Our Dance Connects People to the Faith, Offering a Message of Hope - Abiodun Babalola

Our Dance Connects People to the Faith, Offering a Message of Hope

In this interview with Abiodun Babalola, he shares 

You recently concluded the 2023 edition of the gospel of dance. Please tell us about it.

Gospel of dance 2023 went well to the glory of God. It was attended by a good number of people who reverenced dance as a gospel tool and for social change. It lasted 2 hours 30 minutes and at the end, the audience were left in an array of overwhelming joy. It featured 8 dances altogether from the Gospel of dance team which are dominated by Praise Dance Academy members, Gospel  Choreography Team, Kinderschuul Dance Academy and Praise Dance Academy Kids. It featured dance genres like Ballet, Contemporary and modern dance, Afro pop, Salsa and African Contemporary Dance. The audience reaction sparkled emotions that can only be described as awesome. The dances connected people to their faith and offered a message of hope. The dancers poured their souls into every dance, painted the air with melody and played a vital role in the magnificent masterpiece. They didn’t just dance; they ministered, touched hearts, sparked faith, and ignited hope through the language of movement.

What Inspired the theme of the Gospel of dance?

As the world faced seemingly insurmountable challenges, a different rhythm began to pulse within our hearts. The vision for Gospel of Dance 2023 bloomed not from sunny skies and carefree joy, but from the fertile ground of adversity. In a world saturated with complaints and hardship, we yearned to paint a different picture, one danced in hues of unwavering hope.

It was a time we were surrounded by challenges that tested our faith and we believe that in the face of adversity, Art has the power to heal, inspire, and uplift. It was in this strength we were inspired to theme it ELPIZO- meaning hope. Hope, a seed amidst the storm: We saw the struggles, the anxieties, and the weight of a world seemingly teetering on the edge. Yet, nestled amongst the shadows, a flicker remained – the human spirit's unyielding capacity for hope.

We had a major theatrical dance that was channeled to the message of hope to the dieing world and with Nigeria in retrospect. These narratives weren't mere entertainment; they were beacons, illuminating paths for others to navigate their own storms.

This was the driving force behind Gospel of Dance 2023 – a hope-fueled endeavor born from the ashes of adversity. We danced not just for ourselves, but for every weary soul seeking a glimmer of light. And in the synchronized steps, the passionate leaps, and the unwavering smiles, we dared to believe that hope, like a relentless flame, can dance us into a brighter future.

What challenges do you face in the course of hosting the event and how do you look forward to battling these challenges?

We had quite a number of challenges while preparing for Gospel of dance 2023 some of which were Finances, Inabilities to secure funding and sponsorship. We understand the state of the economy at this period and so many were saving for future events but we were able to conquer this challenges in a way by early sales of ticket under the early bird category, writing to individuals and passionate parents in the Academy, Engaging in dance teaching in private schools etc. The team members also gave toward the course so despite the challenges we were still able to pay some bills till after the event. We hope to battle this challenges by seeking for more sponsors and collaborators for the event, this will help with publicity and also lesser expenses in expenditure.

Give us a sneak peek into how the praise dance academy operates. How do you host your classes? are they on regular basis or occasional?

The Praise Dance Academy is a dynamic team of young people committed to using the art of dance to inspire, uplift and share Gods love with the world. We exist as a ministry and also a company. As a ministry, our aim is to spread the Gospel of dance so everything we do revolves round that. At the ministry level, our activities are; Dance retreat, Dance ministration, Gospel of dance concert and hangout. As a company, our aim is to create a positive environment for artistic engagement, talent discovery and exhibition. We have a specialized kid’s class for weekend and the team class holds twice weekly. We train, teach and rehearse during the meeting times. We organize summer dance classes for the purpose of intensifying on dance training.

As at when you started the Praise Dance Academy, were there oppositions from friends and family? How did they buy the idea you wanted to go into dance on a professional level? 

I was already a passionate dancer who first finished his first degree when I started so my family and friends were already aware of my passion but notwithstanding there were few agitations on the depth of the extent I will go, how I will pay my bills, feed my family and how fortunate a career in dance will be. From this part of the world, People don’t really see dance as a professional job people can engage in, some believe another trade can be added because of off seasons. I was able to build a business round it while furthering on my academics that in a way helped me though there are still oppositions as they are things people face while trying to make a difference. Im in a part where we receive little or no funding for artistic events but we are putting in best practices to achieve great and tenable result that will in turn be beneficial.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years as far as Gospel of Dance is concerned?

In five years, I don't envision myself in one place, but weaving a vibrant tapestry of Gospel dance across continents. As a dancer and dance ministry founder, my dream is to spread the joy and power of movement to inspire new generations and connect like-minded souls. Here's how I see it unfolding:

1. Global Engagements:

  • Internationally recognized: My dance ministry wouldn't be confined by borders. I see myself collaborating with other dance ministries around the world, participating in festivals, and leading workshops, exchanging knowledge and igniting new flames of passion. Imagine sharing the stage with gospel dance groups from Canada. United States, Australia, Brazil, Kenya, or the Philippines, creating a global symphony of faith and movement.
  • Cross-cultural collaborations: Let's transcend differences and celebrate diversity! Hosting workshops and retreats with dancers from varied backgrounds will be a cornerstone of my mission. Imagine fusing African rhythms with Korean storytelling or blending Polynesian grace with European ballet, all within the framework of Gospel dance.

2. Amplifying the Message:

  • Beyond the stage: Gospel of dance isn't just steps and costumes; it's a story, a message of hope and faith. I see myself authoring books that delve deeper into the theology and artistry of Gospel dance, offering practical guidance and inspiring new practitioners. Blog posts will keep the conversation flowing, sparking discussions and sharing experiences like a digital campfire.
  • Reaching homes and hearts: Television and radio hold immense potential to bring Gospel dance into countless living rooms. Imagine hosting engaging shows that educate, entertain, and inspire. Interviews, demonstrations, and live performances can reach a vast audience, breaking down barriers and fostering a global community of believers through movement.

3. Connecting on a deeper level

  • Cross-country concerts and workshops: Imagine traveling across the country, hosting workshops and concerts that weave together dance, music, and storytelling. These events wouldn't just showcase talent; they would be transformative experiences, offering opportunities for spiritual growth, personal expression, and community building.
  • Interactive platform: A dedicated website or online forum would become a virtual hub for all things about Gospel dance. Imagine a space where dancers from all over the world can connect, share videos, discuss ideas, and collaborate on projects. This interactive platform would keep the flames of passion burning even when physical distances separate us.
These are just glimpses of a future painted with the vibrant colors of Gospel dance. This path wouldn't be without its challenges, but the potential impact, the sheer joy of connecting through movement, and the opportunity to share my passion with the world fuel my determination.

In five years, I see myself not just as a dancer or a founder, but as a bridge, connecting hearts, spreading hope, and celebrating the universal language of Gospel dance. This journey starts now, with every step, every beat, every story told through movement.

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