Thursday, October 16, 2008

Preteens use dance to share faith

Here's an interesting article from York Daily Record / Sunday News that I found when I was looking up something on Contemporary Christian Music:

Preteens use dance to share faith
'Worship dance' company performs at churches

Daily Record/Sunday News

Article Last Updated: 09/25/2008 12:24:53 PM EDT

Allison Smith, center front, dances last week with other members fo Believe, a worship dance company at the Greater York Center for Dance Education. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - BIL BOWDEN)

The preteen dancers look like others you'll find stretching in contortive positions on the hardwood floor of any American dance studio.
Black leotards, pink tights, locks pinned into hair-netted buns.

But when these girls take the stage, they don't tendue and tour to Tchaikovsky. They sashay to Steven Curtis Chapman. Instead of jazz hands, they bring their palms together in prayer.

They stretch their arms heavenward, wishing to be closer to God. At other points, dancers bow their heads in submission, miming a plea for forgiveness.

Their dance company is called Believe, a 3-year-old troupe based at the Greater York Center for Dance Education and performing in a style that blends elements of ballet, modern and lyrical dance.

Marina Rosario, a dancer with Believe, rehearses with the worship dance group. The troupe performs at local Christian congregations. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - BIL BOWDEN)

"I thought this was a good way to connect the two things I love most -- my faith and my love for dance," said 13-year-old Rebecca Swartz, an eighth-grader at Central York Middle School.

"The music is spiritual. It pleases God, and it's not like hip-hop, where the words can be bad or mention drugs."

Eleven-year-old Sarah Hoffman said, "If God gave me the gift of dance, I should express it back to him by using the talent he gave me."

The girls said they love the freedom of creating their own routines -- something they aren't permitted to do in other classes.

"It's more heart-driven dancing," said Lori Pergament, GYCDE's artistic director.

"It's open. Spiritual. If they're feeling moved by something, they can contribute to the choreography."

Performing at church services and other congregational events, Believe is sharing its form of worship dance across the county, said teacher Breanna Rufle Gruver.

"We just try to get across a positive message," said Gruver, a Catholic who began dancing at age 5.

"I'm a teacher in a lot of classes but I feel a special connection to my girls on worship team. You just feel closer to somebody when you have that spiritual connection."

Gruver prays with the dancers before rehearsal. At performances -- usually two or three each spring -- they gather in a circle and ask God to bless their performance and communicate his love to their audience.

Believe charges nothing to congregations who ask them to perform. Their only requirement is space -- roughly 30 feet by 10 feet.



· Celebration of Dance

· International Christian Dance Fellowship

· Christian Dance Fellowship USA

· Dance in Christian Worship

-Find more news about faith, values and belief locally and nationwide in our new "Faith Life" section

Brings back memories of Youth Group and interpretive dance classes that were often offered at Youth camps like Centrifuge. What are your thoughts?

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