Two CCCU Institutions Dance Their Way to National Acclaim

July 19, 2016
Anderson University IN dance team photo by Dale Pickett
The Anderson University (IN) dance team. Photo by Dale Pickett
Belhaven dance team photo by Eric Lott
The Belhaven University dance team. Photo by Eric Lott
WASHINGTON – It’s an experience that not many college dancers get to have: performing on stage in front of sold-out crowds at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. But in June, dance ensembles from two CCCU universities were part of a select group of college teams that earned the chance to do just that.

Ensembles from Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana, and Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi earned the chance to dance at the American College Dance Association’s 2016 National College Dance Festival by being one of two ensembles in their respective regions to dance at the Kennedy Center.

“We had a lot of fun, and it was a morale boost for us – that a little school could achieve so much when our department isn’t even 10 years old,” says Rachael Sutherland, a rising senior at Anderson. “We were able to push our shoulders back and put our chins up. … It made us feel more pride for ourselves and for our school.” 

“Participation at the ACDA National Festival is a great honor for our students,” says Cynthia Newland, associate professor of dance at Belhaven. “It has afforded them an opportunity to make connections with a variety of dance practitioners in the field and as a bonus will look great on their resumé.”

Both the ensembles from Belhaven and Anderson viewed the opportunity as unique and creative chance to share their God-given talents with audiences. In addition to their performances at the Kennedy Center, Belhaven’s dancers performed at a worship service at a church on Capitol Hill – a smaller venue but one that is just as important, Newland says.

“Our culture has a way of esteeming artists that make it to ‘the big stage.’ However, true servant artists are ones who use and present their gifts in submission to their calling and their God,” she says. “I could not have been more proud to see our students equally give of themselves at these two very different venues.” 

That faith-centered foundation gave Anderson’s ensemble a different focus than most dance teams who made it to the festival, Sutherland says.

“We knew we weren’t just going to the Kennedy Center as another school dancing to show off what we’ve worked so hard for – that is an aspect of it, but we looked at it an opportunity to show who we stand for and that we dance for the glory of God,” she says. “It wasn’t just putting Anderson on a platform, but it was putting God on a platform and showing people that we are a Christian college and that we are putting God at the forefront, even though we’re not necessarily doing a quote-unquote ‘liturgical piece.’” 


The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 180 Christian institutions around the world. The 117 member campuses in North America are all regionally accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences and whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. In addition, 63 affiliate campuses from 20 countries are part of the CCCU. The CCCU’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit 

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities offers nine off-campus study programs, collectively branded BestSemester®, which expand learning opportunities for students from CCCU campuses and are designated as culture-shaping or culture-crossing programs. Culture-shaping BestSemester programs are: American Studies Program (Washington, D.C.), Contemporary Music Center (Nashville) and Los Angeles Film Studies Center (Los Angeles). Culture-crossing BestSemester programs are: Australia Studies Centre, Latin American Studies Program, Middle East Studies Program, Oxford Summer Programme, Scholars’ Semester in Oxford and Uganda Studies Program. Visit for program details.