A Story… Celebrating AAPI

Shu-Chen Cuff
I was born and raised in Taiwan. From a very young age, I loved singing, dancing, and acting. I always knew I wanted to be a performer. I remember I would be so mesmerized watching any kind of stage performances, TV shows, movies, and iceskating and gymnastic in Olympics. In my mind it didn’t matter what I would become, as long as I could perform. Not until my childhood friend brought me to watch a ballet class at the age of six, I fell in love with dance. I came from a very modest middle class family. My dad was a police sergeant and my mom was a factory worker. I have two older brothers. Growing up, money was always tight. I often heard my parents argue and worry about money. When I talked to my dad about taking dance lessons, he said to me “Those ballet dancers have big legs and cavies, you don’t want to look like that!” Of course, it wasn’t until later I realized that the real reason he didn’t want me to take dance classes was because of money. I later went ahead and registered for a summer dance workshop, having no real concept about paying for the class. I was six years old and just knew I couldn’t wait any longer. Having no dance gear like the other students, I took class in street clothes and socks. After a couple of weeks, Ms. Lin, my teacher finally came to me and told me that I needed to pay for the class. At that point, I had to tell my dad. He came to watch me in class. After that, he paid for the class and got me proper attire for dance. That’s how my dance journey began. 

After I graduated from Tsoy High School, which was a prestigious dance program in Taiwan, I immigrated to the U.S. I am beyond grateful for my amazing parents who worked so hard to support me to come to this country, so I can pursue my dance dream. After graduating with a BFA from the University of Florida’s New World School of the Arts (UF’s Dance Program), I danced professionally with ballet and modern dance companies for fourteen years, touring domestically and internationally. Thirteen years ago, my husband, Gary and I started Gin Dance Company. It truly has been a dream come true. Being that little girl in Taiwan, I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would have my own dance company one day in United States. I have so many people to be thankful for helping me along the way. I am proud and fortunate to call myself Asian American. Learn more about Shu-Chen

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