Choreographers focus on how to communicate God’s love for us

By: Emma Edelman

Salvationists from across the country came together at the Evangeline Booth College in Atlanta, Georgia, for a weekend dedicated to dancers of every level. The Choreographers Conference, under the leadership of Bethany Farrell, territorial creative arts director, had a clear focus for everyone who attended; that dance and movement are not only a performance, but are vessels to communicate God’s love to everyone, and that anyone can become involved in this ministry, regardless of social status, gender, age or physical ability.

“God gave art to humanity as a gift; a way to understand and communicate with each other and with him,” Farrell said. “Our dance programs in The Salvation Army have spent the past decade growing strong roots and developing a sturdy base of leadership and skill. Now it’s time to reach wide and see what an innovative and fresh approach to our ministry can do.”

Several guest speakers and workshop leaders, with impressive talents, resumes and testimonies, led the attendees in various sessions and classes. Topics not only included technique, design and inspiration, but also how dance and movement can be implemented in any location for anyone at any level. Blake Lanier led a session about how dance can be an instrumental tool in social intervention. Marlene Dickinson presented a class that taught attendees the importance of making dance available and possible for people with disabilities. Jessica Fagerstrom led a workshop that taught how to put personal testimonies into movement. Each class focused on how dance and movement could be learned by people at any skill level.

Highlights of the weekend included the conference showcase on Saturday evening. Presentations from the various workshops were interspersed with individual performances, and each one was meaningful and breathtaking. Conference attendees also participated in times of reflection, devotions and worship. Kathryn Higgins, dance ministries specialist for USA East, presented “Playback Dance,” a ministry that allows dancers to put people’s stories into motion right before their eyes.

The conference was impactful, enlightening and educational. Attendees departed having been reminded that art – in this case, dance – is a powerful tool to connect all people with the Creator. For opportunities to get involved in dance and creative arts ministries in your division, contact your divisional music and arts department.

Emma Edelman is the program and ministry director of the Atlanta Temple Corps.