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Broken Heart Breathes Hope To Rejected, Abandoned

By Gregory Austin Nwakunor
18 April 2015   |   1:34 am
NINETY five percent of dance compositions are entertainment pieces. They have a lot of humour, fun, glitz and glamour in them. They are the ones the family sits down to watch and glean at the messages. They have delineated characterisation, stage composition and movement. They are meant to amuse you too. But not this one.
A scene from one of Ediale-Henshaw's dance pieces

A scene from one of Ediale-Henshaw’s dance pieces

NINETY five percent of dance compositions are entertainment pieces. They have a lot of humour, fun, glitz and glamour in them. They are the ones the family sits down to watch and glean at the messages. They have delineated characterisation, stage composition and movement. They are meant to amuse you too. But not this one.

It is one of the five per cent that the audience struggles to understand and get the message. It is equally conceived to be performed in any theatre of your imagination — the proscenium, orchestra pit, theatre in the round, anywhere. Even in the church altar. Though, laced with poetic rhythms and movements, it is specially created to preach the gospel.

You only need to see the 10-minute flick of Traci Ediale-Henshaw’s Broken Heart to feel a taste of the unnerving dance inspired by the Holy Spirit, which she calls Prophetic Dance. The dance, probably, says something more profound: Unbreaking the heart.

It is a straightforward ministration with body movements recreating Biblical passages without the use of words. It captures emotional pains as a result of abuse, rejection, abandonment, betrayal, disappointments, judgments, criticism or other negative behaviour by others. The entire movement, grippingly, reveals the haunting message that this pain can be more devastating than the physical because most people feel that they have to hide it and pretend it isn’t real or live in denial and suffer in shame and loneliness.

“The truth of the matter is, no one can start or conceive Prophetic dance. God is the one that conceived it. He puts the movements in the dancer and gives him or her the grace to operate in it. A great example is in the book of Nehemiah. After God made all the provision, He gave Nehemiah the grace to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem,” Traci says over the phone from Germany.

“God put the movements in me, in 2008, while I was still my church’s youth dance instructor. I normally choreograph steps known as Kingdom Dance for our youth programmes. But this fateful day, in my living room, while I was rehearsing one of the steps, I found myself in another realm of movements that I could not understand — my total body was responding to a rhythm that was best explained by the message in the song. I could not control the sweet feeling. I felt anointing, all over me — My facial expression, my hand, feet and body just flowed like a stream, as I surrendered to the refreshing spiritual encounter… but I continued my usual dance steps with the youth in the church,” she says.

Traci knew God’s heart regarding the dance. She knew it was for the foretelling of God’s word for particular situations and people, but she didn’t do anything about the performance until years after.

When she had her encounter, she began in earnest to do the spiritual. Almost for everyday, she would dance to rhythms that seemed like contemporary dance. To start with, she found sound as the unconventional instrument for the ministry. Sound became important for composing the steps, the movements and the tonalities of the sequence. Sound became what steered her to the compositions.

“I knew that through the dance, God wanted to pass across his message of hope, love, peace, restoration and deliverance to the broken. I knew it was a prophetic dance, and in 2010, when I finally got the courage to minister in my family church in London, I was amazed on the impact the dance had on the congregation. I knew God had started to use me,” she retorts.

“The impact made with the dance eased her pains of neglecting God’s words for two years,” she says with emphasis. “Dance and movement are a language of communication just as word, music or visual art… Therefore, when dance is communicating God’s word for a particular people and situation, it is prophecy. The dance can be choreographed or spontaneous. Just like prophecy, it can come through either a prepared or a spontaneous message.”

Could the dance have evolved from a personal experience?

“No,” she says. “Through a piece like this and many others that I have used to minister in the church, God consoles, comforts, heals, restores, delivers and gives hope to the wounded in spirit, leading them on the pathway to peace, happiness, joy, gladness and total restoration.

God sees, knows and understand our secret pain. He feels our hurt and because He is full of love, he is interested in both our spiritual and physical lives and want to heal our wounded souls.”

She continues, “I studied theatre arts at the University of Ibadan and I majored in acting. For every theatre artiste, there is always a conscious effort to further the lot of humanity through the discipline. I did not major in dance, however, with the training in the discipline, I found myself, through the help of the Holy Spirit, ministering in dance in churches and choreographing mime movements in gospel songs in the youth and children church.”

The Ekpoma, Edo State-born lady says prophetic dance is a ministry like the other ministries you have in the body of Christ, and therefore it is not for entertainment. The purpose is passing across God’s heart to the people and people are blessed, encouraged, delivered and restored. It is not a Sunday entertainment. That is why before l minister in a new church, l make them understand the importance of keying into the ministration with their spiritual senses than feeling entertained. I don’t want to be applauded, but blessed, knowing God purpose is fulfilled in their lives.”

She confesses, “Prophecy of God’s word can be for people and situations of the past, present and even for the future. We can see in the Bible, how a particular people were ‘called’ to be prophets in both the old and New Testament. So, it is, in prophetic dance. This is when the ‘called’ anointed dancers minister prophetically through dance to a person or a people.”

Traci says Broken Heart is about God’s thinking in a particular situation and people. “In other words, what does our heavenly father want to say to an individual or group in a situation, this day, and in this hour? Its purpose is simply to communicate God’s mind to the individual or people through movement, facial expressions, songs and dramatic gestures.”

You wonder how the movements are composed? Traci says, “It is not my doing. I’m just a vessel the Holy Spirit uses to pass across his message, so, l could say the Holy Spirit composes the movements and steps and l only yield to instructions and direction as he uses my mind, soul and body to dance and minister to the broken in spirit.”

She views the genre as being a strand of dance liturgy: space, movement, signification and temporariness. She, however, quips, “God wants to pour His sweet refreshing oil of joy, love and gladness that passes human understanding on them.”

Since her encounter with the dance, she has done some prophetic dance courses and workshop in London, currently; she is another workshop in KOM Institute for Kingdom Empowerment in Netherlands under the mentorship of Prophetess Sherma Kelly Oriakhi.

Over the years, she has staged the gripping movements in churches and open spaces in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands. In the next couple of months, she will come home with two pieces that she is working on for her Nigerian audience.