Engaging Youth in Sacred Dance

Before you even take your first dance step with the youth, there are lots of things to think about. The first is this:

Never underestimate the power of dance

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Credit: http://instagram.com/sacreddanceguild

& never underestimate the youth!

It is amazing to see how dance can affect our lives in so many ways, and it is especially awe-inspiring to see how dance affects the youth. But please also be open to the many ways the youth themselves can inspire us. There is a powerful exchange of spirit and energy when working with the youth.

WHY DO YOU WANT TO ENGAGE YOUTH IN SACRED DANCE?

Think about why you want to engage youth in sacred dance. Is it to move them spiritually or to keep them coming to church? Is it because you want them to become church leaders in the future or do you see them as church leaders in the present? There are no specific “right” or even “wrong” reasons to engage youth in sacred dance. However, these questions are meant to help you think of your greater purpose for engaging youth in sacred dance.

ARE YOU READY TO LEAD THE YOUTH SPIRITUALLY?

Especially if you consider sacred dance as prayer, you must look at your own prayer life and nurture it first. This is not to say that you have to be at a level of spirituality that is far beyond reach and give off a “holier than thou” feeling. This means taking care of yourself spiritually and being at a level which you are most comfortable and confident with in order to help lead others spiritually. Renew yourself and ready yourself to lead the way.

Flashmob at New York Catholic Youth Day 2015

RUNNING A DANCE MINISTRY

If you have not started a dance ministry, take a look at this resource here >>HOW TO START A DANCE MINISTRY

While it is best to have a dance ministry in place, starting one from scratch while simultaneously involving youth participation is not hard to do.

VISIBILITY & OPPORTUNITY

Keep in mind these two important concepts: visibility and opportunity. Visibility allows the youth to see what sacred dance is; opportunity allows them to participate in sacred dance. Exposing the youth to sacred dance and giving them valuable experiences to present will definitely increase interest and participation.

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The Moving Prayer with Nueva Uncion, Idente Missionaries, and All is Love Media at The Encounter NYC

VISIBILITY: INITIATE AS SPECTATOR

A lot of youth have not seen any sacred dance, so how do we wish to have them participate if they don’t know what it is? Here are some ways we can initiate the youth as spectator:

  • FIRST IMPRESSIONS: What you’re wearing is often the first thing they see, so set out to make a good first impression!
  • PERFORMANCE: A short performance before teaching gives them a chance to see sacred dance and allows them to see your style of sacred dance in particular. This also teaches that seeing sacred dance is just as powerful as dancing sacred dance.
TIP: Usually youth are more interested in joining if they know other people their age are doing it. Showcase other youth already involved in your sacred dance ministry or show them videos. Check out videos in the sidebar, in PERFORMANCES, or in SPECIAL PROJECTS.

OPPORTUNITY: INVITE AS PARTICIPANT

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Liturgical Dancers at the National “Preaching in Action” College Conference, a program of Dominican Youth Movement – USA

This does not only mean in performance but also in workshops or classes. The following are some ideas as to how to invite the youth to dance:

  • Breathing meditations and relaxation techniques
    • Guided movement meditation
TIP: Each group and even each individual is different both in dance skill and spiritual level. Experiment with what works best.
  • Circle dances
  • “Play”
  • Free dance
TIP: The youth LOVE music and are always moved by it! Check out some great songs to attract the youth to sacred dance in the sidebar or in MUSIC.
  • Leadership roles for advanced students
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Daughters of Mary, St. Aloysius, Bronx, NY

IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • Sacred dance is a prayer. We are dancing for God.
  • God does not expect perfection, and neither should we.
  • However, do your best, as each moment of doing your absolute best brings you closer to God.
  • And for our leaders: Working with youth is not easy. Following these tips and ideas will not transform your ministry overnight but they will plant the seeds. If you nurture these young seeds, by continuously nurturing their minds, bodies, and spirits, the interest will grow. And perhaps some will even FIND THEIR CALLING.