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 consist of more than just singing hymns in a pew on Sunday morning. That is an important aspect of how we worship, but people can also honor and commune with God through other forms of art. Yet because I wasn’t skilled in dance or painting, I didn’t believe that this outlet of worship was one that I could personally engage with.
Junior Rachel Kookogey led this workshop on Oct. 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 while I don’t take technical classes anymore, it’s still a big part of my life,” Kookogey said.
Kookogey noticed that there wasn’t an outlet on campus for people to experience and engage with dance in this way, and the thought of creating this opportunity for others had always been in the back of her mind.
“There are a lot of great avenues for Christian community here on campus,” Kookogey said.
Partnering with the InterVarsity Arts Ministry at Hillsdale College, Kookogey was able to put her idea into action. The members of the arts ministry fill the gap on campus between art and worship by providing opportunities for students to learn how to engage with both. The creative worship dance 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 teach people, hopefully 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 turned on soft, familiar contemporary worship songs and encouraged the participants to try different tactics to help clear their mind and have them enter into a time of praise.
Being someone without any prior dance experience, except for the one YMCA ballet class I took when I was three, this event started out a little unnerving. It was difficult to stop worrying about other people watching me or me messing up, but Kookogey’s guidance really helped me to focus on prayer and engaging in communion with God.
Kookogey gave the group exercises to allow themselves to be led by the Holy Spirit. One of these included imagining that you have a physical ball of energy in your hand. You had to release control over yourself and allow the movement from this energy to move your body; wherever this 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 felt they could cast their cares on the Lord and release any inner tension.”
The event did just that for me.
This was the first time I can remember not having a million things swimming around 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 to engage with God.
Junior Sophia Berryhill recounted a similar experience.
“As someone who grew up dancing, I found that a lot of it was self focused and performance based,” Berryhill said. “This event pushed past that to offer a place to directly dance at God and have that be the focus of our movement.”
Kookogey hopes to host similar events in the future to create outlets for those who need creative avenues to express themselves.
“It seemed to go really well and a lot of people said they wanted to do it again,” Kookogey said.