Margaret Erlanger, the seminal founder of Dance at Illinois, believed there should be
lively interactions between academia and the professional field. Jan Erkert herself was invited to the University of Illinois as a guest artist in 1980 by Patricia Knowles. Jan returned every fall for 10 years, teaching and creating works for students that were performed at the Krannert Center and beyond. These Illinois residencies provided Jan with a space to workshop ideas, hone her teaching, and forge relationships with the students, who as alums invited her to conduct residencies at their institutions. Shaping creative exchanges and building sustainable artistic lives through artistic residencies became a core tenant in her leadership when she became head of the department in 2006. During her tenure she established the Beverly Blossom/Carey Erickson Alumni Award funded by Richard Erickson, which supported guest artist residencies by alumni and further developed the guest artist residency program, bringing in such artists as Trisha Brown, Ping Chong, Bill T. Jones, and Nia Love.
The Jan Erkert Legacy Fund for Guest Artists was established through generous donations made by the Dance Partners Advancement Committee (DPAC) in honor of Jan’s innovative leadership and lasting imprint on the Department of Dance. This fund ensures that Dance at Illinois can continue to provide a home for artistic research and creative work by supporting annual guest artist residencies for years to come. Learn more about how you can make an impact in the lives of Dance at Illinois students by supporting guest artist residencies.