SonLight Dance (now known as Soul to Sole Choreography) began in 1994 under the direction of Mary Margaret Bawden. The name for SonLight came from John 12:35-36: “The man who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going; put your trust in the light while you have it so that you may become Sons-of-Light.” Alongside dance ministry, the Soul to Sole Choreography method to transform dance movement into prayer-in-motion began to develop. Soul to Sole Choreography was formed as a California nonprofit charitable trust in the Fall of 2003 and is recognized as tax exempt by the Internal Revenue Service and California Franchise Tax Board.
In addition to conceptual choreography, Mary Bawden loves the art of dance. From early childhood, she enjoyed its beauty, creativity, physicality, and communicative power. Recently Mary has noticed that the culture around mainstream children’s dance has changed in the 21st century. That shift has normalized an unhealthy trend – the hypersexualization of children under 12 in adult costumes, choreography and music. As someone who was transformed by dance as a child, this trend breaks her heart as Mary wants children to enjoy the same benefits from movement that cemented her love of dance many years ago. That focus translates into a desire to advocate for healthy, age-appropriate guidelines wherever dance is taught – to protect children and the art of dance. She hopes to find others who want to partner with her through the creation of DA:NCE.
Mary has a love for the medium of dance that transcends its visual beauty. She sees dance as a metaphor for the movement that we use to choreograph daily life. It is her hope that the picture she presents in prayer-in-motion as well as advocacy for children through DA:NCE might clarify how we should move through life with prayer not only on our lips but through our actions.
Mary Margaret Bawden is available to speak about Christian dance ministry or the sexualization of children under 12 in dance through the resources created in Soul to Sole Choreography or DA:NCE. To do that, use our contact form here.
To support Soul to Sole Choreography or DA:NCE financially, you may click on the “Donate” button below or send a check to “Soul to Sole Choreography”, 300 E. State Street, Suite 430, Redlands, California 92373. Checks should be made out to Soul to Sole Choreography. Feel free to specify how you wish your donation to be used.
About the Director
Mary Margaret Bawden felt God call her into prayer-in-motion at fifteen years of age soon after she asked Jesus into her heart as her personal Savior. Although highly trained in ballet, she found herself attracted to the varied choreographic approaches found in modern dance. As a result, she received a B.A. in modern dance from UC Riverside in 1975; for a short time after graduation, she became the dance instructor for Crafton College as well as Mt. San Jacinto Jr. College in the Southern California area. The arrival of her 3 children in 1976, 1978 and 1981 followed and changed her priorities in movement until her children grew older.
Soul to Sole Choreography placed in the non-professional finalist category of the highly acclaimed ‘Festival of the Stars’ choreography festival held in Palm Springs at the McCallum Theatre in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Shea New, the founder/director of the festival, stated that the choice for the fall festival finalists was ‘difficult due to the overwhelming amount of quality talent submitted.’ Choreography finalists included entries from Argentina, Florida, Texas, New York, Arizona, Nevada, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Alongside the educational movement foundation for worship ministry, Mary has taught choreography and/or DA:NCE materials for the National Sacred Dance Guild Conference, the CAHPERD(California health, physical education, recreation and dance) dance workshop, the Saddleback Worship Conference, “Raise the Barre” as well as the State CDEA(California Dance Educator’s Association) Conference and the NDEO(National Dance Educator’s Organization) National Conference.
In Redlands, California, God has used Mary’s love of prayer-in-motion to design scripture for women’s Bible studies, church services and Children’s Christmas musicals at her home church. Since 1995, the much of Mary’s time has focused on a book entitled ‘Dance is Prayer in Motion: Soul to Sole Choreography for Church Dance Ministry.’ The chapters include information on dance movement foundation, leadership, choreography tools, the 6-step choreography method, the rehearsal process, and a chapter for pastors who want clear expectations for setting up a dance ministry in their own church. Part of the written material also shares how God has given her a vision to structure movement groups so that everyone can learn how to choreograph with or without a movement background. In 2006, Mary furthered her education when she received a Master of Arts in Worship with an emphasis in dance from Hope International University in Fullerton, California.
From Mary’s point of view, prayer-in-motion must be purposeful and conceptually clear. Of course, clarity also informs her passion to communicate the benefits of dance for children so that they are not hypersexualized with adult costumes, choreography and music. Her background includes a California secondary and junior college teaching credential as well as many years as an inductive Bible study leader. She has been involved with Bible Study Fellowship, Kay Arthur’s Precepts Bible Studies as well as women’s bible studies at Trinity Evangelical Church in Redlands, CA where Mary and her husband Richard attend.