So You Think You Can Dance . . . for Jesus?

By: Alyssa Mendez
High school dancers and their parents don’t have to choose between professional dance instruction and a Christian education. They can have both. Discover how CCA’s Dance Endorsement program makes this possible for high school students and which renowned college dance programs and summer intensives they’re being accepted into.

While Calvary Christian Academy isn’t a performing arts school, its unique Dance Endorsement program, which is similar to a magnet program, gives high school students the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by professionally trained faculty members who love the Lord and want to see their students glorify God with the beauty of movement.

Through this program, students are exposed to various dance genres, techniques, and styles such as Ballet, Modern Dance, and Jazz. The curriculum includes, but is not limited to: repertory courses emphasizing performance skills, choreography, Pointe, variations, dance pedagogy, dance history, cultural dance forms, conditioning, anatomy, injury prevention, and critical analysis of dance performance.
“They are not just being molded into excellent dancers, but also women and men of God”
 
CCA students who are accepted into the Dance Endorsement program after applying and auditioning participate for all four years of high school. Auditions continue to be part of the program even once a student is accepted. In an effort to prepare them for the realities of dancing at the professional level, each student who performs for a dance concert in the CCA Theatre is required to audition for their role.

“Cuts are a very real part of the industry. We want to teach our students how to deal with disappointment in a healthy way by clinging to the Lord instead of resorting to unhealthy coping behaviors or negative thinking,” said Sandra Henderson, Secondary Dance Instructor at CCA who graduated with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts (BFA) from New World School of the Arts in Miami.

Preparing for the Next Chapter

 
CCA faculty like Ms. Henderson and Mrs. Tara Brown — who graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Honors College of Florida State University’s dance program with a BFA — prepare students for admission into post-secondary educational programs, professional careers in the field of dance, and ministry opportunities.

This year’s Dance Endorsement students have recently earned acceptances into nationally and internationally ranked colleges with top-rated dance programs and summer intensive programs. (Keep reading to find out which schools made them offers this year!)

While a majority of Dance Endorsement students also attend outside studios to further hone their skills, some have not but have still gained the knowledge and techniques necessary to be accepted into such prestigious programs.
By the time they graduate, they will have completed at least 100 hours of participation and performance requirements
By the time they graduate, they will have completed at least 100 hours of participation and performance requirements, which earns them a special graduation cord and a seal of recognition on their diploma.

“These girls are getting opportunities that most students in performing arts schools are striving for. God is doing some very big things in this program, even during this unprecedented school year,” said Ms. Henderson.

 
Due to the pandemic, this year’s seniors were not able to fly to schools to audition in person but had to submit virtual auditions instead. They were guided by CCA’s dance faculty who walked them through the process and allowed them to use the school’s dance studio to record their auditions.

Additionally, all Dance Endorsement students have been building and editing their professional resumes since freshman year so they’re ready to submit them to colleges and conservatories.
students have been building and editing their professional resumes since freshman year
Prior to COVID, students in this program had the opportunity to attend the National High School Dance Festival in Pittsburgh — the country’s largest dance festival for high school students. This festival also serves as a recruitment event where representatives from the top dance programs are present and eager to make admission offers.

 
“The CCA students who attended learned to market themselves, network, and even negotiate. We encouraged them to make a good impression while staying true to their identity in Christ,” said Ms. Henderson.
We encouraged them to make a good impression while staying true to their identity in Christ
Alumni of the Dance Endorsement program have attended colleges with distinguished dance programs, including ones at Christian colleges that prepared them to pursue dance opportunities in the ministry space.

Keeping Christ in the Center

 
Ms. Henderson and Mrs. Brown educate their students about being a light in the dance community — an industry that can be physically and mentally demanding at times.

“We want our dancers to know that they don’t have to be ashamed about being a Christian or sacrifice their biblical standards to fit in,” said Mrs. Brown. “Being set apart for Jesus in this industry may be challenging, but the Holy Spirit, our helper, makes it possible.”

“We want our dancers to know that they don’t have to be ashamed about being a Christian or sacrifice their biblical standards to fit in,”
Being set apart and honoring the Lord through dance has been taught in the Dance Endorsement program by engaging in discussion about song choices, intent behind movement, and costume choices.
[Mrs. Brown and Ms. Henderson] challenge parents to be involved and actively advocate on behalf of their children
“They are not just being molded into excellent dancers, but also women and men of God” said Ms. Henderson. “Whatever we do, we can do it for the Lord and find our identity in Him.”

Mrs. Brown and Ms. Henderson are not just training students, but their parents as well. They challenge parents to be involved and actively advocate on behalf of their children when it comes to expressing their creativity.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. –1 Peter 2:9

Celebrating Program Acceptances

Without further ado, please join us in congratulating the following Eagles who have been dancing with us since Middle School!

AJA SIMMS

 
Acceptances to-date:
 

ARIANA CYRUS

 
Acceptances to-date:
 

KIMORA ROBERTS

 
Acceptances to-date:
 

HILLARY FOSTER & ADELYN NICHOLSON

 
They may not be graduating seniors, but we also wanted to celebrate Hillary Foster (10th Grade) and Adelyn Nicholson (9th Grade) for their acceptance into Boston Ballet School’s Summer Dance Program! This is a highly competitive, five-week intensive program where students from around the world have the opportunity to develop their passion for dance under the instruction of internationally renowned faculty.

 

Inspiring the Next Generation of Dancers

If your child would like to experience what a day in the life is like as a dancer at CCA, consider registering him/her for our Summer Dance Intensive! This camp will be taking place June 14-25 for incoming 6th-12th grade students who have at least one year of dance experience. Learn more about this two-week program by emailing, Sandra Henderson at SandraH@CCAEagles.org.

“Creativity is God’s gift to us. Using our
creativity is our gift back to God.”
-Julia Cameron

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  • JACKIE FARRINGTON
    This was an amazing performance!! You could not tell me that I wasn't in New York. I have watched premier dance 3 times and I saw Jesus in each piece that was performed. I thank God we were able to attend and truly experience the love, peace of God move. Thank you to Mrs. Brown & Mrs. Henderson for having a heart for the Lord through dance. To each of you Principal Dancers that’s who you are in God’s eyes know that you all are chosen.You were born for this time to accomplish this masterpiece in dance. Stay true to Jesus and you will always accomplish whatever you set out to do that is pleasing to our God. Please let me know how I can get a copy of Make Art, or when will you be streaming again. Blessing,

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