Christian dance instructor connects two great passions in the studio
Dance and faith are intertwined for Rachel Cheung. Two expressions not commonly seen together, but it’s a connection Cheung follows as an instructor at The Arts Abbey, a Calgary dance studio that operates on a foundation of Christianity.
Cheung fell in love with dance the minute she started at four-years-old. Now 24, it’s still one of her greatest passions. She even makes time for it despite working another job at a real-estate company and being involved in charity efforts.
“I just remember always, always being happy when I danced,” Cheung said. “When I’m dancing, I just have this huge smile on my face, and that’s how it’s always been.”
But she also recalled she had no access to a worship-based dance studio as she was learning her steps.
“There was not even anything out there to take one class, let alone an entire school that is built on that foundation,” Cheung said.
For Cheung, that connection between her Christian faith and dance is important. She said dance is the only thing that allows her to express the most vulnerable parts of her heart, as well as the most intimate parts of her relationship with God.
Photo by: Emily Holloway
“One of the most obvious expressions of God’s character is creating in art,” Cheung said. “It’s such a part of who He is, because He’s constantly creating.”
Cheung feels that she can bring a gift of worship to God that is unique and personal through dancing, and she compared this experience to that of a child presenting artwork to a parent.
“When a little girl or a boy comes home from school, like their first time, and they’ve drawn this picture and they present it to their mom or dad, and they’re so proud and they want to stick it on the fridge, just this mishmash of paint all over the place and you know, it’s nothing, it’s no Van Gogh or Picasso, or anything, but the parent looks at it and they’re just so proud and in awe of the heart behind it.”
According to Cheung, The Arts Abbey creates an environment that equips dancers who have a heart to worship God with opportunities to express their faith through many different forms of dance.
“It’s a really cool experience for all of us,” Cheung said. “We’re all like, ‘Wow, we really wish we had this when we were younger!’”
Cheung teaches ballet and imaginative dance to three and four-year-olds, and she also spearheads an initiative through which to teach dance classes for low-income youth in a SW Calgary community.
Cheung desires to share her passion for dance and her understanding of God’s love through her work as an instructor.
“That’s what I really hope I will be able to pass on to them,” Cheung said. “That they’re valued no matter what anybody else tells them.”