February 2, 2021 | By Lexi Janssen | Back to blog

Happy new year! My name is Lexi, and I am an honored Bolzie in the inaugural class of the Arts and Creative Enterprise Leadership master’s program.  While I, along with many others, am happy that 2020 is over, I am so grateful for the lessons in flexibility, opportunities for learning, and powerful experiences it brought me.

In May 2020 I graduated from UW-Madison with an undergraduate degree in Retailing and Consumer Behavior, and certificates in Dance and Entrepreneurship, a varied combo that you’ve seen mirrored in my classmates.  Through my senior year internship with the Madison Ballet, I solidified my goal to open a dance studio.  My intention was to combine the skills from my degrees with the experience I gained from my internship to serve as a base for my entrepreneurial endeavors.  Yet, I knew there were still holes in my knowledge, experience, and confidence that would need to be filled before I’d be ready to launch a business.  Plus, life added in a pandemic, so next steps were definitely hazy.

And then, almost like fate, my boss Jonathan at the Madison Ballet told me an industry colleague named Sherry, was starting a master’s program with a focus on entrepreneurship and leadership in the arts.  I met with Sherry to talk about the program, and suddenly the fog around my future started to draw back; a connection formed between where I was and where I wanted to be.

What I didn’t see at the time was that this wouldn’t be a straight path. Instead, it would be a network of connections developed through Sherry’s creativity and the hard work of our professors.  Through the program’s lectures, unique projects, speaker series, and organization placements I have been given a network with practical knowledge, connections to industry professionals, and real-world experience.  I now have a holistic view of the arts-business industry with detailed knowledge and people to turn to when my knowledge may fall short.

With all the amazing things I have gained through this program and the additions that will come this spring, I want to use art to change the world.  A big goal, I know, especially when it feels like the world has fallen apart in the last year and left the arts far behind.  But I believe that art is one of the few things that can have very real impacts on an individual’s soul while uplifting a community as a whole.  For me, using art to change the world starts with the children in our community.  With the negative effects of things like social media combined with lack of social interaction due to the pandemic, it’s more crucial than ever to build up our children’s confidence through creative outlets.  Dance classes and performances are amazing ways to do this because dance combines the benefits of physical activity with creativity and a sense of community, sprinkled with opportunities for lessons in self-compassion and respect.

As I look back at 2020, I am thankful for everything it brought me, especially this program.  It is my hope to use my knowledge and experience I am gaining in the Bolz Center to open a dance studio that cultivates an environment of acceptance and inspiration, where if I can change the life of even one child, I will have changed the world.


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