Stories - Intertwining Faith and Dance

Renee has been dancing since she was 3 years old. At first, she didn’t feel like dance was anything special to her but stuck with it because she didn’t have anything else to do and was good at it. During a rough high school experience where she felt like she didn’t fit in and had nobody to talk to, dance became her way of expressing herself and communicating what she was struggling with. That’s when dance became “more than just a hobby” for her.

After high school, Renee decided to pursue a degree in dance. During that time she met a Christian dancer who taught her how to bring her faith into her dance. Renee found that once she grew in her faith, she learned how to dance for God instead of just for herself and dance became her prayer language. She soon realized that she could share the same things she learned about bringing her faith into her dance with other people. So as part of her senior recital, she choreographed a dance and taught people how to intertwine their faith and dance.

After she graduated with her dance degree, Renee taught dance for 5 years. “I got to work with the kids and I got to show them that dance was more than just performing.” Renee came to the realization that her passion was more about teaching others that God can be integrated in all parts of life, so she felt like God was telling her to set aside her dance. She went back to school and got her Master’s degree in education and began working at an elementary school. 

Later on during a study, she shared her senior recital video with someone and was encouraged that this could be a need in the community. She “prayed that maybe this was how God was bringing dance back” into her life and into the community. So Renee began a ministry at SCF called “Awaken Dance” where people of all ages and levels of experience could come and learn how to dance for God. She chose the name “Awaken” because when she started dancing for God, it awoken a new way of worship within her and wanted to awaken the same thing in other people. “I just want other people to experience that same intimacy with the Lord.”

Once I grew in my faith, I learned how to dance for God versus dancing for myself. And that’s where it became a prayer language versus just dancing.

Renee Gilbreth

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