CHIPLEY - Like powerful yet controlled waves bouncing off the bank of a stream, the children's feet stayed planted as their limbs flung side to side. Chosen and Anointed's interpretative dancing and driven facial expressions coupled with the majestic tune of gospel singer Maranda Curtis' "Open Heaven" could move even the sternest heart to joyful tears.
"Slow down," Alice Holmes instructed her three children during a regular practice in their living room. "Like that," she added, acknowledging their obedience.
Her children - Aaden, 9, Nevaeh, 8, and Taylor, 7, who perform under the name Chosen and Anointed Dance Ministry - have performed praise dancing, an interpretative dance some African-American churches incorporate into their worship, for several months. They practice at home twice a week and have grown to become, not only dedicated to the dance, but a local emblem of the art - regularly performing at their home church Yes, Lord Deliverance COGIC, 739 Seventh Street, and recent Black History Month events and local schools.
"If we get offered to go somewhere, we just go," Holmes said. "I don't turn down an offer simply because they enjoy it, they love ministering to people. We try to at least touch one soul."
The group began with Taylor doing praise dance solos. Eventually, a group was formed between the three of them. All of the children are involved in other activities, but they do not miss an opportunity to practice and perform.
As Curtis's backup singers chanting of "miracles, signs and wonders" began to taper off, it seemed heaven had delivered something to everyone present.
Each child has their own way of imbuing the deep seated expressions that comes along with the style of dance. As Nevaeh's eyes are on her mother throughout the practice and
the bubbliest and youngest Taylor watches the crowd, Aaden's eyes are fixed on where his finger tips go.
"It always matters about God," he said. "Even though a lot of my friends at school come to it, it doesn't really matter to me, because - like momma always says - it doesn't matter about the crowd or anybody, you're not doing it for them, you're doing it for the Lord."
"So, I always keep that in my head, so when I dance, I do it with my all."