Lilly Balch, Dancer

Lilly Balch, originally from Vero Beach, FL, received her BFA in dance from The Boston Conservatory and has certifications in both Vinyasa Yoga and Yoga Therapeutics. During her time at the Conservatory she performed works by Mark Morris, Adam Barruch, Anna Myer, Colleen Thomas, Omar Carrum and Claudia LaVista. She has a constant desire to expand her body, mind, and spirit awareness through a combination of art and somatics. Lilly has danced with SWDA since 2015. 

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Kate Jewett, Rehearsal Director

Kate joined Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2005. As a company member, teacher, rehearsal director and teaching artist, she has conducted master classes at various venues and has performed all over Europe, Asia, Australia, and the U.S. Her own works have been performed at DeSales University, the United Nations, Park Avenue Armory, Milan, the Fabbrica Europa and Performatica festivals. Named Director of Education and Outreach for Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2008, she has created a dance-in-education program for New York City Schools. Kate has been Rehearsal Director for Shen Wei Dance Arts since January 2009.


Burr Johnson, Dancer

Burr Johnson is a dancer/choreographer based in Brooklyn. He holds a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University and works with choreographers John Jasperse, Helen Simoneau, Christopher Williams, and Shen Wei. He has also performed in two reconstructions of Laura Dean's dances: Tympani (1980/2008) and Infinity (1889/2009). In 2013, he premiered Christopher Williams' choreography in Peter Sellars' The Indian Queen. He has also worked for Walter Dundervill, Ryan McNamara, Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay, and Yozmit. His choreographic work has been presented through Movement Research at Judson Church, Underexposed at Dixon Place, OneArmRed, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, Emergency Glitter at Abrons Art Center, José Bienvenu Gallery, Danspace Project, and New York Live Arts. In moments away from dance, Burr enjoys gardening and cats. 

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Janice Lancaster Larsen, Dancer

Janice Lancaster Larsen first started working with Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2005. She received her BFA in Dance from the University of NC School of the Arts, MFA in Dance from Hollins University/American Dance Festival, Relax and Renew® Restorative Yoga certification through Judith Hanson Lasater, and Hatha Yoga certification from the Asheville Yoga Center. As a choreographer, Janice has received commissions at the Bard Music Festival (Annandale-on-Hudson, NY), Robert Wilson's 19th Annual Watermill Center Summer Benefit (Southampton, NY), the Bessie Schönberg Choreographers Residency on the Yard (Chilmark, MA), the Hubbard Street 2 Dance Company (Chicago, IL), the Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center (Asheville, NC), and many through co-founding VIA Dance Collaborative (New York, NY). She has taught and staged work at Universidad de las Américas (Puebla, Mexico), City Dance Center (Bethesda, MD), Roger Williams University (Bristol, RI), University of NC School of the Arts (Winston-Salem, NC), and SUNY (Fredonia).

Russell Stuart Lilie, Dancer

Russell Stuart Lilie attended the Idyllwild Arts Academy. He has worked with Stephen Koplowitz, Gus Solomons Jr., Lucinda Childs, studied at the Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance (SEAD), and has presented his own work at Dancespace Project and La MaMa. He is a recent graduate of NYU/Tisch School of the Arts. He began working with SWDA in 2011.

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Masad Qawishabazz, DAncer

Masad Qawishabazz is a native of Chicago, IL, where he attended the Chicago Academy of the Arts, Joffrey Academy of Dance, and Hubbard Street Dance Center, performing works by Eddy Ocampo, Gregory Dolbashian, Randy Duncan, Gus Giordano, Alejandro Cerrudo, Jiri Kylian, Azure Barton, and Nacho Duato. He received his B.F.A from the University of the Arts, and performed works by Ohad Naharin, Sharon Eyal, Robert Battle, Dwight Rhoden, Ronen Koresh, Eiko and Koma, Lar Lubovitch, Sidra Bell, John Alleyne, and Matthew Neenan. Masad is also a performing artist in Philadelphia where he resides, teaches, and performs with JustSole Street Dancers, and does volunteer work at the Community Education Center and Mazonni Center. Masad joined Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2015.

Chelsea Retzloff, Dancer, Company Manager & Education director

Chelsea Retzloff, originally from Eureka, CA, holds degrees in dance and chemistry from UC Santa Barbara, where she graduated with distinction in chemistry, and received the Daniel G. Aldrich Outstanding Senior Award for the Class of 2007. Retzloff joined Shen Wei Dance Arts as a dancer in 2011 and has toured with the Company throughout the world. In addition to being the Company Manager and assisting with Company rehearsals, Chelsea leads the Company’s award winning arts-in-education programming at New York City’s PS 5 and PS1. In addition to her work with Shen Wei Dance Arts, she tutors math and chemistry for public and private school students throughout NYC.  She has worked with Santa Barbara Dance Theater, David Dorfman Dance, MacArthur Dance Project, Christopher Williams and Glitter Kitty Productions. Chelsea is a founding member of the Round Table, a collaborative group of women artists based in NYC.

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Jennifer Rose, Dancer

Jennifer Rose received her BFA in dance from Temple University in 2006. She also attended The Ailey School, American Dance Festival, and worked with Philadanco II.  She has danced professionally with Kun-Yan Lin/Dancers, Keith Thompson's Dancetactics, Stephanie Batten Bland, Bill Young, Erick Montes, and Manuel Vignoulle. She is pleased to dance with Shen Wei Dance Arts.




Zak Ryan Schlegel, dancer

Zak Ryan Schlegel is a choreographer, teacher, and dance artist. He holds a BFA in Dance Performance from Chapman University in Orange County, CA. Schlegel has performed a diverse range of work in collaboration with LA-based Ryan Heffington, Kitty McNamee, WIFE, and Backhausdance. He has trained with Rafael Bonachela at Sydney Dance Company, Sarah Slipper, and Lucas Crandall at Northwest Dance Project. Schlegel is co-artistic director of LA-based AXIOM Dance Theatre where he creates and presents original work with partner Denna Thomsen. He is the proud recipient of the 2014 Youth America Grand Prix Outstanding Choreographer Award. Schlegel joined Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2015.

Alec Speedie, Dancer & Rehearsal Assistant

Alec Speedie is a native of Austin, CO, and received his BFA from North Carolina School of the Arts in 2011. Alec began working with Shen Wei Dance Arts later that year. In that time he has played a major role as a core dancer and soloist in many of Shen Wei seminal works. Since 2013, he’s been a key teaching artist for the SWDA Arts in Education Outreach program. Working with 3rd grade through 7th grade students Alec excels at helping students with special needs. As a dance teacher he works with students of all ages and has helped develop the Shen Wei Dance Arts Community Class for professional dancers. He serves as a rehearsal assistant for Shen Wei and constructs unique costume elements and creations that help make Shen Wei’s artistic vision possible. He has danced for Mark Dendy and Oliver Steele and has performed works by Lar Lubovitch, Merce Cunningham, and Larry Keigwin. He studies capoeira and enjoys participating in downhill racing sports. 


Maria Volpe, Dancer

Maria Volpe graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Dance from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2015 and is a certified Pilates teacher.  In 2013 she studied abroad in London at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. She has performed in works by Larry Keigwin, Stefanie Batten Bland, Keith Thompson and Randy James. Maria joined Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2015.


Michael Wright, Dancer

Michael Wright holds a BFA in Dance Performance from Southern Methodist University. After SMU he danced at Tokyo Disney Land; then with The New York Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Satellite Collective, Steeledance, The Chase Brock Experience, and Shen Wei Dance Arts. Professionally, work performed includes Mark Morris, Shen Wei, Manuel Vignoulle, Teri and Oliver Steele and others. A certified Pilates instructor, he also teaches dance, recently at Peridance, Dance New Amsterdam, and the University of Stockholm.

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Ricardo Zayas, Dancer

Ricardo Zayas studied on scholarship at the schools of the Dance Theater of Harlem and the San Francisco Ballet. In 2005, he graduated with honors from Fordham University and was invited to join Ailey II in his senior year. Ricardo has also danced with Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Sidra Bell Dance New York, Post:Ballet and Alonzo King/LINES Ballet. In 2009, Dance Magazine named him "25 to Watch.” He began dancing with Shen Wei Dance Arts in 2006.