For City Dances, Fresno City College embraces the creative spirit of Janice Jansen

On the day that Cristal Tiscareno started working at Fresno City College as a new hire in the dance department, she walked across campus to the dance studio with her new department head, Janice Jansen. She’s never forgotten that walk.

Pictured above: Donald Munro’s 2004 story in the Fresno Bee about Janice Jansen’s retirement from Fresno City College.

“Janice had a pep in her step,” Tiscareno says. “She was greeting everyone. Students, faculty, and staff. She was telling me, ‘Cristal, the secret to thriving here at Fresno City College is teamwork. Understand that it takes knowing and appreciating everyone here on the campus. Everyone is an important part of the journey, the students, staff, faculty and administration.’ To this day, her words echo in my mind.”

For decades, Jansen was a dance powerhouse at the college. (She retired in 2004.) One of her trademarks was City Dances, which she started in 1974. Since then, students have performed in the event more than 90 times.

The college is giving a shout-out to Jansen for City Dances Fall 2023, which opens Friday, Nov. 10, and runs through Sunday, Nov. 12.

“We thank her for her foresight, leadership and passion for dance in our community,” Tiscareno says. “Janice’s vision to build a dance department that is diverse and inclusive is seen even today on the stage. Through City Dance, generations of performers have become artists, built self-confidence, gained life-long friends and been blessed with a memory, a moment in time where they could transcend into the performer.”


Along with Tiscareno’s artistic direction, two guest choreographers are contributing:

Alumni Eric Gomez will be bringing back a dance he created in 2004 titled “Acropolis.” The performance will be dedicated to Jansen.

Alumni Alexandra Tiscareno will also be creating a dance, “Absurd Little Lemons.” She is artistic director and founder of Aleño Dance Company. This dance takes anger, apathy, nihilism, and absurdity and gives it a twist-while asking the question: When is enough, enough?

Tiscareno is asking all past City Dances performers to wear white.

“We hope to recognize them and their contribution,” she says.

Covering the arts online in the central San Joaquin Valley and beyond. Lover of theater, classical music, visual arts, the literary arts and all creative endeavors. Former Fresno Bee arts critic and columnist. Graduate of Columbia University and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Excited to be exploring the new world of arts journalism.

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