Head and Professor
Professor Jan Erkert is a dance maker, teacher, author, and head of Dance at Illinois. As the artistic director of Jan Erkert and Dancers from 1979 to 2000, she created over 70 works, critically acclaimed for their lush, evocative imagery. Erkert's work has been seen throughout the United States as well as in Germany, Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, Uruguay, and Israel. Erkert and the company were honored with numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council and Ruth Page Awards for choreography and performance. She has received a Fulbright Scholar Award and is currently serving on the Fulbright Peer Review Panel. She has been a strong spokesperson for innovative and interdisciplinary education, speaking at numerous national and international conferences, including the Academic Chairperson Conference, the National Association of Schools of Dance conferences, and the international conference Performing Arts Training Today. Throughout her career, she has devoted much of her energy to advancing teaching and learning about dance. She authored Harnessing the Wind: The Art of Teaching Modern Dance, which was published in 2003 by Human Kinetics, and she has been a master teacher at universities and colleges throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. As a professor of dance at Columbia College Chicago from 1990 to 2006, she garnered many awards, including the 1999 Excellence in Teaching Award and a nomination for the U.S. Professor of the Year sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation. Her political and community work includes partnerships with the Kovler Center for Survivors of Torture, the Peace Museum, and Amnesty International. In her role as head of the Department of Dance, she has spearheaded numerous collaborative projects, including the construction of the Graduate Dance Center with student and faculty architects and environmentalists.