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Maggie Vinyard
Dr. Sterling
English 1301
September 29, 2016
Faith In Dance
I have been a part of the dance world since the moment I was born. My mom has danced
all of her life, majoring in dance in college and teaching every since. My sister grew up taking
class from the time she could walk until her senior year of high school. To be frank, I never felt
connected to it. Even though I was so involved in their dance world, the connection I had with it
was completely impersonal. Now I have grown to love dance, and can thank one specific
instructor for giving me a reason to make dance personal to me. Ms. Nikki was my
contemporary teacher last year, and I instantly felt that something was different about her. She
brought out the hard worker in me, and made me interested in her as a person, not just my dance
teacher. I ended up receiving an invitation from her to watch her perform with her company, and
that was the start to something magical.
It was mid-December of last year when my friend Ellie and I went to see Ad Deum's
Show. I picked Ellie up, and we went to dinner beforehand. It was great that I had blocked out
three hours for the event of us driving over there and eating, considering how it was only about
fifteen minutes away. Needless to say, we were very early to the show. We sat in the lobby, and
watched as the dancers trickled in holding a variety of fast-food bags with their hair and makeup
halfway finished. As the minutes ticked by I became more and more anxious as to what I was
about to experience. I never liked it when I felt as if something were trying to peel away my
hard shell. I guess I was nervous that I would see something that would make me feel vulnerable.

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We eventually noticed the infamous Shizu Yasuda who has taught at our studio in years past.
Shizu was thrilled to see us, and struck up conversation about how great the show was going to
be until she was called off to tend to her rehearsal director duties.
The time finally came for the public to be seated, so Ellie and I found our place five or so
rows back from the front of the sanctuary's stage. The first thing I noticed about the faces around
me was how diverse the crowd was. It might have been that I was sitting in a church, but the
Galatians verse, "There is neither Jew not Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither
male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." rang loudly in my mind. The second thing I
noticed after sitting down was that the company's founder and director, Randall Flinn, was seated
directly in front of us. I was mesmerized at how freely he spoke with the people around him, and
how kind his words sounded. The man was so peaceful, and had an air of joy surrounding him. I
thought to myself how odd it was for a director of a show to be so calm and collected before a
big performance.
The lights of the church dimmed for a few moments, and then returned to their normal
state, signaling that it was time for the show to begin. Shizu made her way to the front of the
sanctuary with a live microphone in hand. "Welcome to Ad Deum show of Dance!" her English
was a bit butchered, but nobody seemed to mind. Her happiness came across as clear as day.
"For those who don't know what Ad Deum is about, it means 'Unto God'. The dance we perform
is all to God and we are so happy to share with all of you tonight the gift of Christ." She went on
to introduce herself to the audience, and told of Ad Deum's many good works that have reached
lives from all around the world. I knew that Ad Deum was a nonprofit Christian dance company
that was based in Houston, but other than that my only other knowledge of the company was that
I had a dance teacher who was a member of it. Shizu prayed over the congregation, and read

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some scripture that introduced the first act of the show. My sense of anxiety had dulled from the
warm introduction, and I began to feel curious and excited about what was to come.
After sitting through several numbers of powerful movement, Shizu appeared once more
in front of the crowd. However, this time she was wearing a pale blue leotard with a long skirt.
She began speaking to us again. She told us that she grew up dancing at a Ballet school in Japan.
She also said that she grew up Buddhist, even after she made the move to America as an adult.
"Taking class in America very hard because I did not understand the words of my teachers. They
would often get angry at me for not understanding." Shizu's face brightened at that moment as
she explained how accepting Ad Deum was to her. Up until that point she felt rejected by
everyone she came in contact with, and Ad Deum a Christian Dance company, was opening their
arms to her, a Buddhist who didn't speak English. " I thought this is weird. This compassion and
kindness they offered to me." She went on to say how even though she still could not understand
their words, something felt different. She started to attend their Bible studies, and Randy
presented her with a Japanese Bible. She said that every day she danced with this group , she
began to feel change inside her. From her reading and her dancing, Shizu ended up accepting
Christ into her heart. She said "I did not have understanding of most things said to me, but I
knew it was the Holy Spirit speaking to me every day I spent with those people, and I needed to
know their God." Her testimony left me in wonder. The conversion between Buddhism and
Christianity surely could not have been an easy one, and for someone to make the conversion
through dancing is truly remarkable. Just like Shizu, I suddenly felt desperate to know the God
that Ad Deum danced for.
Shizu took her place on stage, and the familiar chords of Ave Maria began to play. I had
heard the song a thousand times before, but have never seen it brought to life in the way that she

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did. With each bound across the stage, a line of the prayer was spoken. She would release her
chest to the sky, creating a "U" shape with her back, and I felt that the motif of her performance
was the symbolism of her heart opening up to God. The piece was truly beautiful, and I felt
honored to see her story brought to life on stage. While she was still trying to catch her breath,
she got on the microphone once more. "A year ago, I broke my back, and could not walk." A
collective gasp of disbelief rippled through the audience. "I lost faith in God. I hated Him for
taking away from me what made me feel joy. I thought my life was no purpose if I have no
dance because to me, dance was God. That is the way I knew Him, and now I am abandoned."
She explained how she slowly regained her faith through teaching and choreographing, and by
the grace of God, was able to walk and more importantly, dance again. Her testimony left me in
shock. I was thinking how much I wanted something like that to connect me with God. I realized
then how much I took an everyday hobby of mine for granted.
Shizu's testimony of trusting in God during the roughest period of her life led directly to
the next number, "For Now I am Winter", performed by Nikki Wetter, my dance teacher.
Watching her dance made me feel incompetent as a dancer. I saw her perfectly execute the
things she would try to teach my class, but what really surprised me was how emotionally
invested she was in the piece. It was an incredibly sad dance. Each movement was filled with
pain, regret, pity and shame. I truthfully have never seen anyone dance like that before. I
couldn't event believe it was dancing. It felt more like I was watching an abandoned child
begging for help. I realized when the piece was finished, and my eyes were wet, that was the
whole story of the dance. It was about finding strength and keeping faith during the brutal
winter months of life, and God not just being the God of all things happy and warm like summer.
The piece took me back to a time in my life when I felt like everyone had given up on me, and I

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was trying to figure out the early years of adolescence by myself. I thought how those winter
months of my life shaped me into who I am now, but how difficult it was without faith. I was
completely and utterly moved by the piece.
I had a bit of time to collect myself before the dancers were released to socialize with
their friend and family in the audience. Ellie and I discussed our favorite moments of the show
while we waited to greet Nikki. We congratulated a few of the other dancers on a good show as
they passed by and made our way over to say hi to Nikki. She was so excited to see us, and
wrapped both of us up in a big hug. I got the feeling that she was surprised to see that students of
hers came to watch her perform because of the "little kid on Christmas morning" look that swam
in her eyes. She kept saying how thankful she was that we cared enough to come see her and,
"God is so good for bringing us together through dance". We told her that we would see her in
class that next Monday, and went our separate ways. From experiencing Ms. Nikki in an intimate
way where her most vulnerable self was exposed to us, I finally realized what was different about
her. The whole time I had been in class with her, she had been hiding her burning passion for
Christ, but had not hidden it well enough because I started to feel the burning inside of me. I was
smiling ear to ear the whole way home because I knew that going to that performance was all
part of God's plan for me. He finally found a way to make my hobby personal to me, and gave
me a reason to dance.
This experience is significant to me because I found my identity in Christ through dance,
and day in and day out, it has proved to be my greatest joy in life. After seeing Ad Deum's show
this past December, I participated in their Spring Dance Intensive, and fell even deeper into my
infatuation with God and my love for dance. I will forever be grateful to Ms. Nikki for being a
light to me, and for opening my eyes to the most beautiful reason there is to dance.