Words by Heather Dixon
Have you ever had a school project that gives you a glimpse of how someone is going to turn out in the grown up world? Their performance in academia foreshadowing their future? This was one of those projects.
I met Jane Rose in the "Disney Class" when we were both attending UCLA. She was in the Master's program, and I was finally wrapping up my Bachelor's degree. It was nicknamed the Disney Class because it was lead by Bruce Vaughn, WDI Chief Creative Executive. In reality, it was titled something along the lines of Theory and Art of Entertainment Something or Other. Against all odds, we both managed to get in and were randomly placed together on the first big group project.
I've followed the careers of many who were in this class, and those who stepped up then have continued to have healthy careers. Which brings me to Jane. There was a semi-panicked call from me the moment before she was about to get on a plane back to Los Angeles. Our big project was tomorrow, and the other members of our group didn't deliver in a big way. She drove directly from the airport to my house. We stayed up that night creating every piece of missing artwork, content, and strategy. The following day, not only were we spared from getting completely ripped apart, but we were the only group to ace the project with flying colors.
At that moment it was clear, Jane is the kind of person you want on your team. She will have your back, she will inspire you to reach past your limits, she will keep the stress levels down and work with the utmost diligence. Most of all, she will show you that even when you think you have been stretched to your breaking point, you can go even further. It also helps if there is an endless supply of Red Vines, Coke Zero, and Red Bulls. Thanks for that late night run, Bobby.
Strong and graceful not only describes Jane's ability to maneuver through space, it is a perfect description of her personality. She's now a tenured professor at Cal State Los Angeles, an aerial arts instructor, an Emmy winning sound designer, and a partner at DConstruction Arts, an artistic development team who manage and produce multimedia shows. Apart from all that, she's a wife, a mother, a rock climber, etcetera. When you think she has finally topped out, she surprises you by adding an additional thing to her list.
She Floats Through the Air with the Greatest of Ease
What pushes a person to continually create? Jane seems to be fully surrounded by a community of creative people and creative pursuits, and yet still there seems to be an internal voice that tells her to search for another outlet. While she returned to academia for the intellectual stimulation, her creative side was still in search for a way to articulate her ideas without the burden of having to be a commercially viable operation.
Jane has been an aerial artist for 9 years now. During one of her performances, her future business partner happened to be in the audience, reached out, and began an exceptionally creative company that stretches the expectations of performance and installation art. The company and the work comes from a place of total collaboration between the two.
Her Movements are Graceful, She Tries Hard to Please
When a company is still in its infancy, the pressure to control all aspects is hard to avoid. As the company grows, a symbiotic relationship needs to occur with those you allow in. How does this person feed into the needs of the company? Finding the right person can be difficult. So the struggle becomes staying true to your passions, doing the paperwork, and still being open to new ideas from people who can support you artistically. There is a delicate balance to controlling the narrative and yet being willing to hear other points of view.
I tease Jane that she's going to need to go back to school for her doctorate so she can manage the logistics of her company. She shakes her head and laughs out a sigh. "No, no..." She trails off and suggests that she's thought about this a few times. With resolve, she says she just needs to find the right people to work with and let the nuts and bolts of the company go into experienced hands.
Doing Turns Like a Bird, She Flies Without Wings
What we would give for more time. Jane appears to be in zen with her work/life balance. Part of that may be to her ability to zero in her focus but the other must be that she allows herself to be flexible to the unknown.
My mind wanders to a time we went to a theme park for her birthday. There was no plan, an open timeframe. She made me ride the most thrilling of attractions seven times in a row, we drank margaritas, and we wandered with no set direction. It was bliss. Yet even though the day seemed endless, her mind was still working and making plans. It was her final year, and she was developing an interactive project. Even in moments that seemed open to frivolous play, her mind was still whirring with the work she needed to do.
Maybe balance is not a seesaw but an acrobatic Chinese pole.
She Flips and She Flies, High Above You and I
As interactive media develops, Jane's fascination is leading her to uncharted areas of creativity. The future of interactivity and sensor-based experiences that immerse the audience is nearly limitless, allowing her to expand into new tactile territories. The ability to reach a broader group can open ideas to new ways to interact, but it can also paint the artist into a creative corner. Who is in control? In many ways, you willingly give it up with the allowance for complete immersion. No longer can you precisely control the viewpoints, and to a broader extent, even the narrative.
I Wonder When She Will Come Down
Love Is… an ongoing presentation created by Jane and her partner, Tavi Stutz is in its newest iteration an open discussion between the performers and the audience. How do you define love? How do you hold onto it? How do you know when to let it go? Bobby and I saw the show one Saturday in January, and the talent from the artists is in no doubt. With each performer physically interpreting their ideas on love, the projected media beautifully intertwine with the performance on the stage.
Beyond the beauty of the show itself, there was a personal reaction. There is my friend and she is twirling through the air, on a stage that she has materialized herself. I hear a lot of people talking about the things they are going to do, including me. Yet here she is, doing it. Soaring in a world of her own manifestation.
She Catches the Bar in Only One Hand
By creating DConstruction Arts as a non-profit organization, Jane and her partner made the intentional choice to create art for art’s sake and less for financial gains. Eventually they will need to give up control and find a way to build a coalition of like minds, letting others develop the infrastructure to chase dollars.
We talk about Cirque du Soleil, it's an obvious reference. She makes a valid point, Cirque was always for profit. I bring up burlesque, a direction aerial arts has moved into. Yes, it can be art, but again it is tied to needing the ticket and merchandise sales. For Jane and Tavi, DConstruction Arts is about artistic exploration without the financial boundaries so many other companies face. It makes the execution of shows challenging, but liberating.
She Must Be the Bravest In All of the Land
One of Jane’s big dreams for her company is to continue to build a platform for artists to explore each of their domains. Her stage will be a place that allows their voices to be heard. Her passion brings a variety of creative people together, to develop their ideas without limits. She'll do it too, creating new opportunities, and melding media and performance art into one seamless experience.
Her phone buzzes, our short time is up and yet we've talked through histories and hopes and ambitions. A year has been covered in an hour, Jane is efficient that way. Watching her run back to the theater where she is currently in rehearsals, I can see the gears turning, clicking through her to-do list.
Oh Where Did She Learn to Fly the Way That She Does
Ask yourself, how can you add one more event to your life? One more facet that helps to strengthen your identity? Then think back to Jane and learn how to master control with flexibility.