Leap of Faith: My Dance Through Life
In 1935, at the age of fifteen, Shona Dunlop left Dunedin and sailed to Europe with her family to see the 'cultural capitals of the world'. Their captivating adventures are a vignette of a Europe that would soon be lost forever. After two years studying expressive dance in Vienna, Shona's new life ended with the invasion of Hitler's troops. A dance tour of South America offered many of the predominantly Jewish company escape from certain death, and further adventures for the 'English' girl in their number. A return to New Zealand, the setting up of a modern dance company in Sydney and a coming of age for the dancer followed, before Shona met and married Canadian missionary Donald MacTavish within the space of five weeks.
A new phase in her life had begun, taking the young couple to China amidst the ructions of the Communist revolution, and on to South Africa, where they fought the pernicious advance of apartheid. There tragedy struck. Donald died of cancer, leaving Shona widowed with three small children. She returned to Dunedin. It was 1950. Pulling her life back together was a long hard struggle, but Shona managed to make ends meet by setting up her own modern dance studio – the first in New Zealand. Soon she made a name for herself as a choreographer and teacher of national significance. She also became controversial for her promotion of dance in the church. She travelled widely, studying the dance of indigenous people, especially in Asia.
She has created dances with tribespeople, parishioners, prisoners, the Hell's Angels and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Leap of Faith is an extraordinary mix of drama, upheaval and the overcoming of great personal tragedy. Shona's engaging and hopeful spirit is first captured in the voice of her youthful diaries which add to this uplifting tale of a truly heroic life.