I used to think that only those who were formally trained could use dance as a form of worship, but the Creative Dance Worship Workshop showed me that anyone can honor God through dance.
I grew up understanding that worship could be more than singing hymns on a bench on Sunday mornings. It is an important aspect of the way we worship, but people can also honor and commune with God through other art forms. Yet because I wasn’t good at dancing or painting, I didn’t think this outlet of worship was one that I could personally engage with.
Junior Rachel Kookogey led this workshop on October 31 to help introduce and teach people that dance is a form of worship and a way to glorify God.
“I’ve been dancing since I was 3 and even though I don’t take tech classes anymore, it’s still a big part of my life,” Kookogey said.
Kookogey noticed that there was no outlet on campus for people to experience and engage in dancing in this way, and the idea of creating this opportunity for others had always been in his mind. spirit.
“There are a lot of great avenues for the Christian community here on campus,” Kookogey said.
In partnership with the InterVarsity Arts Ministry at Hillsdale College, Kookogey was able to put his idea into practice. Members of the Department of the Arts are bridging the campus gap between art and worship by providing students with the opportunity to learn to engage in both. The Creative Praise Dance Workshop was one of their first events.
“It’s not something that a lot of people do, so I wanted to show them how to do it,” Kookogey said. “Once we teach people, I hope they can do it again on their own or with their friends.”
The workshop began with Kookogey leading the group in prayer to help set the tone for the event and prepare the dancers to enter into fellowship with God. She initiated soft and familiar contemporary songs of worship and encouraged participants to try different tactics to help them clear their minds and enter a time of worship.
Being someone with no dance experience other than the YMCA ballet class I took when I was three, this event started out a little confusing. It was hard to stop worrying about other people looking at me or me being wrong, but Kookogey’s guidance really helped me focus on prayer and engage in fellowship with God.
Kookogey gave the groups exercises to be guided by the Holy Spirit. One of them was to imagine that you have a ball of physical energy in your hand. You had to release the control over yourself and allow the movement of this energy to move your body; wherever that bullet went, your body had to move with it.
“I didn’t want it to be about me or my dance experience,” Kookogey said. “I wanted it to be a comfortable place where people feel they can cast their worries on the Lord and release all inner tension.”
The event did just that for me.
It was the first time I can remember not having a million things in my head; I felt at peace and didn’t worry about the rest of my week or my responsibilities. This workshop provided me with the tools to stop focusing on myself and engage with God.
Junior Sophia Berryhill recounted a similar experience.
“As someone who grew up in dance, I found it to be largely self-centered and performance based,” said Berryhill. “This event went beyond that to provide a place to dance directly to God and make him the center of our movement.”
Kookogey hopes to hold similar events in the future to create outlets for those who need creative ways to express themselves.
“It seemed to be going really well and a lot of people said they wanted to start over,” Kookogey said.