The Gustavian Weekly

Gustie of the Week: Jane Chung

By Ben Miller | December 7, 2012 | Gustie of the Week

A theatre major who loves to dance has brought a renewal to physical theatre on the Gustavus campus. <em>Allison HosmanAllison Hosman</em>

A theatre major who loves to dance has brought a renewal to physical theatre on the Gustavus campus. Allison HosmanAllison Hosman

Between dance performances in Kresge Dance Studio and theatre productions in Anderson Theatre, this week’s Gustie of the Week spends a large portion of her time doing the thing she loves most: performing.

Jane Chung, a senior Theatre Major originally from Tokyo, Japan, discovered Gustavus while she was looking at colleges in the Midwest. During her visit, she met with Assistant Professor of Theatre and Dance and Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies, Henry MacCarthy, who is now her advisor.

“Henry is one of the primary reasons I came to Gustavus,” Jane said. “I wasn’t going to go to a small college, but when I met him, I knew I had to learn something from him.”

“I think the most exciting thing about working with Jane was seeing her entire journey since she started working with us during her first year,” MacCarthy said. “She is a very hardworking actor, she is very responsible and sets very high standards for her work.”

Along with influencing Jane’s choice of college, MacCarthy also played a major role in Jane’s choice of major.

Jane’s piece for Nobel included a roll down the front stairs of the Chapel and putting the feel of the music to movements.

“I was in Henry’s Physical Theatre project my first-year, and knew that this was what I wanted to do,” Jane said. “The Theatre Department gave me opportunities to take risks and try many different areas of performance in general.  They encouraged me to take dance, music, and theatre classes. The major itself requires you to direct, do stage management, and every aspect of carrying out a production. This variety of experience has made me really confident going into the market after college.”

“I really admire how Jane has found a passion that she wants to develop and how she focuses on that,” Senior Ian Shay said.  “She really has a drive to be successful and to learn and grow here, in music, dance and theatre. She really has a performing spirit.  I think she is really going to go places, and will open some eyes and change some minds.”

“Jane’s work is really at a place where dance and theatre meet.  She has been a pioneer for student work in physical theatre on campus,” MacCarthy said.

Jane attributes her interest in dance to former Gustavus Professor of Theatre and Dance, Jeffrey Peterson, who encouraged her to take Beginning Jazz.

“Jeffrey taught me the joy of moving.  After that, I was just pushed further and further.  With so much support from the professors, I just kept going,” Jane said. “I feel like my dance style is creepy and organic.  That’s what my friends tell me at least.  My strength is being in the moment, being purely in the space.  And I want the audience to feel like they can do this too.  It’s like a bug bite. You don’t think about scratching it, you just do. I want dance to make people feel that too.”

Jane is also involved in music at Gustavus, she studied piano with Associate Professor in Music Dr. Yumiko Oshima-Ryan and is involved in choir.

“Jane is an amazing student with high energy and always tries for something new,” Oshima-Ryan said. “She is really creative and fun to work with because she always has new ideas to try and works to be perfect.”

Jane’s striving for perfection and creativity is also something that friends notice about her.

The ‘dark and creepy’ style of dance that Jane brings to the stage is offset by her creative and fun spirit. Allison Hosman

“Jane has a very sharp eye for art and is very driven by her passion for creating things. She has this personality that balances seriousness and joking at the same time,” Shay said. “I really value her friendship and being able to sit down and talk at a personal level, which is good for the community. She is an inspiring conversationalist and she contributes to an environment of strong community and teaching and learning outside of the classroom.”

During Nobel Conference 48 Jane choreographed a solo piece to mirror the theme and performed it with a piano piece played by Oshima-Ryan. The piece took place in Christ Chapel and allowed Jane to explore the movement of her body.

“Choreographing and performing the Nobel piece was one of the most valuable experinces. I did it all by myself, I put myself in front of the audince and let them take what I was putting in front of them,” Jane said.

Jane has recently finished her Shared Space choreography for Shared Space … Connections in Space, which she said was an experimental run for her senior project, which is focused on the really raw part of people’s bodies.

“It’s deep and creepy. It’s about what’s under the surface.  It’s my job as director to tell my cast to keep going deeper, even if it’s dark and scary.  My Shared Space piece wasn’t a failure, but it wasn’t what I wanted, process-wise. I do really like what it looks like, just not how I got there,” Jane said.

Her work is being supervised by MacCarthy and will premiere in April.

“People eat when they feel hungry. I have a hunger for dance and moving, and I feel the need to act on that,” Jane said.