Dance and love are two universal languages that cross barriers of gender, religion, social status, and color. While in Bethlehem, I was blessed with the opportunity to teach a dance class to a wonderful group of students at Diyar Dance Theater. As I prepared, I made sure I had all the right terms for the techniques I’d teach, and even tried to put together a short choreography piece to no avail. So to say the least, I was a bit flustered, because in addition to feeling totally unprepared I love to be able to have some sort of control over the environment I’m entering. However at that point, I had absolutely no idea what to expect and unprepared would be an understatement of what I believed to be the position I was in.
Prior to coming on the trip, dance didn’t fall within the scope of “things to do.” It wasn’t until Tuesday that I was asked to teach a class on Thursday. So you can just imagine the millions of thoughts that were running around in my mind. But three things I knew for sure: (1) I had rhythm and could dance well enough to teach a two step, (2) that God allowed me to be placed in that environment because I have such a love and passion for dance and people, (3) Holy Spirit was definitely going to have to intervene and take over due to the different language and possible cultural barriers I’d possibly encounter, and (4) I was all in.
Once at Diyar, I met with the students, who ranged in age from 13 to 17, and did a little probing. It was then I found out that these children didn’t just dance but they performed traditional Palestinian style dance. So of course, at that point, I began to question my ability and if God even really wanted me to do this. But I kept my cool, because by this time there was no turning back. It is in these moments we learn to trust Him more. So I had no other choice but to practice what I preach…. Go into my, “Jesus you’re going to have to do this,” mode because I really don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.
You never think God will bring you to an uncomfortable place in your element, but it is there where He wants to become Lord. So in that moment I took a step back and allowed Holy Spirit to take a step forward. And as they say, the rest is history. Holy Spirit gave me instruction on how to teach and engage these children while at the same time allowing me to love on them, build them up and hone their skills and technique.
What we learned was that we actually had more in common than we had differences. With tons of love, encouragement, and a mutual love for dance we hit the ground running. My partner Chuck started us off with a great time of stretching, and then Angela, Chuck and Dan supported and gave the students a nice little laugh by getting into the groove with us from time to time.
I ended the class a bit early so that the students could teach me some of their traditional Palestinian dance. They were as excited to teach as I was to learn. Some were even surprised to see that I wanted to be taught and learn from them. Engaging others is never effective if it is only one sided. No matter how accomplished your are, how many degrees you have, or how old you are, you are never too BIG to learn from another. It also shows others that you love and care enough about them to come out of your own little world to get immersed in their world. To my surprise, I ended up being taught by a group that traveled Germany for 40 days performing their authentic Palestinian dance! LOVE and DANCE…. Two very simple words, yet you can touch worlds with Jesus when you use them.