Reed between the Lines
Amoruso, Susan, Dance Teacher
The buzz around campus about Janet Reed, an assistant professor of dance at Buffalo State College in New York, is that dancers enrolled in her high-energy classes must be prepared to work hard, sweat and even be sore the next day. From the minute students enter the studio, Reed demands complete dedication. In return, she offers a total commitment to teaching. "If students have gotten as far as the door, that means they want it, so I try to give them all I've got," she says.
Reed comes to the classroom with extensive professional achievements and life experiences that have shaped the teacher and artist she is today. She has created various workshops and programs for institutions including the Arts Institute of Western New York and the African American Cultural Center, and has earned a teaching degree in physical education at the State University of New York at Brockport and a master's in theater and dance at SUNY Buffalo. Her unique choreography, infused with ballet, modern, jazz and African dance, has secured her recognition from the New York State Council on the Arts, the Arts Council of Buffalo and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund for Women. Reed is the artistic director both of the Buffalo City Ballet, which introduces inner city youth to ballet, and of her more than 10-yearold African-contemporary troupe, Janet Reed and Dancers.
Like many of her students, Reed struggled with the decision of whether to attend college or go professional and came to terms with physical attributes that precluded a career in ballet. Reed shares her past in her classes and tries to equip the more experienced dancers with the knowledge necessary to overcome the obstacles involved in pursuing a career as a choreographer, dancer, teacher or artistic director. "I tell students that to be serious about dance you have to do it every day, for at least two to four hours a day," she says. "If you really, really want to perform, it's six hours a day."
The serious students are not her only focus, however. Reed welcomes undergraduates who minor in the artform, taking class for recreation and to connect with their bodies. Beginner dancers learn the importance of class etiquette, spatial awareness and endurance. They may even discover a latent talent, explains Reed. "I've learned early on not to discourage anyone," she says. "It's very unfair when teachers walk in and say, `Oh, she'll never be a dancer, look at the body.' Accept her body and find her passion. You have to take time to nurture students."
Reed teaches two 120-minute classes per semester that can range from beginner ballet to modern to African diaspora technique. …