Alumni Interview: Jeanine Henderson Kitching
Jeanine Henderson Kitching, BA '08
Interviewed by Morgan McAuley
Area of Study: English
With the sound of crowds and kids in the background, Jeanine Henderson Kitching calls me from a dance competition, demonstrating her mastery of multitasking. Having graduated from Western in 2008 with a BA in English Language and Literature and Dramatic Literature, Jeanine runs a fully established dance studio in Stratford, Ontario. Jeanine admits to me that she never would have expected to be a small business owner when she was in her first year at Western. During her undergraduate career, Jeanine was heavily involved with Theatre Western and the dance community. She choreographed many shows at Western, including West Side Story, which is no easy task as Jerome Robbins’ original choreography blends several styles together and is extremely innovative, speaking to Jeanine’s skill as a dancer. Her favorite course was Modern Dance, which I didn’t even know existed. Jeanine expresses to me how being so involved during her time at Western distracted from the arts stigma, and she didn’t really feel like there was a stigma surrounding arts at all – her group of friends were all in arts and she was proud of being an artist. Overall, she loved her time at Western and feels like the experience has shaped who she is today.
Jeanine’s Arts education has translated seamlessly into running her own business, helping her to think outside of the box, handling a massive amount of responsibility, and thinking critically about situations. Throughout our conversation, kids interrupt and the dance competition buzz continues in the background, but Jeanine carries on, revealing her experience with being busy– a skill she attributes to her time at Western. She believes that, above all, it is important to do what you love and to not worry about money. Yes, you have to be tenacious, says Jeanine, and yes, it won’t be easy at first, but she is now someone who created her own job in an area of her strength and passion and she loves it every day. She impacts the lives of over 300 of her students, exercising the right side of their brains, and building them to be artists and innovators in their own lives. She also suggests that anyone interested in pursuing a dance career should contact her and she would be more than happy to act as a mentor. Jeanine’s time at Western allowed her career path to become more focused, and after teaching dance for a few years post graduation, she was able to create a job for herself. However, what I gathered most from Jeanine is that pursuing an arts education is not about reaching the end goal of finding a job: an arts education is about pursuing what you love, what makes you tick, and sticking with it long enough to make the most of it in the pursuit of being happy.