I used to think that only those with formal training 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 in a pew on Sunday mornings. This is an important aspect of how 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 believe this outlet of worship was one 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 years old, and even though I don’t take technical 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 with dance in this way, and the idea of creating this opportunity for others had always been on his mind. .
“There are a lot of great avenues for the Christian community here on campus,” Kookogey said.
Partnering with Hillsdale College’s InterVarsity Arts Ministry, Kookogey was able to bring his idea to life. Members of the Ministry of Arts bridge the gap on campus between art and worship by providing students with the opportunity to learn to engage in both. The Worship Dance Creative Workshop was one of their first events.
“It’s not something a lot of people do, so I wanted to show them how to do it,” Kookogey said. “Once we have taught 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 to prepare the dancers to enter into communion with God. She launched into soft, familiar contemporary worship songs and encouraged attendees to try different tactics to help clear their minds and bring them into a moment of praise.
Being someone with no previous dance experience except for the one YMCA ballet class I took when I was three years old, this event started out a bit unnerving. It was hard to stop worrying that other people were watching me or that I was wrong, but Kookogey’s guidance really helped me focus on prayer and engage in fellowship with God.
Kookogey gave the group exercises to be led by the Holy Spirit. One of them was to imagine that you had a physical ball of energy in your hand. You had to release control over yourself and allow the movement of this energy to move your body; wherever that ball 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 discharge themselves onto the Lord and release any inner tension.”
The event did just that for me.
It was the first time I remembered not having a million things in my head; I felt at peace and wasn’t worried 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 dancing, I found it was largely self-centered and performance-based,” Berryhill said. “This event went beyond that to provide a place to dance directly to God and make that central to 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 do it again,” Kookogey said.