JoAnna Mendl Shaw is a choreographer and teacher whose work stretches the boundaries of traditional dance. After establishing her early dance career in NYC, Shaw went on to complete an MFA at The University of Utah, teach, tour and perform with the Seattle based Bill Evans Dance Company, teach on the faculty at Cornish Institute and direct her own Seattle company, Danceworks Northwest.
Shaw moved back to NYC in 1991, taught on the faculty at NYU/Tisch, Princeton University and Montclair State. Her 1994 completion of certification in Laban Movement Analysis initiated an interest in developing an interdisciplinary movement language that would bridge dance and athletic training. These investigations led to teaching and choreographing for the Swiss Gymnastic Federation, performance coaching for the Swiss Olympic Gymnastic Dance Team and choreographing for ice dancers and In-Line skaters. Of the five commissioned works Shaw created for Ice Theatre New York, two remain in their permanent repertory. Shaw is the recipient of two NEA Choreographic Fellowships.
In 1997 Shaw began investigating the merger of dance and equestrian artistry and in 1999 formed The Equus Projects, a company of NYC based dancers who work in collaboration with high-level equestrians throughout the country to create performance works for dancers, horses and equestrians. Merging the worlds of arts and athletics, The Equus Projects has produced full evening performance works for arts and equine venues, performed with live orchestras and trained with internationally recognized equestrians. The company has gained national recognition for its innovative teaching of clinics for equestrians.
Shaw currently teaches Composition on the faculty at The Juilliard School and teaches Improvisation, Composition and Choreography in the Ailey/Fordham BFA program.