Mary Bawden

Mary Bawden

Expert Topics:

Hyper-sexualization of children under 12 in adult costumes, choreography and music.

Technology and the sexualization of young girls.

Dance should not be yet another way for girls and boys to be morphed into sexual objects.

Depicting any underage child, whether fictional or real, in a sexualized way perpetuates systemic abuse of young girls and normalizes the sexualization of minors.

Mary Bawden

Mary Bawden

  • Founder, DA:NCE (Dance Awareness No Child Exploited)
  • Charter Member, Voices Against Trafficking
  • Author and Dance Educator
  • Advocate for healthy, age-appropriate guidelines wherever dance is taught – to protect children and the art of dance.
  • Provides education and resources to end the sexualization of children in dance.
  • SonLight Dance (now known as Soul to Sole Choreography) began in 1994 under the direction of Mary Margaret Bawden.
  • Soul to Sole Choreography was formed as a California nonprofit charitable trust in the Fall of 2003
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Mary Margaret Bawden felt God call her into prayer-in-motion at fifteen years of age soon after she asked Jesus into her heart as her personal Savior. Although highly trained in ballet, she found herself attracted to the varied choreographic approaches found in modern dance. As a result, she received a B.A. in modern dance from UC Riverside in 1975; for a short time after graduation, she became the dance instructor for Crafton College as well as Mt. San Jacinto Jr. College in the Southern California area. The arrival of her 3 children in 1976, 1978 and 1981 followed and changed her priorities in movement until her children grew older.

Soul to Sole Choreography placed in the non-professional finalist category of the highly acclaimed ‘Festival of the Stars’ choreography festival held in Palm Springs at the McCallum Theatre in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Shea New, the founder/director of the festival, stated that the choice for the fall festival finalists was ‘difficult due to the overwhelming amount of quality talent submitted.’ Choreography finalists included entries from Argentina, Florida, Texas, New York, Arizona, Nevada, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Alongside the educational movement foundation for worship ministry, Mary has taught choreography and/or DA:NCE materials for the National Sacred Dance Guild Conference, the CAHPERD(California health, physical education, recreation and dance) dance workshop, the Saddleback Worship Conference,  “Raise the Barre” as well as the State CDEA(California Dance Educator’s Association) Conference and the NDEO(National Dance Educator’s Organization) National Conference.

In Redlands, California, God has used Mary’s love of prayer-in-motion to design scripture for women’s Bible studies, church services and Children’s Christmas musicals at her home church. Since 1995, the much of Mary’s time has focused on a book entitled ‘Dance is Prayer in Motion: Soul to Sole Choreography for Church Dance Ministry.’ The chapters include information on dance movement foundation, leadership, choreography tools, the 6-step choreography method, the rehearsal process, and a chapter for pastors who want clear expectations for setting up a dance ministry in their own church. Part of the written material also shares how God has given her a vision to structure movement groups so that everyone can learn how to choreograph with or without a movement background. In 2006, Mary furthered her education when she received a Master of Arts in Worship with an emphasis in dance from Hope International University in Fullerton, California.

From Mary’s point of view, prayer-in-motion must be purposeful and conceptually clear. Of course, clarity also informs her passion to communicate the benefits of dance for children so that they are not hypersexualized with adult costumes, choreography and music. Her background includes a California secondary and junior college teaching credential as well as many years as an inductive Bible study leader. She has been involved with Bible Study Fellowship, Kay Arthur’s Precepts Bible Studies as well as women’s bible studies at Trinity Evangelical Church in Redlands, CA where Mary and her husband Richard attend.




During the last decade, there has been a cultural shift from healthy educational children’s dance to harmful hypersexualized children’s dance by using adult costumes, sexually suggestive choreography, and music with inappropriate sexual themes and/or lyrics. Our organization is dedicated to raising awareness and providing dance educators, parents, and concerned adults with the resources and education needed to take action and end this kind of exploitation occurring through hypersexualization of children in dance.

DA:NCE Goals

  1. To protect children from hypersexualization in adult costumes, choreography and music, and to protect the art of dance
  2. To create free research materials to give adults informed choices about the differences between healthy or harmful dance
  3. To engage in respectful conversations about hypersexualization without shaming/demonizing adults or dance studios so that there is a path for reflection and changed perspectives
  4. To communicate the hypersexualization of children in dance and its connection to the public health issue of pornography with bipartisan engagement

Free Resources for Parents and Concerned Adults

As awareness grows, dance educators, parents and concerned citizens are speaking out against this cultural shift toward normalizing the hypersexualization of children in dance. Free resources to educate and grow awareness are available at, including:

• Video library highlighting the damaging effects of hypersexualized children’s dance

• Educational PowerPoints and in-depth videos for people to use in their outreach efforts

• Resources for parents to find and select healthy, age-appropriate dance studios

• An educational and actionable newsletter, sent only three times per year, as well as an engaging eBook that explains the problem and offers solutions


Interview Questions for dance educator Mary Bawden
1. Can you provide some background on your own dance history? How early did you become
interested in dance?
2. What led you to write a book about Christian dance ministry?
3. What does DA:NCE stand for? Why are you its founder?
4. When did you begin to notice the trend to hypersexualize children in adult costumes,
choreography and music?
5. How does the APA (American Psychological Association) define the hypersexualization of
6. What are the researched outcomes of healthy, educational dance versus the researched
outcomes of harmful, hypersexualized dance?
7. What does the media/internet have to do with the hypersexualization of children in dance?
8. Is there any connection between the hypersexualization of children to the public health issue of
pornography? Current trends?
9. Why do you think that there is low awareness concerning the negative effects that
hypersexualized dance may have on children?
10. What is your personal definition of healthy and harmful dance?
11. How can a parent know the difference between a healthy, educational dance studio and a
harmful, hypersexualized dance studio?
12. Can you tell us about free resources on
13. Is there any new DA:NCE resource that you’d like us to know about?
14. What are the educational goals of DA:NCE?
15. This issue seems over-whelming. What can adults do to educate the culture/communities to
prevent the hypersexualization of children in adult costumes, choreography and music? How
can they take action?

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