Spotlight On: Jonette Lancos, Professor of dance

Professor of dance Jonette Lancos has been committed to dance since childhood after a tap dancing class that ignited a long, varied career. After tap dancing, Lancos moved on to take classes in all styles of dance. As all of her friends quit dancing, Lancos only continued to advance.

Lancos cites seeing the Lar Lubovitch Dance Company in Pittsburgh, Pa. as a turning point in her dance career. It was her first time seeing a modern dance performance. After the show, her teacher surprised her and her classmates with an assignment: choreograph a modern dance.

Although nervous about the assignment, Lancos created a dance inspired by The Nun’s Story, a 1959 film. Lancos called this assignment the “first kernel of expressive dance for myself.”

Approaching high school graduation, Lancos realized she had not thought about what she would do with dance after her senior year. She decided to apply to the Boston Conservatory and later attended as a dance major and drama minor. Lancos said it was “so amazingly shocking to be at an audition in a big city.”

Lancos served as a teaching assistant and led some classes for younger children at her former dance studio when she was an older student. That was her first taste of teaching, and the Boston Conservatory recognized her talent for education. Lancos began teaching at a dance school in the suburbs, developed by the conservatory.

Following her graduation, Lancos obtained a job as a dance teacher at Misericordia University. She later became artistic director at the Wilkes-Barre Ballet Theatre. Soon after, she took a job at Geneseo.

“It is just so fulfilling to see students really take this knowledge [of dance] and make a career and just be so influenced by it, and it is what makes me enjoy teaching,” she said.

As academic coordinator of the dance studies program, Lancos has achieved many accomplishments through her teaching and dedication. She published a book called Reclaiming Charles Weidman (1901-1975): An American Dancer’s Life and Legacy and has been awarded the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.

“Since [I was] 7, dance has been a part of my life, but what I think that keeps me in the field is the ability to use my creativity and personal expression,” Lancos said. “Arts allow that. The arts give the students ability to have imagination and creativity.”