And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Think of the people in your praise team who worship whole-heartedly when they are in front of the congregation. What draws your focus to them, and then to the Lord? It’s probably their body language: their raising of hands, their uplifted face, and their smile or the expression of worship on their face. The use of the upper body, especially the face, is also crucial for dance within a worship context.
How can a face be used effectively to draw people into worshiping our Creator? The face is the most expressive part of the human body; and second to the face are the shoulders. In order to learn how to express yourself through dance, you need to explore wordless communication. Learning how to communicate through expression is an art that dancers must continually attempt to perfect. Here are some tips for enhancing your awareness of expression.
Watch people, paying particular attention to their expressions and their reactions to different life situations. Most of us (all of us, I pray) are on a journey with Christ, our Savior. He guides us and protects us, but, as we all know, that does not make life easy. We may encounter deep valleys, high mountains, dry plains, or babbling brooks. Because of these various situations, we experience a vast array of emotions.
So watch people’s natural reactions to various events. What does someone’s face look like when he or she is in a state of lament, or confession, or praise? What do the hands do? Incorporate those facial expressions and hand movements into your choreography.
Use a Mirror
When learning to employ facial expressions in worship dance, use a mirror. I always tell my dance students to make themselves feel uncomfortable. Smile naturally, yet so big that you feel ridiculous. Open your eyes and look up; if you look down you’ll look like you’re sleeping because your eyelids droop.
Ask the dancers that you work with to do some homework: give them a list of several expressive words or emotions and have them create appropriate facial expressions in front of their mirror at home. This helps them get comfortable with moving their face, and helps them to convey emotion accurately.
Take a Drama Class
Invest in some drama classes. Drama classes enable you to express more freely, and the instructors will tell you how to do so more effectively. It’s important that dancers’ and/or communicators’ emotions come from their hearts. By being more comfortable with expression our hearts will become transparent and others will see our reverence for God.
As we approach the season of Lent and the celebration of Easter, think about the deep emotions tied to those two portions of the liturgical year: the anguish of Good Friday followed by the joy of the resurrection. We can wake up on Easter morning rejoicing in our risen Lord. So don’t hold back—show on your face that you are bursting with happiness and joy!