Kyla Fuller’s first time teaching dance was in middle school. She taught a Girl Scout troop a jazz/hip-hop number so they could earn their dance badges. Now, a half-decade later, Fuller is the director of Dance Ministry, a team that uses dancing as a means of praise and worship.
Dance Ministry is a branch of New Life Ministry, a non-denominational Christian organization at Rowan that formed five years ago, and hosts activities like Bible study, praise parties and gospel choir.
Although the organization has been consistently active since its formation, the dance team has not.
“I’m not sure when the last time the dance team was active before I came,” said Fuller, a freshman athletic training major who became the director last fall. “But I’m here now and hope to expand the dance team and network and fellowship with other dance teams.”
When Fuller first joined New Life Ministry this year, she found out about the once-active dance team.
“[The former president] told me that they were looking for a new director for the dance team, and I was more than willing to take the position,” Fuller said. “I had to create a whole new team by getting members and non-members of New Life to join.”
Fuller recruited six active dancers who are all Rowan students. On most Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m., they gather in Mount Olive Baptist Church on Redmond Avenue to practice praise dancing, a form of lyrical dance set to Christian and gospel music. Fuller choreographs the moves and teaches them to the dancers, and the dancers help each other learn. Fuller brought four years of experience in praise dancing from her home church, Pilgrim Baptist Church in Summit, New Jersey.
Atiyannah Jean-Baptiste, a law and justice studies and sociology dual major, learned how to dance on the team after joining in the fall.
“I dance because it makes me happy,” said Jean-Baptiste, who found out about Dance Ministry from Fuller. “I like being able to minister to whomever is watching us dance. I express my religion with my dancing.”
Sophomore marketing major Kutia Swinney, who came to Dance Ministry last semester with a background in ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop, does not believe that people have to be religious to enjoy watching the dance team perform, but she does admit that it would help them feel a “higher connection.”
“I believe that dancing is one of the gifts that God has given to me,” Swinney said. “It’s my way of expressing my gratitude towards Him for everything He has done.”
New Life Ministry President Danovench Jean oversees any transportation or communication necessary to the dance team.
“I like [the] fact that we have a dance team because it gives others an opportunity to be able to express themselves and do it in a way that they can honor God and have fun all the while,” said Jean, who became president this semester after serving as vice president for two semesters. “I also feel that it creates a chance for others to learn about God and experience Him in a new way.”
Dance Ministry is a work in progress for Fuller, as they only performed once at Mount Olive last October, but they have not had any other engagements since. Dance Ministry’s plan for the future is to join with dance teams from other schools in fellowship.
“The dance team has great potential and can go very far by spreading the word and fellowshipping with other dance teams from other universities and other churches,” Fuller said.
For information about New Life Ministry or Dance Ministry, email New Life Ministry President Danovench Jean at firstname.lastname@example.org
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