Spotlight on Jenny Baxley Lee, BC-DMT
Amidst beautiful green trees, warmly hugged by hot humid air, we sat talking dance therapy and life pathways. Jenny Baxley Lee smiled. Her words danced. “I have not wasted one moment of my life, not one. Everything I have done has led me to another place in my journey.” Her voice, strong and clear, her eyes reflecting the many moments she had lived, experienced, and passed through. Jenny is a natural trail blazer with a flair for making her heart's wishes possible. Her career as a dance therapist has spanned the world, linked professions, curved and swirled with diversity, and is a continuous integration of knowledge and skills. She is a bridge – connecting one thing to the next with her talents, wisdom, and incredible drive.
Life loves from the beginning, Jenny finds strength, inspiration, and the tender practice of cultivating emotional intelligence through dance, theater, and song. She began her undergraduate studies with an interest in music education, but chose to pursue degrees in Human Development and Spanish. A personal loss nudged her more fully into the arts, as she moved through the healing process by dancing, teaching, choreographing, and performing. With her life love of the arts at the forefront, and the intrinsic feeling of well-being when fully participating, Jenny found a way to incorporate these elements into her final year of undergraduate work. Employing her skills as an artist, Jenny improvised around her degree requirements, finding ways to bring dance into her mandatory courses. She viewed child development through a dance lens, and partnered with both a children's dance theater and a nonprofit organization that provided dance to children with disabilities to create her internship. Her interests revolved around the idea that quality of life was different between those who did and did not participate in the arts. An advisor introduced her to Anna Halprin's work and the field of Dance/Movement therapy and, as Jenny neared graduation, she began applying to Antioch New England Graduate School. “With a clear vocational direction of Dance/Movement Therapy . . . I have never looked back.”
Jenny actively designs her moments. During her internship at Antioch, she acquired a Child Life certification. She used this certification and her DMT training in her work in pediatric hematology/oncology at a children's hospital. The job “looked more like Child life than DMT” and Jenny resigned from it as she moved into her new role as a mother. Soon after, in a venture she called Dancewise, she began doing contract work, practicing DMT with adults with memory loss in long term care facilities. Next, Jenny was hired as a DMT by a nonprofit art organization to engage with adults with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses. She describes her career path as “curvilinear,” as she moved from being a clinician with varying populations, into another type of role. Jenny cultivated her administrative side while serving as the Director of Arts and Services and launching an arts in healthcare initiative to be of use for five local hospitals. She kept up her clinical work part-time, while learning a wonderful new skill set in the areas of grant writing, program development, implementation, and evaluation.
Her career is filled with motion and flow as she moves from clinician to administrator, dancer and performer to teacher. Jenny's time has been spent in a plethora of settings and with a variety of populations, and it seems her interests include bringing the arts into medical settings. Her early undergraduate choices continue to resonate, as she is guided by her original interest in the quality of life in those who participate in healing arts. In 2011, Jenny traveled to Rwanda with the University of Florida Center of the Arts in Medicine AIM for Africa trip. Soon after, she joined their faculty.
Her current work is full and multi-dimensional. She is a lecturer in the Arts and Medicine program, a clinician, a study abroad director and teacher . . . her work is diverse and the breadth of her experience is clearly seen in the wide stretching reach of her many roles. She leads community Authentic Movement groups, co-leads a Dance for PD group, is busy designing alternate coursework for DMT, engages in career counseling, inspires and is inspired by her students. She is a traveler, a presenter at conferences, and she uses her dance therapy work with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“The most rewarding aspect of the work is the actual chance to move. I will never cease to be amazed at the capacity of movement to transform a moment, to raise awareness, to bring light, and to make you feel so good. Simple, but true.” At this moment in her career, she is most inspired by her students, specifically witnessing the BFA dance students who realize they desire more than the excitement of being on stage.
Her work is expansive. Jenny has tapped into her trail blazing power – diving into a diversity of moments, acquiring skills and experiences that allow her to engage fully in her work. She is a skilled creator, leaving a bright glowing pathway in her wake. In her own strong voice, she describes her career as “curvilinear path at dusk calls . . . “