Amidst the glitter and glow of costumes and stage lights, students at Tina Chauvin’s School of Dance in Houma are learning to discover self-confidence, self-love and even a little magic within the walls of a studio that serves to uplift and inspire its dancers.
Tina opened her dance school with the goal of boosting self-esteem by making sure that every child who passes through its doors feels special, both within the world of dancing and in everyday life. She encourages them to use their gifts and to use their voices.
“We talk about a lot of things at our dancing school. When we walk in, my encouragement is we use our body because we can…We’re very fortunate God made us able to do this, and we use our arms because we can because we have them,” Tina said. “We hold our chin up because we’re beautiful. My biggest thing is we use our words properly. A voice is to be heard.”
In the over 40 years that Tina Chauvin’s School of Dance has been open, Tina has sought to teach her students that they are not in competition with anyone. Rather, they are all equal.
“We used to have this sign on the door…‘Welcome to our studio, where you’re in competition with no one,’” Tina said. “The competition has a brought a whole new scenario to dance where even though we do a little competition, I’m not in competition with anyone.”
A dancer herself from first grade through to adulthood, Tina’s dancing career began in a neighborhood studio. She subsequently went on to begin her own neighborhood studio in a closed-in carport attached to her home in downtown Houma. Her first students were her neighbors.
Tina believes dancing is special because of both its physical and mental benefits and the fact that it serves as an outlet for relieving the stress that school and daily life can bring.
“I just feel like, when children have issues even at school, this is an outlet for them to just release the pressures of school and the other things outside the building and come in here, and it’s a place where you don’t have to feel pressured,” Tina said.
She said that the fun in being an instructor is watching and listening to her students, among whom she encourages an enjoyable environment full of laughter and smiles. She believes that laughter is healthy, and the best gift to be given is that of a smile.
For Tina, the most rewarding parts of her job and being recognized as a role model in the community are teaching her former students’ children and seeing what kind of people her students turn out to be.
“Everything to me is about these kids, it’s not about me,” Tina said. “I mean these kids have been super successful, and I’m sure they would have been probably without this studio, but knowing they went through these doors before they got to that door means a lot.”
At the end of the day, Tina hopes to instill in her students the confidence to go out into the world and do what makes them happy because life is short. She offers the same advice to anyone who is pursuing their dreams.
“You just have to go for it. It’s not going to come to you. You have to go to it. If it just doesn’t work the first time, then you keep going, and you keep trying,” Tina said. “There’s something out there for all of us–Something special for everyone–but you have to go for it because it’s not going to come to you.”