It’s more than just community, more than just theater, more than just dance, voice and acting.
For the kids and adults associated with the Joshua Generation Musical Theater Discipleship and Production Company in Brandon, the undertaking is a test of faith as much as it presents an opportunity to test and hone talents.
“We train in all aspects of the performing arts,” said Lisa Westcott, Joshua Generation’s regional director. “Voice, dance, drama, it’s not to glorify the self but to glorify God, and to thank God for the gifts that he has given us.”
The group has about 46 members, ages 3 to 18, and rehearses at Simone Salsa in Brandon, at 763 West Lumsden Road, in the Oak Park Plaza at the corner of Kings Avenue.
The group will be in action today, Jan. 28, at , 1310 John Moore Road, with a Dance-A-Thon fundraiser for which company members have been collecting pledges for each hour danced or for the overall effort.
The 12-hour event starts at 9 a.m.
“But these kids would stay together, and dance for three weeks straight, if they could,” Westcott said. “These kids just love hanging out together.”
On Sunday, group dancers will be with the Tampa Underground Church, leading the children’s worship service.
Proceeds from the Dance-A-Thon will help fund scholarships, a Tennessee trip and production costs for Joshua Generation’s dinner theater production fundraiser, May 18-20, at a location to be announced.
The group’s name comes from the Book of Joshua, named the successor of Moses.
Joshua Generation was founded in 2005 by Jennifer Amor, who has since moved to Tennessee, where her daughter, Samantha, an original Joshua Generation member, engages in her own music and dance instruction.
“We just started with a small group, with my three kids and one other friend,” said Jennifer Amor, back in Brandon for a short visit and to help the group with its Dance-A-Thon.
And now, she added, “it just blows me away to see the growth in the number of kids and the growth in their skills.”
Joshua Generation has evolved into a group for homeschooled students, especially given that its practices typically take place during the school day, when facility availability is more opportune.
Admittedly, the group is not for everyone.
“They have to make a really big commitment to be part of the Joshua Generation,” Westcott said, noting the interview process for both student and parent and the rules that have to be followed.
“We don’t allow dating until age 17,” Westcott said. “And you have to be careful with your Facebook postings, as they could affect our name and we work very hard to keep pure.”
Costumes are modest, and dance moves and song selections "are age-appropriate," Westcott said.
“It’s not for everyone,” she added. “If the rules aren’t for you, then this isn’t the group for you.”
Why did he join, and stick with the group, for five years?
“To glorify God,” said Christian Conte, 16. “To be the musician for him, to spread his word through music.”
Herman Grimaldo, also a member of the group’s Divine Adoration praise band, said he wasn’t sure the group was for him when a friend first approached him about it. “I didn’t know much about it and at first I didn’t connect with it,” he said.
But now, “it’s like a family,” he added. “It cleanses and body and the soul 100 percent.”
Dancer Maggie Suidan, 15, agreed.
“At the time we were just looking for a homeschool-focused, family driven place to go,” she said. “What’s made me stay is the atmosphere. It’s so encouraging and God is always present here. It’s awesome.”
For more information, contact Westcott at 813-928-0905. Information online is available at www.thenewjoshuageneration.com.