Dancers' Paradise: Anica Wood moves for the Lord
There was a time when Anica Wood was the life of the party. Her natural ability and the training she got as part of Wolmer's Dance Troupe up to when she was 12 years old made her the centre of attention, from paid events to family gatherings where relatives would pay to see her make her moves.
"Dancehall was my thing," Wood told Dancers' Paradise, reeling off a list of then favourite dance songs, including Gully Creeper, World Dance, Screechie, Higher Level and Online. "I could go on and on," she said.
However, Wood could not go on and on popping moves at parties, and, in 2016, she became a Christian. She now dances for her church Transformed Life - which meets at the Police Officers Club on Hope Road, St Andrew, for Praise Academy of Dance going on stage at events like Easter Monday's Unity in the City and individually. However, behind the stretches and smile, the extensions and excitement, there is a story of pain that goes back to Wood's childhood when she had been training formally.
"At a young age, a family member made a comment. It changed everything. They said, 'This dance you are doing, stop it. It is foolishness'," Wood recalled.
Crushed, she dropped out of the troupe, reserving her dancing for parties, where she would make it into the middle of the circle, hip movements and all.
"People go out for different things. I went to dance," she said.
ALWAYS WANTING TO DANCE
However, the desire to dance on a stage never left Wood.
"I would go to dance shows and be on the edge of my seat, saying that I should be up there," she said. It got to the point where it was too painful to attend those events and not participate, so she stopped.
Quitting the party circuit for the church led Wood back to the formal dance training she always wanted. In 2016, she watched a webinar at home during which the speaker asked participants to close their eyes and imagine doing something they truly loved and could do in front of a thousand people. "I imagined myself dancing and started crying. They were tears of joy. A lot of emotions were brought out."
So she prayed, asking: "Lord, help me to dance. Take away this fear." There was also the pledge to dance for the Lord's purpose, and the prayer was answered.
"I was dead for 22 years, not being able to dance," the 33-year-old said.
After high school, Wood gotten certified in Zumba fitness, then doing sessions with corporate clients and sports teams. That dance-based workout was an outlet, but, with the dancehall-style gyration involved, was largely incompatible with the movements of worship. Still, Wood is not averse to putting in a 'shoulder fling'.
However, she stressed, "I do 'Christian dancehall' at Praise Academy, Transformed Life Church, on my own, but I keep it clean."
"Becoming a Christian has been a very interesting experience. Dance has been a powerful tool in my Christian walk," Wood added.