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Jane Hawley '87

Associate professor of dance

Career turning point: Named by Dance Magazine as the outstanding performer at the American College National Dance Festival in Washington, D.C.

On finding vocation: Founded Black Earth Collaborative Arts, a nonprofit to create a living record of the human story.

Mention "Jane" in conversation virtually anywhere on Luther's campus, and you're likely to see a glimmer of recognition. That's because Jane enjoys reaching out to people of all abilities and perspectives as she studies the intersection of movement, mind, and spirit. It's a very "liberal-artsy" habit.

"The best part of my job is teaching the tools of self-expression and nourishing dreams," Jane says. "I get to pull out the talents already present in people and encourage self-discovery and independence."

It's worth clarifying that the dance curriculum Jane helps shape isn't the step-touch-step-together kind of regimen. With degrees in theatre, performance, and choreography, and an interest in relating artistic movement to health issues, Jane has developed a three-tiered sequence in movement fundamentals that is at once practical (emphasizing alignment and function) and creative (championing artistic vocabulary and intention).

The result, Jane says, is that students from diverse disciplines develop a more holistic perspective. Psychology majors realize the connections between mind and body and their response to therapy," she says. "Biology majors tell me they start valuing self-education, listening to their own bodies as authorities on health. And anthropology majors get a better sense for studying the style of movement across cultures."

In addition to teaching movement fundamentals and contact improvisation, Jane devises original works and collaborates with other faculty to direct shows, including the musical Hair in Spring 2007.