Student Spotlight: Savannah Tardibono

For as far back as she can remember, Savannah Tardibono has been dancing. At the age when most parents are looking forward to seeing their child take their first wobbly steps, Savannah's mother, Daphne, became excited when her blonde-headed, blue-eyed toddler twirled around the living room for the first time and was even more thrilled when she performed her first pirouette.

"My mother started dancing when she was seven years old," said Savannah, now a 21-year-old junior at Southwestern Christian University majoring in Liberal Arts. "She began her own dance studio when she was 23 years old, so basically as soon as I could walk, I was dancing. I have always loved to dance, and I can't ever remember not dancing during my life. It has always been a part of who I am."

A native of Oklahoma City, Savannah is a highly decorated dancer, winning titles such as Teen Miss Dance of Oklahoma and Miss Dance of Oklahoma. She also obtained a certification to teach dance through Dance Masters of America last November.

Besides performing for various conferences and Youth America summer camps hosted by her home church over the years, dance has also been used by Savannah as an avenue to see the world. She has danced for the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem to raise funds for Israeli families affected by the war in the Middle East. She has also traveled to Mexico and twice to Asia in connection with her dance capabilities. In 2008, her dance group was invited by the Chinese Embassy to perform at the Olympic festivals in Beijing at Tiananmen Square on the day the torch was carried into Beijing. While in China, Savannah's group also performed at two of the Western churches, including one church founded by former U.S. president George H.W. Bush. More performances followed at two orphanages for disabled children, and her groups also held workshops for the children of Christian ministers in Beijing.

"Our group put on several workshops in Beijing for the children of various pastors and ministers from around the globe that were stationed in Beijing," related Savannah. "It was such a great experience being able to teach children from various nations about dance and being able to share a love for dance with them."

Just this past year, Savannah was able to travel to the Philippines for two weeks to be a part of a theatrical production based on the salvation message titled The RemiX, resulting in nearly 400 people being saved.

"Dance is a universal language which breaks down any cultural or language barriers, and I have seen dance used in numerous venues and it always is relative to the audience, no matter the walk of life they are coming from," explained Savannah.

When she is not traveling with dance, Savannah is the Assistant Director at her mother's dance studio, Dove Dance, located in Oklahoma City. When not attending classes at SCU, you can almost always find her at the studio - or her 'second home' - as she keeps a full schedule by teaching four days a week, running rehearsals, working the office, editing music, choreographing recitals and competitions, and preparing costumes.

With all of the hard work she is putting into the studio, Savannah's desire is to continue in her mother's footsteps by running the studio - the heart of where it all began. She also dreams of beginning her own dance company and wants to continue ministering to others around the globe through dance.

"Dance has taught me many great lessons in life," Savannah reflected. It has taught me perseverance and discipline. It has also made me thankful for the little things that are sometimes taken for granted. Most importantly, however, dance has given me another way of giving back to God through the ability he has given me. It is a way close to my heart that I use to praise and worship him."