A Graceful Maiden's Memoir

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song!" - Psalm 28:7

Thursday, June 08, 2006

My Dancing Story

Recently I got an email from a fellow dancer, Ashley, who came across my blog. In it she asked, “Why do you want to dance? ... I'd love to hear your story!” It suddenly struck me that I had never written down my dancing story in its entirety. So here it is. Enjoy!

I've been dancing all my life, even before I was born. You see, while I was in my mother's womb, she danced at church. So, in a way, I danced as she danced, even before I came into this world!

Maybe my mother knew that I would grow up to dance, for when I was born, she named me Anna, meaning one of grace, or graceful one. God in His greatness even gave me a name befitting a dancer, and I have tried to ever be His graceful one.

As a little girl, it was natural for me to dance, and I was always dancing! I would dance around the house, and my mom would get me to run errands for her by saying things like, “Here, go dance this to the kitchen!” Cheerfully, I would do as bid, and go happily dancing on my way.

When I was around 5 or 6, I, along with my older sister Lydia, became a part of a worship dance group in Montgomery. Along with a bunch of other girls, we learned simple movements and sign language to Christian music. We got to wear full, twirly, white dresses, and I had a wonderful time praising God with dance! My heart's desire was to do ballet, but Mom wisely wanted to wait a find a good Christian teacher to take from. It wasn't classical ballet, but I think the worship dance group helped prepare me somewhat for the beginnings of ballet.

When I was about 8, mom, along with a friend, started the Lion and Lamb Worship Company in Prattville. Lydia, Elijah, and I were all a part of it. We mostly signed, but the girls did a few simple dance moves, still in our white, twirly dresses. As I got older I longed more and more for ballet lessons, but for the time, they weren't to be. I lapped up all the information I could get about ballet however! Our family had a Ballet Magnificat! video which Jubilee and I watched over and over. We would often dance around our living room while watching, trying to do exactly what the dancers on the video did! Mom says that it was one of the only videos she allowed us to watch, so is it any wonder that I turned out the way I did? :-) We sure did wear out the Ballet Magnificat! Symphony of Movement tape!

Whenever someone would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up, my answer would be the same. “I want to major in ballet at Belhaven College and then dance with Ballet Magnificat!” I would declare. Lofty goals indeed, but in order to do so, I would need ballet lessons...

The summer I turned 11, we finally found a Christian praise dance teacher. I began to take lessons from Danette Ellis. Jubilee took as well, but after a few years decided that ballet just wasn't her thing! In dance class, we still did a lot of signing, but we also got to do quite a few “real” ballet moves, and it was so fun! I still take from Mrs. Danette to this day. I have learned a lot from her, and she has instilled in me ever more a love of praising God with dance.

The fall after I turned 13, I started pointe. To go to a Ballet Magnficat! Summer Intensive, one needed “at least a year of pointe.” To go to a Ballet Magnificat! camp had been my goal ever since I started dance lessons, and I wanted to make sure that I reached it! The studio in which Mrs. Danette taught, Tonya Speed's Dance Connection, was able to arrange pointe lessons from a ballet major at Huntington College. A friend from praise dance and I took the classes with some other students at Tonya's, but we had a really hard time. We were taking classes with other girls who had been on pointe before, and who had more extensive ballet training. The teacher was also very fast at showing the different combinations, and it was hard to keep up. I stuck with it however, although at times it was tear-jerking.

After Christmas holidays of the same year, I began pointe classes at Lisa's Dance Dimensions. It was a little easier to keep up in class, and I learned a whole lot. I've gone on to take 2 more years of pointe classes from them, and have learned a lot more of the technicalities of classical ballet.

I now take ballet classes twice a week, one praise dance and the other pointe. Oftentimes I have wanted to take more classes, but have not wanted to take from places where I would have to wear revealing costumes. I've thought that I would enjoy daily classes, yet would miss all the time I have to pursue other things and serve my family. So for now, I have stuck with twice-a-week classes, and have tried to work some on my own, using the Ballet Magnificat! Conditioning and Ballet Class DVDs.

This summer one of my dreams will come true. I will be able to attend the Ballet Magnficat! Summer Intensive this July. I have fulfilled the requirements, having 5 instead of 4 minimum years of ballet, and 3 instead of 1 minimum years of pointe. I will be required to dance 4-5 hours day, which I'm sure ill be quite challenging! Yet I look forward to seeing if I am able to keep up, and hope to learn a bunch of ballet!

I'm no longer so definitely sure about majoring in ballet. I don't think that I'd be able to dance professionally with Ballet Magnificat!, and I'm not so sure that I'd want to. Touring may be fun, but more that that I would love to be able to teach other girls ho to praise God with dance. I want to be able to provide Classical ballet lessons with God-honoring music, moves, and costumes. I want to be able to instill in other girls the love of worshiping God with the beautiful art of ballet.

Next year I hope to be able to do just that. Lord willing, I will teach The King's Praise Ballet to girls around here. And most of all, I hope and pray that I will will be a good teacher, honoring God in all I do, and leading other girls to gracefully glorify God, using dance.

7 Comments:

  • At 2:20 PM, June 08, 2006, Anonymous miriamhart said…

    How wonderful, Anna! You have really been so blessed! I hope you fulfill what your heart and God is leading you to do.

     
  • At 4:12 PM, June 08, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's me (ashley!)! Thanks for posting that! Could you pray that I can get into pointe by next summer! I really want to go to ballet mag by next summer (God willing) ! My great Aunt knew I was going to be a dancer, she was the one that taught me all the frist steps! Please pray for her. She is a lost soul, and I don't know wear she is! I'd love to tell her of God's plan for my life and tell her of Jesus love for her!

     
  • At 8:10 AM, June 09, 2006, Blogger Anna Naomi said…

    I'll be praying. Glad you stoppd by again!

    Thanks Miriam!

     
  • At 9:00 AM, June 09, 2006, Blogger Jessica said…

    As a fellow dancer, that was fun to read...thank you for sharing! Your "What do you want to do when you grow up?" sounds very much like what my answer was at your age (that makes me sound so OLD!)...major in dance at Belhaven and then move on to Ballet Mag...funny! I hope the intensive goes well for you in July...I'd love to hear all about it when you get back!

     
  • At 9:06 PM, June 11, 2006, Blogger Kimi Harris said…

    Ballet is truly beautiful. I always wanted to learn, but God never really opened the doors for me (I often think that I will get to learn in heaven : ) How fun that would be! To be able to worship Him with dance in a perfect world!). My mother in law was a professional ballerina and has taught ballet in different periods of her life. There is also a girl in our church, now married with a new baby, that opened a very sucessful Christian ballet studio. So many of the girls in our church loved to be in a studio that sought to honor God with their dance. Thank you for sharing your story!

     
  • At 2:34 PM, June 13, 2006, Blogger Anna Naomi said…

    Kimi and Jessica, thanks for your comments! Yes, it would be so fun to glorify God with dance in heaven, then maybe we'd never make mistakes! :-)

    Jessica, when did you figure out that you didn't want to dance professionally?

     
  • At 7:07 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Kelsa said…

    Wow, what an inspiring story! I took ballet from the time I was 2 until 6. But I decided to quit, and now I often regret that choice! I often long to take ballet and to glorify God through such beautiful dance, but I don't have a dancers body :(

    Congratulations on getting to go to the dance camp of your dreams!

     

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