I started dancing with the First Street Academy of Dance when I was three years old. Being a student at First Street, I have seen first hand how Susan Bunting, the owner and creator of the school, has incorporated her Christian faith into everyday life in the studio. I can remember Anthem Lights and Britt Nicole blaring out of the big black speakers in the corner of the studio, leading the dancers across the floor with their latest hits. Before every curtain call, Susan would corral all of the First Street Students into the hallway right outside of the stage door and lead us in prayer, asking God to bless our performance and ask that He would help to calm our nerves. My freshest memory with First Street is standing on stage during dance recital in the opening number’s tap costume, shaking out my nerves with the curtains closed, and listening as Susan Bunting stood on the audience side of the curtain, thanking the audience for coming, and giving our performance to God, thanking Him for the opportunity to share the talents and gifts He gave us with the world. Susan’s life shows that it is possible to do the things you love, praise God while doing it, and make a living at it.
Susan Bunting started her dance career at the age of nine in the year 1964. Her first teaching job was with The Royal School of Dance in Florida, the studio she was trained at. Over the years Susan has lived in many different states, such as Texas and North Carolina, teaching in ballet schools such as Longview Ballet Theater and a school she created herself, Studio of Performing Arts. When she moved back to Florida, she started teaching for the Apopka Civic Centers and Family Worship Centers. At the same time, Susan helped to form the dance program at The First Baptist Church of Orlando. After five years years in Florida, Susan and her family came to live in Menominee, MI, where she founded the First Street Academy of Dance, which is now going on its twenty third year of business.
When Matt Kowalczyk(you know him as the owner/creator of SportsFaith) asked me if I knew anyone I would be interested in interviewing as part of my internship, her name continued to run through my head. Susan is one person in my life who has successfully created an environment that combines faith and sport into one, and she maintains a business while doing so. I knew instantly that I wanted to interview her. By sharing her story, I hope that her life can be an inspiration to those trying to bring God into their workplaces, athletics, and everyday lives.
Believe it or not, this was my third interview with Mrs. Bunting. I have interviewed her for multiple school projects throughout the years, but this was the first time I was able to discuss her faith life within the context of her businesses. It was a new perspective I was excited to see about the First Street Academy of Dance.
One of my first questions for Susan was whether or not she received criticism from parents for bringing her faith life into her studio. “Thank God no!” She exclaimed, “If anything I receive compliments for doing so.” Mrs. Bunting has received nothing but support for including her faith into her studio, even from those who do not practice the same religion as her. “I have noticed in the past we’ve had a lot of doctors coming into the area from other countries, you know from Syria from Ukraine, just all over the place and a lot of Muslim countries. And if anything they never criticise me, they never pull their children. [During recitals] They would stand aside, either with their child if their child was Muslim and still be present when we prayed, or they’d allow their child pray with us.” Susan has been lucky enough to be a part of a community that gives her the chance to live out her faith life to the fullest.
She has also been lucky enough to see the effects of showing her faith to others. Sometimes people do not always have the chance to be shown how their efforts affect others, but Susan has done such a great job in bringing Christ to others that she has been able to see it. One thing that I personally have taken away from having danced with Susan(among other wonderful things) is praying every time an ambulance passes by. During every class, if an ambulance came whizzing by, she had us pause, take a moment of silence, and then return to class after it was gone. As I told Susan that I still do this, she began to laugh. “You know, one of my student’s mothers told me the other day that her daughter does this outside of class. She said that every time an ambulance passes the house her daughter yells, “Mom! Say a prayer!.” I didn’t know that having you guys do that made such an impact, it was something I’ve done since I was little so I don’t think twice about it.” She may have seen this as a little thing that she does, but for the other students and I, that little things she does had a huge impact in bringing the love of Christ into our lives.
My final question for Susan during our interview was if she had any advice for those who wanted to bring their Christian faith into their business or sports. Without missing a single beat, Susan responded with a huge smile on her face, “I say do it. I say do it because He has a plan. So many people are coming forward now. Don’t be afraid, put it in God’s hand. Don’t have any reservations at all, and I hope they never have to face any adversities. I constantly make those prayers that they don’t have to. All the Christians, if we all stand strong, we’ll do great. Go for it, put it out there!”
Susan has been lucky. Shes has not received backlash for bringing her faith life into her business. However, she knows it’s rare for that to happen. There are so many moments in the news, in sports, in our everyday lives that show how Christians are criticised for showing their faith to others. Susan Bunting’s life, though, is a perfect testimony of how standing up for your Christian faith can impact others, or even a whole community. She has shown others what having the joy of Christ inside of you looks like. Susan’s fortitude and love for others allows her to bring Christ to those who are a part of the First Street Academy of Dance, and God’s love will continue to shine through Susan Bunting no matter where life takes her next.