JENNY JOHNSON
Jenny was born in Bristol on November 2nd, 1945, to Jewish parents.  Her mother, Sylvia Geller, was born in England but her maternal grandparents, Meyer and Fanny Geller (ne é Berg), came from Minsk  – in what is currently known as Belarus   while her father was an American naval officer during the 1939-1945 World War.  As they were unable to share in her upbringing, Jenny was placed with various "mothers" until 1947 when she was finally adopted by Gladys and Leighton Johnson, who lived in Westbury-on-Trym.  She began to write poems at the age of six, by which time she had been an enthusiastic pupil in a ballet class for two years.  From 1957 to 1964, she was a pupil at The Red Maids’ School  (now Redmaids’ High School).
Poetry writing, including a poem about the meeting with her birthmother, Sylvia, in 1984, continued until she was fifty, after which her creative energy became almost dormant for a decade.  When, quite unexpectedly, it re-emerged, it was through both poetry and choreography for circle dancers.  The latter has been a passion almost equal to that of writing and Jenny is grateful for the influence of her main teachers: Julie Bell and Chrisandra Harris in Nottingham, Valerie Dawes in Devon and Friedel Kloke-Eibl, who lives in Germany. Jenny sees all circle dance as an opportunity to integrate mind, body and spirit: to heal the individual, the community and the wider world.  She first came to it in 1996 while beginning to recover from her third bout of severe depressive illness.  There is no real divide between the spiritual and the secular, she believes: if music, of whatever kind, touches the heart and is the inspiration for a dance, that in itself is to be honoured. Jenny now lives in Exmouth, Devon, with her husband, Noel Harrower; here, by the sea, she finds the energy much more conducive to creativity than it was in the city.  In 2015, she returned to poetry writing on a regular basis and is currently creating Dreamlines,  an extended family of poems based on her own dreams.  She is also a qualified Reiki therapist.  Besides having a son, Alex, who is married and lives in Nottingham, she is the owner of an adult tricycle, Triksi. Sylvia Sutton (neé Geller) died in 1986 in Hampshire, having returned to England after many years of living in Chicago.  Jenny is in touch, via Facebook, with her cousin, Perree Geller, whose daughter, Georgia, is a talented musician and whose son, Sidney, is a prof- essional dancer.  Jenny is always searching for Geller or Berg relations, however distant, so would be delighted to hear from more of them!
       Portrait by Naa Ahinee Mensah
Nottingham        2017