Dancing is a Spiritual Activity - Abiodun Babalola, Founder, Praise Dance Academy

In this exclusive interview with Mr Abiodun Babalola, he shares his dance story and how dancing is more than mere physical activity. As founder of the Praise Dance Academy and Nigerian Representative of the International Christian Dance Fellowship, he believes that gospel dancers must ensure that their spirituality is intact in order to minister effectively. Read the interview in full below.


Dancing is a Spiritual Activity - Abiodun Babalola, Founder Praise Dance Academy


New Man: Can we meet you sir?
Guest: I am Abiodun Babalola. I'm a biologist, dance educator, choreographer, dance instructor and the CEO of Praise Dance Academy, Akure, Ondo State Nigeria. I'm currently the Nigeria representative for International Christian Dance Fellowship. I coordinate few other dance ministries like the Youths for Christ choreography team and Gospel Choreography team. I'm passionate about talent discovery and deployment towards purposeful living.


New Man: Please, kindly share your salvation story
Guest: I was born in a Christian home but finally gave my life to Christ on February 20, 2002 at the Reinhard Bonnke Crusade. Before then, I have answered several altar calls but didn't really have a deep revelation of what I was doing. Being born in a Christian home doesn't make one born again except the person makes a personal decision to follow Christ which I have done. I have also rededicated my life and God has been helping me in different stages of my Christian life.
 

Dancing is a Spiritual Activity - Abiodun Babalola, Founder Praise Dance Academy



New Man: How has your journey as a Christian and a Dance Professional been so far? How do you merge both together?
Guest: It's been a great one with great challenges. Christianity is a walk with God and a determined race. Being a dance minister is a calling. It's beyond interest as I have discovered. As my passion, the more I think about it the more the revelation. Dance is a social activity as it has been observed but also a spiritual activity well reckoned with by God. Being a Christian and a professional dancer goes together as I have been able to mark my niche. Many people see dance as a means of entertainment alone but I see it as a means of ministration and to minister in light, my spirituality has to be intact for flow of revelation.

 
New Man: When did you start dancing? What inspires you to dance? Why do you dance?
Guest: I started dancing as a child in the children's department of my local church, Reconciliation and Liberty Bible Church. I had the opportunity to attend a programme organised by the Youths for Christ Ministry, Ondo State tagged 'Jesus Youth Festival' it was at the programme I was ministered to and I joined the Choreography and dance team of the Faith Based Organisation in 2003. I started gradually from there before taking it professionally and as a ministry. From there, I began to attend professional trainings and workshops which I still do till date. 
 

Dancing is a Spiritual Activity - Abiodun Babalola, Founder Praise Dance Academy

 
I discovered that I'm passionate about movement generally as I have taken classes in martial arts but along the line I discovered my purpose in dance which I stuck to. Dancing gives me unusual joy which I don't derive elsewhere. It enhances my creativity and I observed that I'm at my peak of productivity when I engage in it. With time, it became a part of me.

 
New Man: What is the vision behind Praise Dance Academy?
Guest: Praise Dance Academy is a Christian dance organisation which exists as a ministry and as a company. As a ministry, our vision is to show forth the praise of God through dance and reach out with the Gospel of dance.  On the other hand as a company, our focus is to create a positive environment for artistic engagement, talent discovery and exhibition. We participate in community development activities through the use of dance art to address societal ills. In all, we are a ministry called out to use dance as a tool of change in the body of Christ and in the society at large.
 

New Man: Seeing Christians dancing to Gospel music is refreshing. Was this part of the vision for the Academy?
Guest: The academy is interested in building dancers through the instrumentality of the word. We focus on character moulding and talent development. Dance is a spiritual activity and as a dance minister, you must be engrossed with the spirit of God to minister effectively. We are very much interested in the spirituality of members as well as their dance skills. Both are our keen interest at the Academy.
 
 
New Man: Seeing that dance is a form of art that is very expressive, is the Academy also interested in keeping the dancers only expressive to music that is edifying?
Guest: We emphasize on liturgical dance which is a Christian expression of praises. We are keen about edification above anything else as that's our greatest call. So, depending on the message per time we use a collection of Gospel, edifying and inspirational songs to communicate with our audience.

 
New Man: How is the Praise Dance Academy structured to build up the faith/spirituality as well as dancing skills in the students?
Guest: Members in the praise dance academy are built up during our structured rehearsals, training hours, retreats and special programmes. Our source is Christ and we create ample time for fellowship in which prayers and intercession, worship, praises and exhortation are our preliminary processes before we start dance. Members have been built up with these processes and time for dances too are not interrupted except in special cases.
 
 
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New Man: I don't know much about teaching dance but I know children can be a lot. How do you manage teaching/tutoring children?
Guest: A dance teacher that wants to add teaching kids as a specialty should be tolerant, patient and have the ability to simplify difficult moves. Asides that, he or she must be a child psychologist, an encourager and a mentor. Children are open to learn new movements and they derive great joy in dance classes. Dance classes teach team work, respect, endurance, flexibility, expression and much more to kids. With my years of experience, I won't say it's that easy to teach children dance but I have taken that as a specialty with the quality I was able to build and the trainings I subjected myself to.

 
New Man: What has been your greatest challenge so far in the Academy?
Guest: Challenges are hurdles in the race of life and they are inevitable. There are so many challenges at the Praise Dance Academy but the Lord has been helping us. One of the greatest challenges is funding. In advanced countries, there are funding and support platforms for people in the industry but we don't have such here. Funding has been a major challenge that if solved, we will be able to expand our coast and do more meaningful projects for the advancement of mankind. The societal thoughts about dancers too is gradually wearing off but it still exists as we still have people with unwavering, negative views about dance.


New Man:  What programmes should followers and dance lovers expect in the future?
Guest: We have many beautiful ideas and we have been able to stage a good number of mind blowing events.  People should look forward to regular and new editions of Gospel of Dance, Kids Dance Arena, Summer Dance Classes, and Dancers Day Out/Dance Recital among others. We hope to take dance classes to rural areas as a form of community development because there's a whole lot to learn in dance. Family dance competitions and couple dance classes are programmes people should look forward to as we have templates for such programmes though we haven't staged them yet. 

 
New Man: What inspired your annual programme, Gospel of Dance?
Guest: The inspiration is divine.  As opposed to the general belief about dance being worldly and just for entertainment, we came to light to paint the scriptures in pictures and postures with movement through dance and artistic display. We believe choreographers and dancers minister through the use of Gospel and inspirational songs thereby conveying the message to the audience through specific choreographed concept and spirit filled songs that communicates a biblical and conceptual message. Gospel of dance is a platform to show forth the divinities creative dimension with the use of dance.


New Man: What do you think of the Gospel music and dance industry? What tangible changes do you think the Gospel music industry has recorded overtime?
Guest: The Gospel music industry in Nigeria is thriving but we need more Gospel musicians with divine inspiration. That a person sings to God doesn't really make it a Gospel music. What makes a Gospel music is the lifestyle of godliness which the artist in connection with the lyrics projects. The same also applies to the Gospel dance industry. We bless God for the Gospel music industry as we have people who have been revealed over time and many changes have been recorded overtime. These changes are seen in concerts all round the country and various platforms for ministration. The Gospel dance industry has not really gained much weight as expected. We need more platforms for dance ministries, we need more churches to see dancing as a ministry and dancers as minstrels they can engage during church programmes and events.



New Man: How do churches and ministries accept the concept of dance, especially because of the new genres we have today? Are these dance styles (especially gospel hippop) receptive in churches and how has been the reception so far?
Guest: Dance as a form of ministry has not really been acceptable up to expectation but we believe with time and better exposure, it will be accepted. Some styles are still tagged worldly so we advice Gospel dance ministries to be able to dissect dance steps and delete the non edifying moves out.


New Man: What do you see in the future for Praise Dance Academy?
Guest: Praise Dance Academy is a promising dance ministry. I see us having our world class dance studio with different labs for different dance experimentation. We will be registered with the International Dance Council so that we can issue recognised certification to students.  We also hope to have dance courses and have students study dance for a period of time. That way, they can become dance ministers either as full time or part-time.  Alongside our proposed dance studio, we will also have an event hall to carry out our different programmes. A recreational garden for outdoor events and recreative activities and then we will have have branches all over the world to achieve our motto which says 'impacting the world through dance'

 
New Man: What advice do you have for Gospel Dancers and other Gospel creatives?
Guest: I will like to encourage Gospel dancers to be more creative and do more collaboration. Gospel dance organisations are few in Nigeria but in advanced countries we have seen liturgical dance ministries in their manifold forms. It takes the 4 D's to progress in this industry and that is discipline, diligence, dedication and  determination. We need more creativity and innovation to be able to gain recognition. This applies to other Gospel creatives too.






   

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  1. This is a good read as I happen to be a dancer myself. For fear of engaging secular music, I allowed the skill to rest but thanks for sharing this. It's really encouraging

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  2. Let the vision continue it will soon pay off, impacting lives with dance.

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  3. I love this..keep on at it brother, you shall be celebrated the world over

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