Dance was her life. Dance was what she loved.
An interview with Cynthia Dewar of South Carolina Christian Dance Theater
Cynthia Dewar knows what it means to take a leap of faith. Over the years she’s taken many, but one changed her life forever.
As a young girl taking ballet in her mother’s studio, Dewar fell in love with dancing and the idea of teaching others how to dance. Eventually she went to study at the North Carolina School of the Arts, but as a teenager, she left dance behind to put God first.
To do this, she turned her focus from intense dance training to focusing more on God, but she felt as if the life she knew was over.
“That was a very pivotal point in my life. It was hard actually, but I knew God was going to do something with it.”
Slowly, Dewar started to realize God was growing in her a greater expectation of what He could do in and through her.
God set the stage for Dewar to return to dance and performing. Soon, she began teaching and helping other dancers how to develop their skills. Over the years, opportunities increased as she gained more teaching experience at studios in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. She went on to serve as an adjunct ballet instructor for the University of South Carolina and earned a teaching certificate from London’s Royal Academy of Dance.
Ten years ago when she moved to Columbia, South Carolina for her husband’s job, she felt the Lord telling her the time had come to take another leap of faith. That’s when she started the South Carolina Christian Dance Theater (SCCDT).
“I always dreamed of having a dance studio at some point. I never dreamed it would happen as it has.”
At first, she took her dance lessons to preschools where she offered classes to the tiniest of dancers. Eventually, the dance theater found a home and Dewar added additional teachers. Now, more than 250 students are learning to take their own leaps of faith during classes held at the studio.
“Each year we have actually discovered more about what it means to worship and what it means to pass on the heritage of Christian dance to the next group of kids.”
The knowledge and passion passed on to dancers is taking root, especially in 18-year-old Gracie Reeves.
Reeves took her first SCCDT class at the age of seven. Years of training and practice have helped her gracefully glide through every step, but she understands she isn’t just performing routines.
“The thing I enjoy most about dancing, especially with SCCDT, is the ability to worship and glorify God through my body.”
Reeves and other dancers spend many hours a week dancing, but they also spend time studying God’s Word and learning how to use dance as a tool for sharing the Gospel.
In 2013, SCCDT took some of the theater’s older dance students on a summer mission trip to Guyana, South America, where they used dance to minister to local churches and to share the love of Jesus.
After the trip, Dewar knew SCCDT needed to look for more mission trip opportunities. Since then, the theater has traveled to Allendale, South Carolina, Bulgaria and South Africa.
Reeves took part in the Bulgaria trip and experienced the joy of helping others grow closer to God.
“It was incredible to see how people broke out in freedom when they learned they too could use their dance as worship. People said that they had always wanted to glorify God with everything and now they finally felt they could,” Reeves recalled about the trip.
For Dewar, the choice to put God first so many years ago is helping other dancers learn to do so too. When she sees one of them tell someone about Jesus, her reaction is always the same.
“It drives me to tears, and I think that is so wonderful, because that’s what it’s all about.”
Kelly Coakley, a former news anchor, is a proud preacher’s wife and mother. She loves interviewing people and telling stories about lives changed by the Gospel.