A Story from Shu-Chen

Although the rest of my family did opt to stay in Taiwan, I came to the U.S. and attended University of Florida’s dance program at the New World School of the Arts in Miami. Just as my Uncle said, I would be learning from the best in America. And I did. My amazing teachers at NWSA helped shape me in so many ways into the dancer and person I am today. 

When I was 7 years old, my Uncle who was living in Houston, where he still lives to this day, came to visit my family in Taiwan. At that time, I had just been taking dance classes for about a year and couldn’t stop thinking about dance every day. I still vividly remember at that dinner table, when my Uncle was energetically and enthusiastically telling us what a great country the Unites States is. It’s a land of opportunity with so many people wanting to immigrate to the U.S. to have better future and better life. “How is dance in the United States?” I asked. “Oh, there are so many great schools and companies there, you will love dancing there. They get the best training!” He said. … and I had to ask… “Is it true that they’ve got the best ice cream in the U.S.?” My uncle laughed and said “Yes, there are lots of delicious flavors of ice cream! The best!” Dancing and ice cream! Oh boy! I had to convince my parents to immigrate to the U.S.! With my Uncle’s help, I did. In 1983, my parents started the application process for green cards (permanent residentship). A few years later when I was in junior high school, a very good dance friend of mine gave me my very first Dance Magazine from the United States. I looked at the magazine over and over. I was mesmerized by all those beautiful dance pictures. I couldn’t understand what the articles said (they were written in English), but those images of dancers moved me so much. I wanted to be like them, which only deepened my thoughts and desires of coming to America to pursue my dance dreams. However, while we waited for our paperwork approval, year-after-year, life continued to change. My parents were focused on their careers in Taiwan and raising their family. My Dad got promoted to Police Sergeant. I was so busy with school and dance training, I had set my goals of auditioning for a prestigious dance college in Taipei for my senior year in high school. My dream of dancing in America had slowly faded. Then, after waiting for 10 long years, we received the approval from the U.S. that we could continue our process of immigrating to the States. My parents told me that we were in different stages of our lives than we were when we applied 10 years earlier and that we should continue to focus on our lives and careers in Taiwan and not to think about moving to the United States anymore. My Uncle from Houston came to visit us in Taiwan around that time. When my Dad told him of our decision to stay in Taiwan, he was in disbelief. He argumentatively said “There are so many people trying so hard to immigrate to the U.S., you guys waited for 10 years and finally got the paperwork, but you are going to give up this opportunity?” Amazingly, he convinced my parents to continue the green card process. The rest is history. 

Walking down memory lane, I often wonder how I could’ve been so determined to move to a foreign country where I could hardly understand and speak the language. I still remember the fear in me, so much unknown was in front of me, but it was that dream of mine – dance, being a professional dancer in the United States. It kept me going. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. When you want something badly enough, it pushes you to do the things you don’t think you can do. 

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 so I could come to this country and 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 Nevada Ballet Theater and Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company for fourteen years, touring domestically and internationally. Fourteen 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 who helped me along the way. I am proud and fortunate to call myself Asian American. Learn more about Shu-Chen

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