Mathew Janczewski Celebrates a Life in Dance

Arena Dance performs his world-premiere duet “Anthem” at the Fitz

anthem Dan Norman Photography
Arena Dances’ Anthem

Photo by Dan Norman Photography

Artistic director Mathew Janczewski started Arena Dances a few years after he graduated from the University of Minnesota, where he had worked with many internationally known directors, choreographers, and teachers. 

These days, as Arena marks its 20th anniversary, Janczewski reflects on his new role as somewhat of an elder statesman. “I’m having these fond memories of things I used to do and now can’t necessarily,” he says. “Now I want to pass on joy to the new blood in the dance community.”

Janczewski is by no means ready to be put out to pasture—he’s still performing with his trademark kinetic physical virtuosity and polish, and he’s an acclaimed choreographer. But a dancer’s life is often materially difficult and always physically demanding, so his company is rightfully celebrating that impressive two-decade run this month with Anthem at the Fitzgerald, which combines two of Janczewski’s previous works with a world-premiere duet. 

The latter is called “Duet at Home,” and features Janczewski and one of his dance partners of 15 years, Amy Behm Thomson. “She’s been one of my great muses,” he says.

Arena has worked with more than 50 dancers in its tenure; what began as a scrappy startup has become an outfit with considerable legacy and impact—and looking ahead, Janczewski’s perspective is focused on finding meaning through experience. 

“When I was starting out way back when, my train was moving so much faster,” Janczewski says. “My vision was ahead of what was happening. But now we can say, Hey, we did a lot of great stuff, and utilize that experience to keep growing.”

The Fitzgerald Theater