by Nicole Harris
This fall I lost my mind a little bit, bought a Jet Blue “All You Can Jet Pass”, sublet my apartment and spent a month traveling around the country. It was a wonderful adventure filled with friends, family, lots of walking, art, beautiful weather, and a lot more walking. (Oh yeah, and a very large quantity of airports and airplanes.) I went to nine cities in those thirty-one days (eleven if you consider I went to Baltimore, Annapolis and DC all in one stop), took thirteen airplanes, knit five scarves, visited (at least) eight museums/galleries, read two books, sent innumerable postcards (Hey, someone has to keep the USPS in service. I’m just doing my part!), went on one underground tour and spent time with people I haven’t seen in months, years and in one case even a decade! While I could spend the afternoon regaling you with tales of my trip, what I am really here to tell you about is one woman I met for the first (and hopefully not last) time on the first stop of the adventure, Houston, TX.
Before I started out I spent some time looking up choreographers to interview while on the road. Now, as some of you may know, my family does a lot of work regarding cancer research fundraising. My mother has participated in countless fundraising walks and races, was the chairperson for the American Caner Society’s Relay for Life in Natick for three years, held fashion shows and dart tournaments all to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for cancer research over the last ten years. Not only is this a passion of my mothers, but something that has spread throughout my family. You wont find a Pam Harris event that doesn’t also have her husband, daughters, siblings and in-laws doing their parts. So when I discovered the first Houston choreographer I found also dedicated her life to raising money and awareness, I knew that Jane Weiner was a woman I wanted to meet.
Jane had spent ten years in New York dancing for Doug Elkins (just one of many of my favorite choreographers that came up during this interview!) when her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"She had a nine month old baby and a lump that was in her body for eighteen months. The only way I could respond, aside from wanting to shoot the doctor who she told three times that she had a lump, was art with cause. So I started with Robin Staff (of DanceNOW), David Parker and Sarah Hook and we started the Pink Ribbons Project. All of us were affected by it. We had a little performance at DTW for two nights. David Webb was still there at the time and he gave us the place for free and we made $10,000 over the two nights."
The Pink Ribbons Project donated that money to NABCO (National Alliance for Breast Cancer Organizations) who went to DC and and presented seven women with stage four cancer to the FDA. Clinton was president at the time and he was working on fast tracking a series of cancer drugs. Three of those drugs were passed and immediately put on the market.