Credibility as a dancer in the secular – as ministry

“WHAT IS MEANT BY THE PHRASE OF “MINISTRY THROUGH DANCE'”

I am no stranger to the experiences of worshipping privately in dance, of praying, interceding, battling, praising, celebrating and expressing the prophetic, both in improvised and choreographed dance, and of teaching and leading others – I have been engaged in all of them at various times and continue to do so.

However, in the life God has called me to, ministry through dance is a very broad term; it concerns who I am as a person, who God made me to be – a dancer. All my life I have trained and performed more in secular community contexts than in churches, Christian conferences or outreach programmes. My experience has been that the church has often not known how to deal with dance. Therefore, although I dance regularly in my current church during services, I have spent a lot more time working hard in various parts of the secular dance and academic communities, as teacher, choreographer, performer and conference speaker, seeking to build my credibility as a person of integrity, loyalty and perseverance, who works always towards a high level of skill (whether in dance or in other arts). From this platform, my own dance works concerning God and my faith have been received well in the secular context. My sense has been that, if I build my credibility as a dancer in the secular community, then the secular community is very happy to watch and even pay me to dance my own works, and to be moved by them.

My experience has been that Christians have generally found it hard to understand what I do in the secular dance world, while my secular dance colleagues seem to have little understanding of what I do in the Christian world.

The current month is probably a good example of my dance life: dancing during worship in my own church, attending classes and workshops at a local dance school and at the university, rehearsing with the same local dance school to take my usual dramatic cum dance cum helping out onstage role during their end of year show in the biggest theatre in our city, writing online reviews of professional secular dance shows, teaching dance to disabled children and young people, teaching dance class at the university, editing a friend’s book giving their testimony of dancing for God, preparing a paper and a new dance work for a secular international academic conference, and continuing work on writing and publication of my own books (based on my study of the arts through the eyes of a dancer).

And God smiles. This is the life He has called me to. This is my ministry through dance.

Debbie

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