FaithWorks Uses Dance to Enter Tough National Conversations

By Leigh Harper, January 31, 2017

Artistic expressions move us in ways lectures may not, engaging both our emotions and our intellect. Desiree Cocroft capitalized on this when she created FaithWorks, a 90-minute dance presentation that explores faith and justice, centering on the tense relationship between African-Americans and police. Cocroft is artistic director at Signature Dance Company, a Christian all-female dance company comprised of primarily African-Americans ranging in age from 3 to 40 years old, in Milwaukee.

“FaithWorks is about our faith in God and the work he has called us to do,” Cocroft says. “We can’t sit around idly [and watch the turmoil], but we also shouldn’t ignore the fact that there are things only God can do. FaithWorks is about how we [as African-American Christians] can bridge that gap.”

The show includes poetic recitations and a soundtrack ranging from John Legend to gospel artist Kirk Franklin to negro spirituals, among other diverse selections.

Earlier this month, the company performed FaithWorks for 500 public school students, concluding with a Q&A session. Students were encouraged to write their reflections on a talk-back board, a whiteboard installed in the hallway to continue the dialogue post-show. The company has also performed for the community and is preparing for a local college performance.

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