As a young girl in Russia, Jana Farmer was encouraged to become a ballerina. The Saint Petersburg (then Petrograd) native says that in her home country, it is typical for parents to have their children participate in the arts, whether it be dance, music, or certain sports. While she initially didn’t like ballet and soon switched to figure skating, she later stumbled upon a dance studio while shopping with her mother one day.
“The door [to a local dance studio] was open. What I immediately was attracted to is that everybody seemed to be having fun,” she recalls. “I asked my mom if I could join dancing, and she said yes, and then I just never left.”
Dance photo by John Farmer; headshot photo by Gittings Photography
Art — through dance, history, and even law — has become an integral part of Farmer’s adult life. The Danbury resident is a partner at Wilson Elser’s White Plains location (she began as an associate in 2006) and practices art law, representing art-market participants. Farmer, who has two law degrees (her JD degree from Saint Petersburg State University School of Law with a focus on commercial law, and an LLM degree from New York University in corporate law) did not know there was a discipline such as art law while earning her degrees. As her mother was a painter, Farmer had been heavily exposed to art throughout her childhood, attending exhibitions, fairs, and museums. She even studied to be a docent in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. When she started practicing at Wilson Elser as part of an intellectual-property group, she began representing visual artists and realized the firm needed to grow its art-law practice. In the process of working with artists and collectors, museums, dealers, and governmental institutions, Farmer has helped the firm expand its dedicated practice for art law.
“It was always a dream to see this famous dance hall, where all of the world champions danced, and have an opportunity to compete there myself.”
Her participation in the arts doesn’t end with her legal career, though. She still dances, competing nationally (under her maiden name, Slavina) with her husband, John, whom she met through dance. She and John travel to a variety of dance studios in Manhattan, New Jersey, and Westchester, depending upon their and their instructor’s schedules. The couple racked up an eighth-place finish in the Adult Championship Standard program (consisting of waltz, tango, Viennese waltz, foxtrot, and quickstep) at the 2013 USADANCE National DanceSport Championships, but her most memorable competition was across the pond, at England’s The Blackpool Dance Festival, the oldest and most famous ballroom-dance competition in the world.
“It was always a dream to see this famous dance hall, where all of the world champions danced, and have an opportunity to compete there myself,” she says.
Farmer’s other passions include speaking French (she has intermediate proficiency) and traveling, studying the world through an artist’s perspective.