Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine’s Day Special: Relationships, Marriage and Dance (Part 2)

We’ve talked a bit about how the married ladies are making it work in love, life, and dance. What about the single ladies?
On Dancing
Though many bemoan their single relationship status, being single as a dancer definitely has its advantages as well. Senior company member Emily moved to Houston specifically to dance with Ad Deum, and she is one of many company members who has done so.
She said, “I love the freedom I have as a single person to make my own decisions. Dance presents so many opportunities to work with different dance companies or travel the world and being single gives me the freedom to take advantage of each opportunity that comes my way without having the complication of factoring another person into decisions.”
For Shannon, who also moved to Houston to dance with the company, being single gives her a “sense of boldness” to pursue different opportunities like moving cross-country, explaining that “the challenge of coordinating another person’s life and goals could become a deterrent to exploring various opportunities.”
On Time and Busy Schedules
While being single as a dancer may seem easier and more natural -- since most start dancing as young kids who are, well, single -- the balance between the comfort found in being single and the desire to be in a relationship headed toward marriage can be a hard one. How do you find time to pursue a relationship with someone while maintaining a busy schedule? Does that relationship have to signify the beginning of the end of a dance career?
Neither Emily nor Shannon have definitive answers for this challenge. Shannon even admits that her busy schedule can actually become her comfort zone, saying:
“It has been great to watch other dancers prove that it’s actually possible to be married and continue dancing. Personally, however, I have not figured out how to prevent my schedule from getting in the way. Instead, I think I fall back on being busy as an excuse to keep myself off the “playing field” in dating and relationships because I am afraid that it will mess with my carefully laid schedule and my emotions. And my schedule doesn’t allow time for my emotions to go haywire. Haha”
On Contentment
While enjoying the freedom that often comes with dancing as a single person, there are also times when disappointment may try to creep in and spoil that phase of life. Emily has been encouraged by married friends who remind her how special that time of singleness is.
“When you are single, your journey is just with you and the Lord as your first love, but when you are married your relationship with God changes because you are now one with another person,” she stated.
Through this time of being single Emily has learned valuable lessons, saying, “The Lord has taught me how important it is for me to really know my identity in Him before I unite with someone else. When you are secure in who the Lord says you are, you don’t have to rely on someone else to give you worth.”
She added, “The Lord has also taught me so much about love, and through growing in knowledge of His love for me, I am better able to love others.”
Shannon echoed those sentiments as she reflected on lessons God has taught her during this time.
“His timing is perfect,” she acknowledged. “Though I may have my own ideas and proposed timeline, God has definitely shown me that He is teaching me lessons now that are preparing me to become a wife. Lessons like learning my identity in Christ, which is often hard to remember in the dance world… I’ve also learned to be honest before the Lord in both my frustrations and my fears, which has actually led me to become more vulnerable and open in other relationships as well as in my dancing.”
What advice do they have for others learning to be content as a single person?
“Don’t get too far ahead of yourself and take for granted the time you have as a single person, free to fully invest in whatever the Lord has placed on your heart whether it be your friendships, your family or a people group on the other side of the world,” Emily recommended.
Shannon offered advice of which she often reminds herself: “Seek the Lord first. He promises that when we do, He will add “all these things” (Matthew 6:33). To me, that includes relationships and finding a future spouse as well as career, finances, etc. In those times when I am able to keep my focus on the Lord (which is a constant decision), it is then that I feel I am better able to take advantage of the single life the Lord has blessed me with without falling into bitterness or watching life on the sidelines through the eyes of Hallmark Channel heroines.”
Remember our chocolate scenario from “Part 1”? Romantic relationships bring about different phases of life for different people. For some, a relationship that leads to marriage is the beginning of a new phase in which dance is no longer a career goal. For others, it begins the tango of fusing together two lives in which dance is a major part. For still others, relationships play a valuable role, but do not lead to marriage.
One thing is clear: God loves relationships, marriage and dance; and they can, in fact, go well together. Indeed, it seems like when it comes to the three, the saying “where there’s a will, there’s a way” is quite applicable. The key is to be careful that it is God’s will for which we are making a way rather than a battle of the wills. Then He takes care of the timing, the contentment, the scheduling, the traveling, the dancing.

Valentine’s Day Special: Relationships, Marriage and Dance (Part 1)

Do dancers get married? That’s a bit like asking do dancers eat chocolate to which the answer is some do and some don’t. Marriage, like dance as a career, is a calling and in honor of Valentine’s Day, we thought we would share the inside scoop on relationship experiences and opinions from a few of Ad Deum’s dancers.
The dancers were asked several questions in regard to relationships, specifically addressing issues unique to dancers. For part one, we take a look at the responses from a couple of the married ladies:

On Dance and Marriage

For many, dance and marriage don’t always seem like lifestyles that mix well. For Joselyn, who was married this past summer and spent the first part of the season dancing with Ad Deum’s second company, God changed her perspective when she met her now-husband, Patrick:

“I used to believe that I could either be a married woman or I could be a dancer. I couldn't see how the two could go together. But now I am obviously a dancer that is a married woman... So that alone to me is proof that God can change your heart and your mind. My husband constantly pushes me to be the best child of God and the best dancer I can be.”

For senior company member, Rebecca, who was married before joining the company, marriage is one of the ways she and her husband are able to serve the Lord together.
“Serving the Lord through dance is exactly what we do every day at Ad Deum, and because [my husband] Bob supports me, we are able to serve the Lord together through dance. Bob knows that my heart’s desire is to serve the Lord, and he knows that I am fulfilled by dancing in a community where we seek to glorify God,” she stated.
For both women, the support of their husbands includes attending shows. You may have met them at the door, handing out programs for past shows!
On the Impact Relationships Have on Dancing
Of course, we have to be professional. The audience shouldn’t know that you just went through a difficult breakup if that is the case, but it cannot be denied that relationships can influence our dancing. Rebecca’s relationship with her husband has increased her “ability to be vulnerable on stage.”
“Once I became more vulnerable in my relationship and realized it wasn’t so scary because I trust and love my husband, that allowed me to open up more in my performing,” she admitted. “If you open up and allow the audience to see more of who you really are, I think it makes for a more meaningful performance.”
On the flip side, God has changed plans for Joselyn and her husband, leading to her decision to take time off from dancing in order to better support her husband as he starts a new company.
“His dream is to be an entrepreneur,” she explained. “So here I am, diving into a business with him. Because that’s what husbands and wives do. They sacrifice for each other. And yeah, that was a hard sacrifice to make. I want nothing more than to dance every day all day long. But I know if I do this now for him that it will eventually be ‘my turn.’ He also wants nothing more than for me to dance. So maybe finding a way to perform that is a bit more ‘part time’ will be our answer. We talk about it a lot. It’s good to not hide frustration and sadness, etc.”
On Time and Busy Schedules
Without a doubt, a dancer’s life is a busy one. At Ad Deum, dancers take classes and rehearse by day and many teach at night. That doesn’t leave much time for other activities or people during the week. Both Joselyn and Rebecca will tell you they have to make the most of the time they do have to spend with their husbands.
As newlyweds, Joselyn and Patrick quickly learned they need to cut the TV off, leaving time to talk, ask questions, and laugh. Weekends are valuable, so Joselyn has sometimes chosen to say no to invitations to substitute teach a dance class that would cut into time reserved to spend with her husband. She is realizing that “taking the time even when you think you have none is not only important but necessary.”
Importantly, it takes understanding on the spouse’s part as well. This is another area where the support of Rebecca’s husband has been so important. The couple both sacrificed time in order to enable Rebecca to join Ad Deum’s month-long tour in Europe this past summer.
Of the experience, she recounted, “At first I didn’t think I would be able to go because I didn’t want to be away from him for so long. Eventually, Bob told me that if he were in my position he would want to go to Europe, so he knew he couldn’t ask me not to go. It was incredibly hard to be away from him for so long, but it was an amazing opportunity to dance and teach in Europe, and it was made easier because I knew I had Bob’s support and understanding.”
What would these married dancers say to dancers, both those single and those in relationships headed toward marriage?
Rebecca advised, “Seek the Lord first in all things. Know that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Live to the fullest where He has you in life right now. Love is a gift from the Lord, and He has His own timing in when He brings that into your life.”
Joselyn also suggested reading the Bible together and premarital counseling, saying “Don’t be afraid to talk about God and Jesus together. Our relationship became so much stronger since we began praying together and talking together about our beliefs and views.” Through the class she and her husband took, they also had the opportunity to discuss questions they might not have considered otherwise.
We hope Joselyn and Rebecca’s honesty as they learn to live the married life has been helpful to you. Now is a great time to take a chocolate break (if you’re a chocolate-eating dancer) before checking out "Part 2" of our Valentine’s Day post. You’ll learn what some of the company’s single members have to say on the issue of dance and relationships.