| 13 September 2006
Jane Schnorrenberg danced in front of the biggest crowd she's likely to appear before in 1994. She performed with the Lily Cai Classical Chinese Dance Company in the Oakland Coliseum in front of 17,000 people. The company opened for a little band called the Grateful Dead at the group's Lunar New Year show — "a surreal experience," says Schnorrenberg.
(inset by Wendy Edelstein; large photo by Aster Teng)
At 43, Schnorrenberg, whose campus role is assistant to Vice Chancellor for Administration Nathan Brostrom, has been dancing since age seven. She started with standard ballet and persevered through high school. But then, as a student at Mills College, she discovered modern dance and "went to the dark side. My body type is much better suited to non-ballet works," explains Schnorrenberg. "Ballet is pretty unforgiving in what body type it looks for."
Schnorrenberg calls herself "a practical artist who believes you have to support your art if it isn't fully supporting you." To that end she's struck a balance between dance and doing administrative work. Severance pay from a layoff in the private sector enabled her to complete an MFA in choreography at UC Davis in 2004, and a previous casual appointment in University Relations at Berkeley allowed her to take a month off to perform in Davis professor Della Davidson's Sideshow Physical Theater in Santa Fe last year.
For 20 years Schnorrenberg has danced under her mentor, Davidson, who has encouraged her to expand into choreography. Schnorrenberg recently began collaborating with a Sideshow colleague, Kegan Marling, to create emotional pieces that are about "relationships and strange interactions between people." A dream of Schnorrenberg's — about two people who don't get along but find themselves stuck on top of a wedding cake — inspired a duet accompanied by rambunctious Japanese pop music. "We do odd works like that," she says. "It's a lot of fun."