Redefining the hip hop movement

Enjoy Christian hip-hop? Eastern has a new dance ministry separate from the dance program and unlike any other.

“We are redefining hip-hop as one of the hottest ways to minister to God,” Emily Cusimano said. Cusimano is a sophomore history major and the co-creator of the ministry.

Redefined was formed at the beginning of this year by Cusimano and first-year dance major Jessica Bryan. The group is 13 members strong.

Auditions were held shortly after the beginning of this semester. Cuts were made based on commitment and understanding of the ministry of God, not dancing ability.

Cusimano had considered the possibility of Redefined last year, but the thought became a reality when she met Bryan at the beginning of this semester. Cusimano did not have any formal dance training, and needed a partner with previous dance experience.

“I didn’t know anyone [at Eastern], so Emily got the group together, and I choreographed the routine for the variety show and Midnight Madness,” Bryan said.

“We had the vision of having a dance team, not for the dancers, but for the movement,” Cusimano said. “We feel hip-hop is an amazing form of communication.”

Junior communications major Chautauqua Henderson learned about the auditions through Bryan. She had always appreciated the art of dance and good choreography.

“Hip-hop [dancers] make me want to move like them,” Henderson said.

Sophomore Carlton Coote is one of two males in the group.

“Emily told me when they had auditions, they needed a guy,” Coote said. “I like doing it for God under the ministry of dance.” Coote wants people who watch the routines to see more than the movement but to see that “God is in all things.”

For sophomore communications major Janika Veasley, Redefined is a way to have fellowship.

“[Redefined] is more energetic and a different way to praise God,” she said.

Veasley also mentioned that she had tried a few movement-related clubs on campus but did not have the calling to continue them.

“I’ve always loved the hip-hop beat,” she said. “It’s easy for me to make up dances.”

At this suburban liberal arts institution, urban ministries are in high demand. For Cusimano, a vision for the future includes going to Philadelphia and bringing the art of Christian hip-hop movement into the public schools.

“God gave us the ability to move our bodies and it will be to His blessing,” Cusimano said.

“Redefined is an energetic way to praise God through Christian hip-hop, in a tasteful way,” Veasley said. “No provocative moves.”

“We’ve been blessed,” Cusimano said. “We do not want this team to be a status symbol. No Facebook group.”

The group will be performing at the EU basketball game on Nov. 30. If you’re interested in joining Redefined, auditions will be held at the end of the spring 2007 semester.

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