She found it hard adapting to a new country, with no friends or family here except her Singaporean husband.

After Madam Susan Shu - who moved here from China in 2006 following her marriage - gave birth to her first child a year later, things got worse when she had post-natal depression.

The 36-year-old, who is now a Singapore citizen, said she felt hopeless.

"I was in a completely different environment. I could barely speak English and I didn't have many people to turn to for help," she told The New Paper in Mandarin.

Her post-natal depression hit her hard - she fainted several times in public because of extreme fatigue. She also had problems breastfeeding and suffered a persistent fever for two months.

Madam Shu said: "My breasts felt very heavy and extremely painful when I touched them. My entire body felt so uncomfortable and it affected my mood. I was in a very bad place."

Then one day, she stumbled upon a video about belly dancing online.

Though she always had an interest in the performing arts, her parents had discouraged her in the past.

Her father, Mr Shu Yiou Kun, 61, who was here on a short visit from China, said: "Years ago in China, the arts did not look like they had a promising future. As parents, we wanted her to have the brightest future she could have, so we sent her to study business instead."

She recalled with a laugh that her father would drag her out from dance classes she secretly attended when she was still schooling.

Her passion for dance eventually found its way back into her life and changed it for the better.

She took a two-month belly-dancing course in Beijing and returned to Singapore to teach the dance.


She said: "I felt so much more confident about my body and I wanted more people to feel empowered."

Since 2010, Madam Shu has been performing and teaching dance at several places, including Tampines North Community Club, where she leads classes twice a week. One of her former students was a 78-year-old woman.

Madam Shu has even started her own dance troupe, the Shakiya belly dance team, with her students. They took part in Asia Global Bellydance 2014, held at Far East Plaza, earlier this month.

The team consists of her and five women from different career backgrounds, such as office workers, housewives and an aesthetic nurse.