Alyce Roeder danced professionally for 15 years - three with the Nashville Ballet and another 12 with the Milwaukee Ballet.
Those performances were about showing off her beauty, grace and talent.
When she retired, she didn't turn in her ballet slippers.
She just put her attention toward another aspect of the performance: putting God in dance.
Roeder lives in Milwaukee but said her whole life is in Brookfield as she has dedicated herself to dance at Elmbrook Church as the director of the Steps of Grace Ballet School and as the director of Dance El Elyon, both ministries under the church.
"Our first purpose is to show how you can use dance to worship God vs. just for an audience," Roeder said. "It puts the focus on letting him get all the glory. Our purpose is completely different than a normal dance company. It is completely God-driven."
Roeder, originally from Memphis, Tenn., moved to Wisconsin when her director in Nashville got the same position in Milwaukee and invited members from his team along in 1991.
She got involved at Elmbrook almost immediately, but it wasn't until after she retired from professional dance that she gave her full attention to the church.
Roeder leads nine levels of dance at Elmbrook, ranging from children as young as 3 years old to adults.
The ballet students dance at church services as well as other special events and at nursing homes around Brookfield.
Roeder said she doesn't consider them performances as that would give the idea of drawing attention to oneself. That's why, she said, they call it a dance ministry, because "it's a different experience when you're part of the ministry."
"When we dance, we pick pieces that glorify God and help others worship," Roeder said. "We dance to enhance the worship experience.
"We never want to take away from God. We dress the right way, so he is honored, and don't put the focus on ourselves, because we're looking to him when we dance."
While Roeder doesn't dance on stage anymore, she still dances at some of the services with the adults.
But as the years have passed, her dancing message has changed as well.
"When I first started I wanted everyone to look at me," said Roeder, who is part of the Karitos '13, a worship and arts conference that travels across the world with other artists as a way to glorify God through the arts.
"But now when I get on stage, even at the Marcus Center (where the Milwaukee Ballet performed), God was the audience. I wasn't worried what the audience thought of me."
Her children have applied this message. Her daughters, Amelia, 16, who attends Brookfield Central, and Amanda, 9, of Burleigh Elementary, are part of the ballet school.
"I love to see how a whole new generation is making a difference in the church and community," Roeder said.
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