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September 14, 2010

Austria: The Joy of Dancing

Creative ministries, such as hip hop dance, are reaching youth and young adults in Austria and filling people's hearts with the joy of the Lord.

  • Opportunity

    From fashion show choreography to ad campaigns and television, Alamande Belfor is a recognizable face in Austria. Through this exposure, he has many opportunities to share the love of Christ with others.

  • Prayer

    Rachel Zuch prays with members of the Nevaeh dance troupe as they prepare for a dance performance at a street festival in the Hernals district, where the Beheimgasse church is located.

  • Preparation

    Many hours of preparation go into each performance. Not all of the dancers are Christian, but they are surrounded by Christ's love during rehearsal times and while performing together.

  • Key Location

    The Beheimgasse Baptist Church is located approximately one mile from the heart of Vienna, Austria. and offers plenty of room for multiple ministries and events, including the Neveah dance rehearsals.

Hip hop dance is a unique outreach used to connect with youth and young adults at Beheimgasse Baptist Church in Austria, a church that TEAM missionaries Rachel and Dan Zuch helped start in 1992.

Church member Wolfgang Novak got the vision for using dance to reach young people after seeing a concert with his daughter. The idea is to use hip hop to gain an audience at shows and street performances and through inviting young people to join the group. At their first practice, 23 youth showed up. Many of the dancers have stayed with the group into young adulthood and see Nevaeh, the group’s name (created by writing the word heaven backwards), as a way to witness to their friends. “We are a different kind of group. We are not doing this to draw attention to ourselves or be famous. We show the love of God in the way we dance and the message we share,” said Novak. The group’s dance instructor, Alamande Belfor, is one of the best-known choreographers in Vienna. His company, Big Smile Productions, produces everything from fashion shows to dance performances. Alamande came to Christ in Holland after watching the lives of some Christian dancers performing on the streets. “Not everyone in Big Smile is a Christian, but we pray together before every event and people are amazed,” Alamande said. “I started out as a business and law student, but I didn’t finish my studies because dancing was taking so much of my time. It’s my passion. God has used that passion because I have been able to reach so many more people as an entertainer than I could as an accountant.”

The message that Alamande conveys to his students and audiences is joy and fullness in life. “I know that I am not perfect, but knowing the forgiveness of God and telling people about Jesus makes everyday a new and wonderful day,” he said. That kind of joy is infectious; as is evident when watching Nevaeh perform at a street festival near the Beheimgasse Church. A large crowd of children joined Alamande and the dance group on the stage to dance and have a great time. It was also a chance for Alamande to share his testimony, a message backed-up by the love and joy demonstrated by all the dancers.

-Written by Ray Scott
-Photography by Robert Johnson

[Originally published in TEAMHorizons, September 2010]

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