Current Status: Alumni
Graduation Year: MA '06
Mary Bawden (MA ‘06) is deeply passionate about dance, not just as a hobby or performing art, but as an expression of worship through “prayer in motion.” Her lifelong calling to praise through dance led Mary to found a non-profit organization called Soul to Sole Choreography in 1994. The mission of Soul to Sole is to “use planned movement as an expression of worship (praise, beauty, teaching, celebration, and/or prayer) to glorify God during church services and ministry situations with a specific choreography concept and song/text that communicates a biblical, conceptual message.”
Mary’s organization also addresses the overwhelming issue of the sexualization of children in dance. Such exploitation compelled Bawden to compile materials that raise awareness and combat this offensive abuse of the art of dance, which she released under the banner of DA:NCE (Dance Awareness: No Child Exploited). In 2016, Bawden spoke at the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) Conference in Houston Texas on this topic and continues to advocate for a medium free of exploitation.
“Dance is a wonderful worship and art form and should never be distorted and used to objectify children,” Mary states. She and her team work diligently to promote dance in its purest form, fight against abuse, and protect potential victims.
Since its inception, Soul to Sole Chorography has been teaching churches to incorporate dance into worship settings and utilize it in ministry. Mary has also released a book on Church Dance Ministry entitled Dance is Prayer in Motion: Soul to Sole Choreography for Christian Dance Ministry.
Mary’s love for dance stemmed from an early age and has continued throughout her life. She received her BA in Modern Dance from the University of California at Riverside, and later earned a Masters Degree in worship with an emphasis in dance at HIU. During her academic pursuit Mary also spent many years involved in ministry leadership at Trinity Church in Redlands, California.