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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Interview with Sandy Arena

I had the privilege of interviewing Sandy Arena from The Life Ballet, NY.  I have met her in person once and talked with her several times on the phone. She and I share the same passion of dancing for the Lord, and she and her family have been called to perform a dance nationwide that speaks about choice and healing in the aftermath. This dance is very powerful because it comes from her heart, it is  her testimony to how God has healed her. Enjoy getting to know Sandy better and find her online and on facebook!  Maybe she and her dancers can come to your area!

What is your background in dance?

I have always loved movement since I was a child. I was never afforded formal gymnastics or dance lessons as a child, so I did what I could to fulfill this craving I had in my body to express myself through movement by dancing or doing walk-overs wherever I could!
In second grade, I founded a cheerleading team with my best friend and in high school I participated in the dance team and it’s kind of embarrassing now to think back because we had no training, but just this pure love of dance. What I lacked in technical training, I made up for in passion, I suppose. 
In addition to this festival, I remember going to a jazz class with this same friend at a dance studio in our town. The owner of the studio encouraged us to audition for dance parts in a production.  I was very slender, limber and like I said passionate, so I guess she thought we had a chance. That same day, my friend and I stopped at a convenient store on our way home. My father so happened to be there (he was separated from my mother at the time and I rarely saw him and when I did, it usually wasn’t pleasant). He yelled at me in front of the store because I had been wearing tights and a leotard accusing me of basically being a whore. I did not mean to dress inappropriately. My mind didn’t even go there. For me, it was like a basketball player driving home in his uniform. It just didn’t occur to me. It was if the devil was trying to squash something in my soul from the beginning.  
When I gave birth to my oldest daughter Alexis, I was determined to provide her with formal dance instruction and enrolled her in her in a preschool ballet class when she was just 2 years old at a place I had been teaching fitness.  Alexis was shy her first year of classes and her teacher Miss Linda allowed me to attend the classes with her! I learned all the basics of ballet alongside my three-year-old daughter! Alexis continued dancing at this recital school studying ballet, tap and jazz through age 10. I was then a “dance mom” enjoying every opportunity and performance my daughter was in. 

When Alexis was in fifth grade, we enrolled her in a professional ballet training center. A few years thereafter when she was 13 years old, she asked us to open a Christian ballet studio for her! Life in the training center for her had been grueling and unkind in many ways, emotionally and socially. So we said “yes” to her request and opened a ballet school for her called the Amanda Rose Belmont Dance for Joy Studio. Our ballet company was named Yahweh Ballet. We started in the basement of a Christian school in our area and within one year had approximately 100 students enrolled. Our other two children Annaliese and Caleb were ages two and four when we opened the school, and I was definitely in over my head. We had no idea it would take off like it did.  It was a journey of faith and the Lord completely equipped our family for this assignment for each victory and each challenge, bringing us closer to Him every moment. It wasn’t so much about the dance school, but about learning more about the character and heart of our Lord as we heeded to what seemed impossible at the time. With God by my side, I learned how to HIRE dance teachers, how to manage many people and how to make a business work the HARD way, through hands-on experience. 
I ran the school until 2011 at which time our Alexis chose to make the school her own and her career, with me staying involved with a few key projects that are very close to my heart including my traveling show The Life Ballet. We closed Dance for Joy and Alexis re-opened as a private business called Mossa School of Dance ( and I then became the wind beneath her wings. It was then that I started taking ballet and conditioning classes at Mossa when I have time! 

Who says you can’t learn ballet at age 47 and in the company of my youngest daughter Annaliese, who was 8 years old at the time and with my oldest daughter Alexis as my teacher. I had a secret competition going with my younger daughter as we worked on our splits and plies together! Funny story was when my daughter Alexis scolded me in class for chewing gum and stopped the entire class to wait for me to throw my gum out.  

The whole story of Yahweh Ballet and this assignment from God can be read in my book Yahweh Ballet: Learning to Dance by Faith. I wrote this book as a way to inspire and encourage others to heed to the call of God no matter how seemingly impossible using our own journey with the dance school as example. The book is an easy read, and includes many beautiful dance photos from our shows and scriptures sharing lessons and principals of faith we learned along the way. The book can be purchased via my website at:
What are you most passionate about?
I am most passionate about serving the Lord and my family and about honoring the role of motherhood in all that I do! I am very certain of my purpose as a servant of God and a helper to my husband and our family.  This has to be the most satisfying and grounding feeling in the world, and one I would say took years to discover. When I finally heard the truth of this call for a woman’s life as it is laid out in the word of God, everything in my heart and life came together and clicked.  I try to funnel all of my interests and ministry callings through this vein whether it is homeschooling my children which I absolutely love to do or whether it is traveling with our show The Life Ballet which my whole family participates in! Motherhood and family is the greatest calling on a woman’s life and I truly try to highlight this through all of my work endeavors whether it is by way of cheerfully folding a load of laundry for the 5th time in a day or whether it is sharing a blog post about the joys of being a wife and a mom!  I wouldn’t dance, or teach or perform unless I was doing it alongside and for my family. I wouldn’t do it, if it drew me away from them. I do it because it has become part of our lives and an effort that has drawn us closer together. Below is a picture of Sandy with her family and friends on a recent trip with The Life Ballet.

What Kind of Studio/Ministry Do You Have Now?
I am involved as a “visionary” kind of person in a lot of areas! I can best answer this question with the vision statement on my website Arts Illuminate. I chose this name as an umbrella name to the many things God has me involved in above and beyond dance including writing, dancing, teaching worship to children, photography, writing music, or performing with our traveling shows. Check it out if you get a chance at or (they both go to the same place).

Here is the statement: Arts Illuminate was founded by Sandy Arena in 2013 as an umbrella organization to her family's work for the Kingdom including God's Girl Princess and Yahweh Ballet Worship Dance Classes, The Life Ballet Traveling Dance Production and Silent Dancers for Life. Arts Illuminate shares the healing light of Jesus Christ through photography and prophetic music by Sandy Arena, and visual, worship and performance arts focusing on the grace, love and mercy of Jesus Christ. "You will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons." Isaiah 42:7.

Tell us more about the Dance for Life/Silent Dancers Ministry.

I am very passionate about social justice issues and speaking out against abortion, as well as ministering healing through the arts to people suffering in the aftermath of abortion. Abortion is the greatest tragedy in our modern history this country has faced with 56 million lives lost since abortion was legalized in the United States in 1973. One in three women by age 45 has had an abortion. There are many hurting people after this choice, and I was one of them for many years suffering in the silence of shame. There are so many ways this issue needs to be battled, but one of the ways God has given to me is to share my own personal abortion testimony through our show The Life Ballet with the purpose of telling others this is not the choice to make in the midst of unplanned pregnancy, and also that there is healing and forgiveness after abortion for the millions who have made this choice. We travel with this production around the country and even performed it once in Canada. There is great power in the arts to minister truth and healing. We dedicate our show to all the children who never had the chance to dance. More information about The Life Ballet show can be found at

We began dancing in front of abortion clinics in the summer of 2013 after an online friend sent me a simple message one day that said “Bless you as you dance to end abortion.” She is very involved in the prayer movement at abortion clinics. She was alluding to The Life Ballet in her message, but in some way the words jumped off the page to me in vision, and I saw us dancing in silence and intercession in front of clinics. I saw this as a growing movement that would involve people who love movement all over the country. When we move, we are worshipping and praying and interceding. It was very scary at first to do this. I had no idea what to expect. But like everything else, the Lord has been with us all the way. Now it is one of our favorite things to do and it is so powerful. We dance for an hour and wear t-shirts to unify our efforts. People stop and notice when they see dancers. Our efforts gain attention from passerbys, but more importantly God responds to our movement prayers. More information can be found at: Click Here.

 Is this something we could do in our area? 
Yes please! It is our hope and desire that others would join us in this effort. Our vision is to set up teams with a unifying vision! There is power in movement and in unity! We have Silent Dancers t-shirts and products available on our merchandise store - Unifying through clothing grabs visual attention and is teambuilding. 
Those interested in participating should email me at
In raising our children to honor God as dancers, what are some important things we need to teach them as parents and dance teachers?
Know that what God has put in you to express yourself is powerful. Dance is a gift. Movement is a gift. It tells a story. It ministers healing. It turns our mourning into dancing (Psalm 30). It brings forth prayer, worship and praise (Psalm 149). It celebrates. It is cleansing to the body and freeing to the spirit. It touches those who watch it deeply. It touches those who are engaged in it deeply, as well. Be thankful to the Lord for this gift and know as you dance for Him that you are pioneering a method of communication that has been lost in the church. It is time that it is returned to the church as the powerful form of expression, prayer and praise that God created it to be.
Be kind to the dancer. The body is the “paint” or the “canvas”. It is the “instrument”. It is the song. To dance in front of others can be a vulnerable activity. Strive for excellence, but know perfection is impossible and kills the soul. A less than perfect move with expression can be more powerful than the most perfectly executed dance move done with a flat face. Dance for an audience of One (our Lord), no matter what kind of dance God has called you to do whether you are a prima ballerina on the grandest stages in the world, or whether you are dancing in front of an abortion clinic to raise awareness of the injustice of abortion. 
Be kind to each other when dancing together. Respect your teachers. Respect the Lord. Respect your body in what you wear and in what you eat. It is a physical pursuit and is challenging. Take care of your instrument – the body God gave you!   If you are attacked or criticized for modesty issues or movement issues, examine your heart – like the situation that happened with my father! That hurt my feelings so deeply and made me never want to dance again. It filled me with shame, not conviction. The thought that what I was wearing was not appropriate had not crossed my mind, because like Adam and Eve in the garden before the fall of sin, I didn’t even notice what I was wearing. Had my father suggested to me in a different, LOVING tone, I would have responded. Remember this if you feel it is your place to correct. Most likely, it’s not your place. 
Remember, above all else, to put on LOVE when representing Jesus and HE will show you the way!  

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Open Classes--1st class of each month!

The first Tuesday and Saturday of every month is OPEN CLASS time, in which you and/or your child can try a class for free and no obligation! We look forward to meeting you!