practically, hence why today is about
creating your own joy. You’re probably thinking, how on earth do I do that?
well check out some of the hints below and just have a go!
Think about something that is within that wants
to get out, can you catch it
Start, middle, end
Use of different levels – high, medium and low
Travelling – run, slide, gallop, turn, leap, hop
Jumps – on spot, round in circle, over something,
upwards, one, two or changing feet
Eye level/ head focus
Can you remember the battleground movements that you made up
yesterday? Why not try linking those with today’s movements?
TeachingPosted by Anna Tue, September 24, 2013 07:49:52 Part two of the Never Once series encourages us to Kneel on the Battleground. But what does that mean?
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I
have kept the faith.’ 2 Timothy 4.7
In any given day, or week or month, there will always be
some form of battle that we face, some more hard than others, but all ones that
require more energy than usual. We cannot get through a battle on our own; we
need a helper, God. Who, when we are kneeling, can pick us up and help us to
Kneeling can sometimes indicate two things – that we have
given up or that we realise we can’t do it alone. Sometimes when that battle
gets too strong the reaction is to drop, withdraw, give up, go small. I prefer
to consider that when that happens it’s us surrendering and accepting that only
God can get us through the battle field and by kneeling we are giving the
battle to him and asking him to finish it for us.
Think about what battles you have faced or are facing? What has
God done for you or is doing for you? At the workshop, participants wrote down
responses onto a post-it and placed it on a red flag. Jesus’ blood, through Him
he can take everything away.
We need to accept that we have been or are currently going
through battles, but thank God that he was, and is there through them. To really
cement this knowledge, find a space (it doesn't have to be big!) and create a
movement that signifies how you felt or were before the battle got fully under way.
Then create a movement that signifies how you felt or were at the end of the
battle (or where you are now if it’s still going on). Finally look to link the
two movements together with other movements that reflect the journey you have
had in the middle.
This is your battle dance. This is you accepting that you kneel on your
battleground and give the battle to God.