What she does: Jane Weiner started Hope Stone Inc. shortly after moving from New York to Houston in 1997 to care for her younger sister, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Hope Stone is a three-tiered organization that includes a dance and yoga studio, an award-winning professional dance company and an outreach program for children's art and dance education. In 2009, Hope Stone Inc. was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
"We run upwards of 19 adult classes and 11 children's classes," she says. "I try to base it off the New York class model. You have people that are nine-to-fivers, they're truly weekend warriors, so we have classes seven days a week." The Hope Center, established in 2004, is in a renovated Art Deco building in the Montrose. "We're primarily a dance studio, but we're trying news things," she says. The studio offers modern and traditional dance classes, dance fitness, gyrokinesis and aikido sword classes.
Why she likes it: Weiner enjoys being part of what she considers a top-tier Houston art community. "I'll be the first to say we're parallel to New York. There's really top-notch art being done. Mercury Baroque, BobbinDoctrin Puppet Theatre, Mildred's Umbrella, Catastrophic."
What inspires her: Weiner toured all over the world before moving to Houston to care for her sister, who just celebrated 16 years of breast cancer remission.
"Her cancer profoundly changed my life," she says. "All I thought I would ever be was a dancer. I was a muse. I wanted to be someone's palette of colors."
Weiner says her epiphany came after she asked herself what she would do when her dancer's body stopped working. Now, she gives back to the dance community with her artspace grants program, HopeWerks.
"We offer three months of free space to young choreographers who must present a show at the end of three months. Just 30-40 minutes of work," she says "We've had vocalists, dancers, a mix. There's a surge of newbies out there, so it's just giving back."
She also offers scholarships through her Kids Play outreach program and works with kids living at the Krause Children's Center in Katy.
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"My feeling is that art is primary education," she says. "Children need art. It's not a fluffy thing they only get to do when they have enough money."
If not this, then what? "There's a part of me that has always wanted to go to Africa to work with kids with AIDS," she says. Then she thinks for a minute. "I know -- film. I've always wanted to direct a film, or be a cartoon voice. Choreography is a lot like editing film."
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