Releasing Dance in Children
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 Earth’.
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.