I’m continuing my interview with dancer Steve Rooks. Steve began his dance training in Washington D.C. with Jan Van Dyke and Greg Reynolds, after graduating with honors from Dartmouth College. He joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in the summer of 1981, and was a Principal Dancer with the company until 1991. In October 1989, Mr. Rooks’ solo, Outside, was selected to be presented in the New Choreographers series during the Graham Company's fall season at the City Center Theater in New York, and one of his works, Cool River, became a part of that company's 1996-1997 Repertory after its World Premiere at Lincoln Center in August 1996.
Mr. Rooks is currently Resident Choreographer and Associate Professor of Dance at Vassar College, and was one of the founding faculty members for the Dance Degree Program at Howard University. He is also a Guest Instructor at the Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham Schools of Dance. Steve would like to thank Jesus Christ for all that has happened to him.
LM: How has your faith affected or impacted your passion for dance?
SR: Particularly now as a teacher, I feel it is a God-given honor to dance and to serve others (as a mentor/teacher) through dance. I don’t think that I could love the art if the Lord had not given me that love. It is pretty impossible for any dancer not to feel that there is a “heavenly endowment” that he/she has been given to experience the world of dance, and I believe that as one passionately seeks to know the giver of all good gifts, it will ultimately lead that person to the feet of Christ.
LM: Have you faced challenges from the world because of your faith?
SR: Yes, but not any different from those challenges that most Christians face as we live in our world. I have had to turn down a couple of opportunities that might have been lucrative but would have put me in a questionable light. And there have been and will always be scoffers who simply believe it’s not possible to call yourself a dancer and serve Jesus.
LM: Have you found that Christians don't understand why you are involved in the arts?
SR: As a young believer many years ago, there were many Christians who simply thought that dance was much too worldly and that God really couldn’t be pleased with any dancer working in a secular world. I have had well-meaning saints tell me that they felt that God wanted me to start a Christian dance school or that dance would only be a pit stop on the way to what the Lord “really wants me to do.”
But things are different now, and there is an entire generation of Christians who are solid in their faith and feel called to serve God in their craft—whether that be in ministry at their home church, or as a Broadway artist, concert dancer, or studio director. In the past, we have made God “too small” and I feel that Christians shunned away from many arenas that desperately needed to have the light of truth. But this is a great day, and I believe that we will see an even greater calling for believer artists!