Colorado State University director of dance, Jane Slusarki-Harris, was one of five people honored for their contributions to dance in Colorado this year.
“Living Legends of Dance” aims to preserve the dance heritage of Colorado, according to the University of Denver’s library site on “Living Legends of Dance.”
The Collegian sat down with Slusarki-Harris and spoke about her accomplishments after graduating from CSU in 1983.
What was the process of getting nominated for “Living Legends of Dance?”
I was fortunate to be nominated by two individuals that I worked with for many years here in Colorado. I was nominated by two of the board members of DU’s Carson Brierly Giffin Dance Library to be part of this year’s celebration. I’ve known them both for many years, and basically I just sent them a bio and what I’ve been doing, and we had an interview.
There’s quite a rich and diverse history of dance here in Colorado. It’s a wide range of individuals and they started it in 2004.
I feel very honored and appreciative of being a part of that group.
What has influenced you?
I feel like I was really fortunate to be in between generations of mentors and teachers that I’ve had.
When I was in my 20s, I was influenced by my teachers and by my mentors and choreographers, and now being able to take that information and pass that on to students has been part of the experience.
Dance education has always been my focus.
What is your favorite part about dance?
I just think it’s an incredible physical, emotional, intellectual form of creative expression. It kind of involves the whole body, mind and spirit of a person. I was always a mover. I always had to move and I could never sit still. That physicality has always appealed to me. Dance is physical, but it is expressive and artistic. It’s been part of our human experience for forever.
It can be so many forms of expression.
I am always thrilled to be able to pass that on to people and to students.
When did you start training in dance?
When I was young, I was a gymnast. I played soccer. I really didn’t start in dance until later in life. I started when I was a teenager.
Then I studied dance and I did my undergraduate at CSU, and I think I took two years off between undergrad and grad school. Then I got my Master of Fine Arts at CU Boulder.
During that time, whether I was at school or taking time off, or being a faculty member here at CSU, I have always tried to go and explore other aspects of the discipline. I am very appreciative of the University for the opportunity to pursue my career here.
After you got your MFA, what did you do?
I graduated from CU in May 1988. I taught a summer class in June here at CSU, and then was hired to teach at CSU full-time in August.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I like seeing the development, the growth, the maturity and seeing what people get out of it. I love the learning aspect of it, when you see that somebody has learned something.
I really like to see the improvement and what comes out of it.
When you think about how many years you devote to something, it doesn’t seem like it’s been that long but it really has.
One of the greatest things is knowing what our former students are doing.
Collegian Reporter Megan Fischer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @MegFischer04.