Taiwan’s “queen of dancing,” Serena Liu, unexpectedly passed away on Sunday after a surgical procedure to treat a heart condition encountered complications. Liu was put on life support for 18 days, and was then fitted with a ventricular assist device to keep her alive until a new heart could be found. Liu valiantly struggled on for another 45 days before finally succumbing on Sunday, aged 44.
Taiwan’s “queen of ballroom dancing“ left home to forge a path in the entertainment industry and went on to enjoy a glittering career. Liu began studying ballet at elementary school and studied Russian at National Chengchi University, joining the school’s ballroom dancing club. Liu’s delicate appearance and doll-like features, combined with her technical mastery of dancing, meant that she became one of the “top four beauties” within the club and was a prominent personality on campus.
After graduating from university, Liu worked in a bank for two years before quitting to become a full-time dance teacher. By this time she had begun to make a name for herself and appeared as a dance coach on TV variety shows, giving her her first break into the world of showbiz. In 2004, Liu performed an intimate dance together with Hong Kong actor-singer Andy Lau and became famous virtually overnight.
Photo: Sung Chih-hsiung, Liberty Times
Liu developed a life-long passion for dance from an early age, and would often say “I dance, therefore I am.” At university, Liu watched Strictly Ballroom and Dirty Dancing, two movies that opened her eyes to the beauty of dancing with a partner. She immediately became hooked on the world of ballroom dancing and, together with her dance partner, began competing in competitions up and down the country.
Liu’s mother objected to her daughter becoming a professional dancer. After graduation, Liu was forced to enter into the career her parents wanted her to follow, and began working in an American bank. The two years working at the bank were the hardest period of her life. Liu once said that during this time she was happiest when she went to dance class after work and stayed there late into the evening, only returning home after her parents had already gone to bed. Although always obedient as a child, Liu entered into a three-year war of attrition with her parents. Her health began to suffer as she burned the candle at both ends, working during the day and dancing at night. Once, Liu had a fever and took a sick day from work, but still insisted on going to her dance class in the evening. Powerless to stop her leaving the house, Liu’s mother got down on her knees and begged her daughter to stay at home.
Eventually, Liu insisted on quitting her job at the bank and her parents finally relented to allow Liu to pursue her dream. They gave their daughter two years to prove herself. At first, Liu relied on teaching dance to support herself. A virtual unkown in the world of dance, and with only a small number of students, Liu was unable to maintain a steady income, so much so that she could not bring herself to attend a university class reunion. All this changed when Liu started to attend dance competitions and appeared on television. After breaking into the entertainment industry, her career went from strength to strength, and she also found love and a lifelong companion. Liu leaves behind a husband and four-year-old daughter.
(Translated by Edward Jones, Taipei Times)
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