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  • Steve Sucato

Meet GroundWorks DanceTheater Company Dancer Emma Janus

By Steve Sucato

GroundWorks welcomes its newest company member Emma Janus. The native of Lexington, South Carolina, received her early dance training at the Columbia City Jazz Conservatory in Lexington. In 2022, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in dance from the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase College. While there, Janus performed works by choreographers Ohad Naharin, Annie Rigney, Peter Chu, Lea Ved, and Hannah Garner. Additionally, she attended training programs with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Doug Varone, and Tanztheater Wuppertal. 

Before coming to GroundWorks, Janus began her professional dance career freelancing in New York for Dance Lab NYC’s Spring Lab. 

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? My parents will never let me forget that when I was little, I said, ‘When I grow up, I either want to be a veterinarian or a grocery bagger.’

When and why did you get into dance?

I unexpectedly stumbled into dance. I began doing rhythmic gymnastics until I was ten. When my family moved states, we couldn’t find any places offering this type of gymnastics near us. A dance studio was nearby, and we decided this might be something fun to try instead. I fell in love with it. It’s crazy to think that I get to do this for a living fourteen years later.

What makes you unique as an artist?

My perspective and experiences. I bring everything I’ve been through and all the knowledge I’ve accumulated on this journey of life into my art.

What are you most excited about in your debut season?

I am looking forward to performing alongside my inspiring colleagues. There is something so special about a small company and the closeness that we get to share.

What do you want to contribute to GroundWorks?

I aim to contribute my gratitude and joy. What is something most people do not know about you?

Most people don’t know that I’ve also been a barista for a few years, and this summer, I took second place in a latte art competition.

You say you enjoy poetry. How did your appreciation for that come, and do you have a favorite poet?

Dance is very similar to poetry. Our movements have cadence and rhythm, and the interpretation is up to the viewer. The same things can be said about words on a page. A lot of my dancing has been inspired by poetry over the years, and there are so many things written in my notes app or a journal, though I rarely share them with others. Numerous poets inspire me, but if I had to choose one, it would be Mary Oliver. Nature influences her work, and how she sees the world is genuinely moving. One of my favorites of hers is “Invitation.”

What are some of your initial impressions of Cleveland?

Since I moved here in July, the first thing I noticed was just how green it is. The thought of moving to Ohio was a little scary, but it’s such a beautiful place. I live five minutes from Lake Erie, and the sunsets are unbeatable. Also, after living in New York for the past five years, the cost of living here is amazing!

Learn more about Emma @emmajunejanus Photo by Dale Dong.

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