The Word in the Wings
The Word in the Wings > Alive in Us: moving and internalizing Ezekiel 36:27, 30
Alive in Us: moving and internalizing Ezekiel 36:27-30
By: JESSICA NOONAN
Alive in Us, a ballet featured in Glorify Dance Theatre’s MainStage show this November, was created to bring the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control) to life. We chose Ezekiel 36:27, 30 as our memory verse for this particular ballet. After diving into the Bible to better understand the fruit of the spirit, we began to ask these questions; “ If we are followers of Jesus, what power fills our lives with the fruit of the spirit? And what makes our effort different from a non-believer?” These questions ultimately led us to Ezekiel 36:27, 30:
I will put my spirit within you and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances…
I will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field abundant, so that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.
This verse was written by the prophet Ezekiel to the people of Israel after they were exiled to Babylon in 597 B.C. It was a time of crisis and great confusion for the Israelites. God used Ezekiel to bring His message to them. The main purpose of the message was to restore God’s glory to his people who had rejected Him (Video by the Bible Project: Ezekiel 1-33).
These verses tell us GOD will put the Holy Spirit within us. When the Holy Spirit is IN us, our hearts have changed. When our hearts have changed from “stone to flesh,” we are able to live lives that embody the fruit of the spirit. The preceding verse says, “A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you, and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” The fruit of the spirit is produced from a changed heart. We then DESIRE to follow God’s ordinances because of our deep love for him. When the fruit is abundant, it has the power to spread so that others can also enjoy the “fruit” and learn about Jesus. Only God has the power to change hearts; we just have to be willing.
Now let’s take a look at the company’s choreography and interpretation of Ezekiel 36:27, 30. Click here to watch the video: Moving Ezekiel 36.
Group 1 (Audrey, Liz, Aleksa) dances on the left of the video screen; Group 2 (Julia, Naomi, Gabrielle) dances on the right.
Group 1: Aleksa, Audrey, and Liz
- The first thing I noticed was how they represented “I,” which refers to God because God is speaking through Ezekiel in this passage. Liz brought her arms up gracefully, but with strength which reminds me that God is above all and reigns over all with power and love. Psalm 9:7-10 says,
But the Lord sits enthroned forever; he has established his throne for judgment. He judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity. The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
- The dancers choreographed hand movements for “within you” which helped me to internalize the importance of the Holy Spirit not just being in your mind but also in your heart. Aleksa’s hand was placed over her forehead and the other was over her heart. When the Lord is with you, He is with every part of you, always. Galatians 2:20 reminds us,
…it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
- The pattern of hand movements during “make you follow” lends itself to easier memorization. In my mind, I can see the hands moving one after another symbolizing “follow,” similar to the way we teach preschoolers how to memorize scripture through symbolic hand gestures.
- The gentle arm movement for “be careful” looks like the arms you would use when carrying a baby. This helps with my interpretation of that particular line. “Be careful!” is something a loving mother or father would say to their child because they don’t want them to get hurt. In the same way, our loving Father is saying “be careful” to follow my rules, because I do not want something bad to happen to you.
Group 2: Julia, Naomi, and Gabrielle
- I absolutely love the contrast between the two groups’ interpretation of “I will.” Group 1 displayed God’s omnipotence, and Group 2 displayed his omnipresence by choosing intertwining hands. This reminds me of Joshua 1:9, which says that God is with us everywhere we go:
I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
- Group 2 displayed graceful arms to represent “putting my spirit within.” The beautiful, winding arms reaching above and then into them, provided a meaningful image to the spirit entering us, like the wings of a bird. This, of course, reminds me of Jesus’ baptism! The holy spirit descending on Jesus like a dove is mentioned 4 times in the Bible, Mark 1:10, Matthew 3:16-17, and Luke 3:21-22, John 1:32-34.
- The arms for “you” were not pointing into themselves which I thought would have been the obvious choice. Instead they chose outward reaching arms, which reminds me that once the Holy Spirit is within you, you have a changed heart. A changed heart has the power to produce good fruit which others can benefit from.
- The hand and feet choreography for “my statutes” reminds me that our God is a just, wise, and mighty King. We must follow His commands in order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus states, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.
When watching the two groups’ movements side-by-side, I noticed they represented some similar ideas even if the movements were different.
- Both groups of dancers chose arms that were circular in motion for “I will make,” portraying the idea of completeness.
- “The fruit” was characterized in both groups by movements that reminded me of something being alive. That interpretation then connected me back to the title of this ballet, Alive In Us. The Spirit that brings forth fruit is alive in us and moving through us in order for others to also experience it. Galatians 5:25 tells us, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.”
- I was pleasantly surprised to see BOTH groups used the same choreography for “produce of the fields.” Both movements lent themselves to the interpretation that the produce or fruit needs to be spread abundantly. There are many verses that talk about the importance of bearing an abundance of good fruit. In John 15:8 Jesus states, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
This was another captivating exercise with the company where the scripture came to life through their interpretation and studying of the scripture. One thing I love about the Bible, is that every time you read it, you learn something new if you are open to hearing His Word. I have found the same kind of revelation through these movement activities. When I observe scripture come to life through movement, it reminds me that Jesus wants us to physically act on what we have learned from Him. He doesn’t want us to be passive Christians, only listening to his teachings. He wants us to be constantly moving, continuously sharing the gospel, showing others what it means to live with the Holy Spirit and be a follower of Jesus Christ. I invite you to watch the video and make your own discoveries. Hopefully you too will be inspired to go out and spread the word of our amazing Lord.
Scripture quotations in this post are from the New Revised Standard Version Updated Edition.
Join Glorify Dance Theatre for a Mixed Repertoire performance, including Alive in Us, on November 10-11, 2023. Tickets are available here.
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