By LINDA M. LINONIS
The Kingdomites Biblical Dance Academy is in step with the passage from Scripture “Let them praise His name in the dance ...” in Psalm 149:3.
Debra Ingram, director of the Bride of Christ Worship Team, founded the academy and is its dean.
She explained she based the name on kingdom, referring to a citizen of the kingdom of God, and Levite, one called to minister.
Ingram said she has been dancing in church for 16 years since “the Lord came into her life.”
That was when she was 40 years old. “I had been dancing all my life,” she said. “I changed partners when I got right with God.” She gave up the secular dancing and moved to liturgical style.
On Nov. 1, she said she “gave my life to the Lord” and on Nov. 8, was baptized. Ingram said she believes she felt “the full power of God” and “took off dancing.” God’s healing power made that possible. Ingram is a member of Touch Heaven Canfield Church,
Ingram said she has attended dance classes periodically including sessions at Ballet Western Reserve. To become versed in liturgical dance, Ingram took lessons from Karen Clark-Green, a singer, actor, author, choreographer, speaker, minister and playwright, who is known as an “Apostle of The Arts.” But, Ingram said learning about dance is an ongoing process and she continues to study.
“The academy is for liturgical dancers who want a deeper understanding and revelation of how dance advances the kingdom of God,” she said. “Dance is a ministry.”
Ingram sees it as a journey of learning for herself and students. The journey began in 2009 when Linda Daniels, a member of the Youngstown City and Regional Prayer Team, asked Ingram to “do something” at National Day of Prayer. The team hosts an annual gathering on the square downtown with speakers, music and presentations. “Linda told me the Lord would give me something,” Ingram said. And so it happened.
Ingram involved 19 worship dancers from 12 churches, who were inspired “by the sweet presence of the Lord.” She realized “there was more to it” when she was motivated to “bring together a dance team.” Those involved, she said, “didn’t want it to end.”
So, the Bride of Christ Worship Team “was birthed out of National Day of Prayer,” she said. Ingram said she “shared the vision” with others who “had a heart for worship.” Since the prayer day in 2009, the team has participated in 72 faith-based events.
The team has 15 members, ranging in age from 16 to nearing 60. “The majority just have the heart to dance,” Ingram said.
Through the academy and more structured classes and rehearsals, the team and other dancers “will perfect the gift,” Ingram said. Classes will offer students a “deeper biblical knowledge” of how dance is way to worship.
The team wears different outfits to dance; one feature a camouflage design. “The message is clear ... we’re warriors for God,” Ingram said. That being said, she added, the liturgical dancing isn’t “entertainment” but a means to minister to the Gospel. “We’re in the world but not of the world,” she said.
Ingram said she “depends on the Holy Spirit” for her choreography. “The Lord works through us,” she said.
D’Treal Bennett, 19, a psychology major at Ohio State University, said she heard about the liturgical dance team and wanted to be a part of it. She said she sees it “as a way to build my relationship with the Lord and have fellowship with other dancers.”
Ryan Allen, 21, said he “felt the call from the Lord” and “prayed about it.” Allen said he had no previous dance experience but has learned through participation. He is a member of Sword of the Lord Global Ministries.