Amidst beautiful green trees, Jenny Baxley Lee smiles. “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 her remembered moments, Jenny is a natural trail blazer with a flair for making her heart’s wishes possible. Her career as a dance/movement 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.
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 a lifelong love of the arts at the forefront, Jenny found a way to incorporate these elements into her final year of undergraduate work. Employing her skills as an artist, Jenny improvised her degree requirements, finding ways to bring dance into her mandatory coursework. 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 (DMT) 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 that she used, alongside her dance/movement therapy training, in her work in pediatric hematology/oncology at a children’s hospital. 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 dance/movement therapist by a nonprofit art organization to engage adults with developmental disabilities and mental health diagnoses. Jenny continued down her curvilinear career path, serving as the Director of Arts and Services and launching an arts in healthcare initiative to be used 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 flows as she actively moves from clinician to administrator, dancer and performer, to teacher. 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 diverse and the breadth of her experience is seen in the wide stretching reach of her many roles. She is a lecturer in University of Florida’s Arts and Medicine program, a DMT clinician, a conference presenter, a study abroad director, and a teacher. She leads community Authentic Movement groups, co-leads a Dance for Parkinson’s Disease group, is busy designing alternate coursework for DMT, engages in career counseling, inspires and is inspired by her students.
“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.” 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.