Mennonite Women Can Dance


By Rhoda Keener
Excitement was building at the Sister Care seminar in Bolivia on Friday afternoon, Nov. 15, in anticipation for Noche Cultural, a time when participants from each country share the beauty of their culture through song or dance. As I was leading the last session before closing to prepare for the evening celebration, I said, “I feel very badly that because I was raised a traditional Mennonite I never learned how to dance.”

Over at her table, Carolyn Heggen immediately said, “Oh Rhoda, don’t say that.”  Sure enough, the women’s eyes sparkled, and Valeria Silva from Brazil said, “You will dance.” 

(l to r) Gabriela Soto, Marcia Soto, and Alejandra Molina

(l to r) Gabriela Soto, Marcia Soto, and Alejandra Molina

That night when the delegation from Chile presented their culture, three women dressed in traditional garb with flowers in their hair began a graceful dance weaving their steps, kneeling, and swaying. Then I saw Marcia coming toward Carolyn and me while Graciela approached another participant and Alejandra a third.  Marcia took one of Carolyn’s hands and one of mine and guided our threesome in a dance.  I caught Valeria’s eye and she gave me a big smile. 

Rhoda Keener, Marcia Soto, and Carolyn Heggen dancing

Rhoda Keener, Marcia Soto, and Carolyn Heggen dancing


Even though I was never required to memorize Psalm 150, verse 4 as a child, “Praise God with timbrel and dance,” I learned in Bolivia that North American Mennonite women can dance.





One thought on “Mennonite Women Can Dance

  1. Marjorie Neufeld on said:

    Praise the Lord. You were able to break from tradition to enjoy dancing with women in another culture! Maybe there is hope for women in our churches. You may have to help us feel comfortable with that.

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