Forging a Future for Christ-Centred Arts
The Intentional Journey of a Wesley Institute Alumnus
Born in Sydney, Hannah Cooper (nee Horsley, Bachelor of Dance 1998) spent seven years of her childhood with her family on the mission field in Nairobi, Kenya before returning to Australia and completing high school with full time dance studies in Canberra. Following her desire to pursue dance, she auditioned for and was accepted into a number of university dance programs. After much prayerful consideration, Hannah began a Bachelor of Arts in Dance studies at Wesley Institute.
“During my time at Wesley Institute I was constantly challenged, and therefore grew exponentially,” reflects Hannah. “I had incredible and inspiring lecturers, great friends and we felt we were part of forging a new future for Christ-centred creative arts in Australia. Studying at Wesley Institute was completely formative for me: artistically, personally, spiritually and relationally.”
While studying at Wesley Institute, Hannah met her husband, Steve Cooper, who was working as a composer and performer with Dance lecturer Phillippa Oakden-Patch. Upon graduation, Hannah enthusiastically acted on her training and immersed herself within the arts and ministry. From 1999-2001, Hannah and Steve were founding members of Ask Dance Theatre, a collaborative dance theatre collective with a focus on creating works from a Biblical worldview. In 2001 the couple moved to San Francisco to embark on further ministry and creative projects. Shortly after the incidents of 11th September 2001, Hannah and Steve had the opportunity to spend time in New York and work with artists on creating different means for people to process the events of 9/11.
Hannah and Steve returned to Australia in 2002, and have continued to engage with the arts and their communities. Hannah took up a position in the School of Dance at Wesley institute, in addition to lecturing at C3 Oxford Falls Creative Arts College and working on various freelance projects. In 2007 Hannah completed further studies, graduating with a Master of Visual and Performing Arts from Charles Sturt University.
Today, Hannah and Steve reside in Tasmania. Steve is the Principal of Trinity College, and Hannah has been actively involved in a steering group for the Poatina Arts Colony, a group of committed artists established to offer a haven of hope for youth at risk. The community annually hosts a Faith and the Arts Summer School, artists’ retreats, mentoring programmes, discussion groups on the national arts scene, and educates on the arts and sustainability.
“I am inspired by God and God in His people and creation,” says Hannah. “I believe Wesley Institute prepared me for my career and life through thorough, challenging and holistic training in arts practice, technique, creativity and life with Christ.”
Hannah’s goals for the future involve continuing in the everyday working out of the gifts God has given her and seeking how best to put them into practise within community. At Wesley Institute we trust that our graduates will benefit communities around Australia and the world, and we take great pride in the achievements of our alumni. We applaud the work Hannah and her husband Steve are doing to impact the greater community for the Gospel through the formation of relationships and the integration of faith and art, and ask God’s every blessing on them!
Steve and Hannah Cooper