dance

“Let me see those pearly whites!”

Here is the result of my backdrop dying project, shown in my previous post.  These photos were taken on recital day while the girls were fresh, excited, and for the most part all happy to pose with their prettiest smile!  We didn’t have enough chiffon to blend in the floor colors, but all in all I was pretty happy with the result.  The seam down the middle is visible, but no one was expecting a professional backdrop and it got the job done.

 

46 blessings…

Spontaneous hugs… chubby smiles looking up at me… little voices calling “Miss Jennifer!”.  These are just a few of the visible blessings that my past week was filled with.  Only 5 1/2 years ago I started teaching a small group of girls in my small town studio.  About three years ago I began teaching classes in Omaha.  Our first recital in the “big city” included 17 dancers, the next year grew to 37, and this year I was privileged to be “Miss Jennifer” to 46 girls ages 4-16.  As my studio (and hopefully knowledge!) continues to expand I am just so amazed that God has brought me to this place of role model and teacher.

 

Recitals no doubt come with their share of stress and chaos.  If it’s not dealing with a heart-stopping call about facility issues, it means trying to get a costume out of a shut locker, soothing pre-performance tears, or dealing with last minute costume confusion.  And while I only spent about 11 hours in class each week leading up to recital, time on the road driving to classes came to 6 hours a week, and once you add in 57 hours in the studio choreographing dances plus all the preparatory work on those million little details… recital season is definitely a full time investment and demanding project.

 

Then in one evening, after 5 months of rehearsing and planning and ordering and measuring and calling and driving and printing and choreographing and emailing, it’s all over.  An hour long performance and the year is already over. Will the audience remember it all?  Was it worth it?  If I had a horizontal perspective I would hesitate to pour such energy and work into something that ends so suddenly.  But the exciting part about all this is that though the audience may only see a sparkly costume and just another dance to Tchaikovksy, the dancer sees months of teamwork, challenge, fun, and by God’s grace hopefully spiritual growth as well.

 

Am I, at nearly 21 years of age, really wise enough and mature enough to be entrusted with 46 pairs of eyes watching me and ears listening to me?  I would venture to say “no”, if it were not for God’s grace and holy spirit working through me. What an honor, what a delight to have so many blessings to call my own!  What a thrill to see my students with heads bowed in the wings before they go on stage, or to lead all 46 of my girls in prayer on their knees before the program.  The actual performance lasts such a short time, but by God’s grace the impact can last for eternity.

 

Photo credit: Rachel Uleman

My life (until June 10th)

May I have this dance?

I love to dance. I’ve been teaching classical ballet for over 4 years, and since I have been forced to discontinue taking ballet on a higher level myself, it’s no surprise that I enjoy all kinds of motion put to music! So when my sister and I were treated to a night of English Country Dancing at a Reformation Faire, we immediately fell in love with the style, grace and beauty of it.

Since we are such gracious and considerate individuals, we knew we just had to share this kind of family-friendly social interaction with our local community. Thus, since December we have been teaching monthly English Country Dancing to anyone with a hankering to relive the Jane Austen days.

We have learned a lot through our teaching (let me tell you, instructing little girls in ballet is vastly different than trying to direct 50 grown men and women in pair dancing). We have learned that any height difference between 2-4 feet makes dancing with one’s partner pretty awkward, that calling out can be just as physically taxing as actually dancing, and that men are vastly different from women!

Allow me to expand on that latter notion. Men and women tend to have dramatically different outlooks on life. A man will shop only if his life depends on it (in my Dad’s case, it would be Menards to pick up some roasted peanuts) and a woman will shop sometimes simply for the joy of checking out new styles and trends… even when she doesn’t need anything! The fairer sex will sigh, sob and giggle at all the appropriate moments in “Pride and Prejudice” while “I Am Legend” might have been the choice of the 15 year-old male. When it comes to dancing, the outlook tends to be the same. While it may not be a general rule that men abhor dancing, the sport is also not known to be an immediate favorite of theirs.

And this, my dear audience, is where the gentlemen enter. Whether some noble knights fear rejection, or mistakes, or simply the close proximity of a 2 foot distance from a female, it appears that men take a radically different approach to dancing than women. However, when the hesitancy is pushed aside, the boldness acquired, and the hand offered, a knight is born and a lady is rescued.

I have 5 brothers and I still do not profess to know males. But I am thankful for the differences the Lord gave us; that men can be tough and masculine, and women can be gentle and feminine. Dancing may not be a life or death issue, but biblical manhood and womanhood is. We risk the death of nations when men forsake their duties and women abandon their homes, and even worse when we throw off the word of God calling us to live our lives according to His purpose.

When women dress beautifully and step gracefully, it’s a lovely thing indeed. When men take the initiative and ask a lady to dance, it’s a very chivalrous act to behold! And when men and women shake off the shackles of the culture to pursue their roles with purity and honor, well… that is when the music really starts!

Howdy ya’ll!

Wow. The three weeks I’ve been gone seems to have been three months! I flew home from Alabama yesterday after spending some awesome times with friends. First of all I…

Spent a week with my twin Anna at her home, many thanks to the generous hospitality of her and her family! We talked, dressed up, cooked, cleaned, and sewed matching patriotic skirts… which confused people to no end when we attempted to explain that we weren’t really twins… and actually live in different States!

Then we drove to Jackson, Mississippi to dance for two weeks with the Christian dance company called Ballet Magnificat!. Anna and I, thankfully, were roommates and also shared the same level. Our daily classes included (varied on different days) ballet technique, modern, jazz, conditioning (this class made me think about Marines boot camp…), improvisation, pointe and variations. Dancing all day is no doubt a challenge and sometimes a test of character, but I was very impressed with what I saw in Ballet Magnficat!. Besides learning so many things in dance technique and styles, I was for the first time exposed to a Christian intensive environment and enjoyed it thoroughly! I was grateful for a glimpse of more charismatic worship and the close relationships with the other students, and was noticing some pivotal changes in my worship of God towards the end. It truly is a powerful thing when 200 young Christian teens come together in a powerful union of praise and worship. It was an awesome two weeks and I learned so much.

I would like to thank my good friend and “twin” Anna for allowing me to go to camp and spend such an awesome time together, and celebrating our 17th with me! I have been so blessed by our friendship…

I would like to thank my wonderful family for encouraging me to pursue my dreams and for putting up with so much while I was gone! I’m so glad to be home with them.

Most of all I would like to thank my Lord and Savior for being constant even when I failed time and time again, and for gently and surely leading me through life. We serve such an awesome God! To Him be all the praise and all the glory…

I love Nebraska!!!

Absence…

I’m afraid that my busy schedule (which always seems to get busier as life goes on…) has held me back from posting lately as often as I would like, BUT I am not saying goodbye! I am just taking a three week vacation of dancing in Alabama and Mississippi, to hopefully be back ready to post many thought provoking arguments. (My sister Emily will be manning the blog while I am gone, hopefully giving you some things to chew on!) Until then, I pray that you my readers would have a blessed Independence Day remembering the sacrifice of our soldiers to secure our earthly freedom, but most importantly the sacrifice of our Savior to insure our eternal, spiritual freedom. To God be all the glory and honor and power!

Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you. All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.’ Selah

Come and see what God has done; he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him, who rules by his might forever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations…”

Psalm 66:1-7

Remember our troops and their families this 4th of July…

Why I dance…

I like to dance. I love to dance. I have danced ballet for two and a half years, and have taken pointe for six months. As a little girl I would twirl around and dance to any music (preferably the Nutcracker) that came on. One of the many things I appreciate in my parents is they didn’t just throw me in a ballet class when I was three just because that’s what cute little girls do; they waited until I was old enough to make my own choice and let me find out what my passion was and how I wanted to use it.

This has really strengthened my love for ballet and even though waiting may have been hard sometimes I really appreciate it now. I like the line in the song “untitled hymn” by Chris Rice where he sings “and when the love spills over, music fills the night, when you can’t contain your joy inside; dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus, dance for Jesus”. God has given me this temple, my body, and I love to be able to express myself and my love for Him with it! You may wonder why I am talking about dance all of a sudden… it snowed here and is very icy so dance class is cancelled. I had to talk to someone…

Dancing for Jesus!

Jennifer