A Christian Then a Teacher

Ballet Tina“I am a Christian then a teacher, and I am here to teach the children with my whole heart,” was what ballet teacher, Tina, said during her first class this year. She lives in Hsin Chu and commutes over an hour to get to Taipei every Monday and Wednesday, just to teach the ballet classes at Bethany. Having taught ballet at our school for 9 years, she still prepares each lesson as if it’s her first, and always spends 30 minutes praying before each class begins. She is passionate about ballet and teaching children, yet her road to becoming a ballet teacher had been hard. 
Tina found her interest in dancing when she was in second grade. But coming from a traditional Chinese family, her parents were opposed to Tina pursuing that interest. She thus redirected that energy into collecting and compiling newspaper clippings about dancing and performing arts. When she was in college, she majored in journalism and did extremely well in her academics. Yet she became more and more depressed because she was studying journalism only to make her parents happy, her real passion was in dancing. She knew she wanted to dance and excelled in that area, but parents wouldn’t allow her to pursue that as a career. In her junior year, she started taking psychology courses in school because she had always felt that her existence was a mistake due to the fact that she could never please her parents. She longed to find acceptance for her identity through these psychology classes. Along the way, her Christian roommate encouraged her to be joyful and shared about the love of Christ with her. 
 
Right before college graduation, Tina was confused about her future. Realizing she couldn’t go into dancing professionally, she started attempting suicides. One time, but right before she was about to jump off her building, she saw a cross through the window across the alley. She was so moved by the cross that she stepped down and returned to her room. During another attempt, when she was about to use a knife to stab herself, she suddenly remembered that her roommate had shared with her Jesus’ words, “Come to me all who are heavy laden,” so she put down her knife. She was reminded of her Christian friends being strong in the midst of hardship, and coming out of it a new creation. She realized their strength came from knowing that there is Someone who is there for them and will never leave them. 
 
Eventually, she stayed at her college to work as a teacher aid and became a Christian during that time. “Romance and friendships come and go, and loneliness had always lurked in the background, but now I can feel that God is always with me.” After a few years of working as a teacher aid, Tina got very sick because she was under too much stress at work. This marked a new chapter in her life as she realized she needed to dance before she dies. After quitting her job, Tina got accepted into the Master’s program in Dance at Taipei Physical Education College. At the age of 30, Tina finally fulfilled her dream of pursuing ballet professionally. As she rushed to her ballet class from Hsin Chu one day, she met a Christian taxi driver. After a wonderful conversation with him, the taxi driver offered to take her to school every day and back. And during the ride, he would share a Bible story or verse with her. He was angel provided by God. 
 
Tina’s unyielding passion for ballet is shown through her daily routines. She always has a book at hand that is either about dancing or performing arts. She is always absorbing new information from different mediums to enrich her as a dancer and a teacher. She also incorporates many exercises into her routine to better train her body for dancing, such as practicing the split while reading a newspaper, stretching the back of her legs while washing her hair or doing standing leg-lifts while putting on her shoes. Ballet is on her mind all the time. 
 
As she is also passionate about dance education, she shared that everyone has the capability to dance. Babies start dancing even as a fetus in the womb. In her class, she focuses on teaching the students HOW to move their bodies as opposed to only teaching them WHAT movements and postures to do. She does this in 3 parts: Body – Movement – Beauty of Dance. She first helps the students get to know their own body and experience how much it can move. Then she helps the students develop their bodies so that they can have a wide range of movement and proper alignment. Tina emphasized that developing the hip joints and shoulder joints are especially important so that the students can do more movements in the future, such as spins and jumps. After the students have learned how to move their body, then they work on the flow of their movements to experience the beauty of dance. Tina likes to use visuals and bring in pictures to help students understand what she is trying to communicate. She also incorporates character building into the class whenever possible. For example, as each student practices the back arch, she trains their physical endurance as well as spiritual endurance of not giving up while other students pass under them. When the students get tired, she suggests they play “Sleeping Beauty”, an exercise she has designed to help her students learn confidence even when they don’t see the teacher. Tina trains the students to be brave and open during this exercise. When the students slowly build their confidence, they learn to support themselves with their arms.
Besides ballet, Tina is well versed in calligraphy, writing, speech, drama, and cheerleading. She’s learned a lot from being a journalist and interviewing people from all walks of life. Therefore she always has many ideas at hand for teaching children. 
She loves teaching ballet at Bethany. She is very grateful to Morrison staff Mr. Larry Dilley and his wife for introducing her to Bethany and encouraging her throughout these years. She is also grateful to her ballet teacher, Ms. Lee, for giving her the opportunity to become the head ballet teacher at Bethany. Teaching children here has healed her and helped her restore her childhood. Tina also feels that Bethany is a sanctuary, a place for revival. Bethany’s ballet class has never closed down even when there was only 1 student. Tina says this is all God’s grace. “God designs the class, I am just a tool.” 
Tina’s story is a wonderful testimony of how a little girl blossomed into a princess as she recognized the talents God has given her and pursued it whole-heartedly to become the person God created her to be. Let us parents be encouraged and inspired to guide our children to their God-given talents. This is beautifully put by the poem below:
They are buds of hope and promise,
Possessed by Him whose name is Love;
Lent us here to train and nourish
For a better life above. —Crosby (from Our Daily Bread)