Shawn Renee Lent moves this world as a social practice dance artist, program manager, writer, non-profit arts consultant, dance educator, and facilitator.
Shawn Renee Lent moves this world as a social practice dance artist, program manager, writer, non-profit arts consultant, dance educator, and facilitator, with experience from a field in Bosnia to a children’s cancer hospital in revolutionary Egypt. Her work is investigating embodied peace, diplomatic innovation, and the arts as a conduit for critical social intervention.
- Programs and Communications Director for Chicago Dancemakers Forum
- Co-Director of Professional Development for the Illinois chapter of the National Dance Education Organization
- Lead of Dance Peace, an initiative creating dance education opportunities for refugee children and teens alongside their diverse neighbors in Chicago [Dance Peace was featured on PBS P.O.V. and Atlantic Media]
Shawn is a dance educator with 29 years experience, and has earned certification from Youth Protection Advocates in Dance and in “Mental Health in the Arts” from the Center for Creative Arts Therapy. Shawn is currently a teaching Artist-In-Residence at Educare Chicago/Ounce of Prevention Fund, Music House, Le Ballet Petite, Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov High School, and Marshall Field Garden Apartments/Art on Sedgwick.
Shawn served as the EducationUSA Egypt Advising Coordinator at AMIDEAST Cairo (through the U.S. Department of State) 2013-2015, receiving an award from the ambassador which is a rare honor for a non-embassy employee. She is honored to have been a U.S. Fulbright Scholar to Egypt 2012-2013, a United Nations Alliance of Civilizations International Fellow, and the 2014 Commencement Speaker for Millikin University. From 2006-2012, she served as Arts Integration Program Specialist for Columbia College Chicago’s Center for Community Arts Partnerships, and from 2015-2017 she was a writer and Alliance Building Lead for the think tank and online publication Createquity and, from 2017-2019, an editing contributor for the Clyde Fitch Report.
Shawn creates dance experiences that haven’t before existed in the world, and is becoming an artist on her own terms. Her recent works include collaboration on Global Water Dances – Flint MI 2017, years of arts programming at 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital of Egypt, and a project through SUNY Purchase bringing dance conservatory students into dance activism in Yonkers (example videos available here). She has spoken about her practice while a panelist/presenter at the University of Maryland, Brigham Young University, Hope College, Chapman University, Columbia College Chicago, German Mission to the United Nations, Universal Exposition Milan, Dance + Social Justice Conference at NYU, and TEDx Shibin El Kom. In 2013, her blog post Am I a Dancer Who Gave Up? went viral.
Since 2016, Shawn has led Dance Demonstrations with community members, volunteer artists, and collaborators such as Full Court Press 2nd Line Jam Band, Kristina Isabelle Dance (stilt dancers), and Heather Stark-Killian (puppet designer). These efforts were given the recognition of 2017 Best of Chicago: Best Use of Dance as Political Protest by Newcity Magazine.
Inauguration Day 2016
Presidents Day 2017
March to the Polls 2017 (Active Citizen Dance Demonstration)
March for Science/Earth Day 2017
Shawn also worked with various volunteers and partners to lead dance demonstrations for the Womens March, Gun Control, Racial Equity/Response to Charlottesville, Affordable Healthcare, Peace/Immigrants Welcome, and more.
IN THE WORDS OF OTHERS…
From Creative Placemaking @4creativeplaces, “a bold artist who continues to break through barriers in her personal arts practice and her overall arts advocacy.”
From Newcity Chicago, “If anyone is deserving of a foreign service officer status in dance, it’s Shawn Renee Lent. As program director of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum, she’s been at the fore of advocacy for Chicago social and protest dance. But as a dancing, critical political conscience of the city, she’s also a phenom always already all-in. One of those few worthy of the claim to have honored a commitment that conjoins artistry and activism, Lent choreographs the best in us as a city that won’t give the time of day to our lesser angels.”
From Karen Bradley, Associate Professor of Dance Emerita at University of Maryland, “On the topic of dance and global peacemaking, there may be no one more knowledgeable and aware on the topic. She is a natural global and cross-boundary thinker and a true change agent.”
From Sydney Skov of the Dance + Social Justice Conference, “Shawn Lent is a surprising force; when she leads a workshop, her calm demeanor gives way to the kind of energy that sparks excitement and encourages all involved to engage with every activity. She immediately creates a safe, communal space with her practiced and authentic facilitation skills. As a speaker, Shawn brings unique perspectives to discussions and clearly demonstrates a deep expertise of her fascinating field.”
From Associate Professor Angela Yetzke at Hope College, “Shawn speaks a powerful message and a much-needed one about bringing art into every part of our world and wearing our artist hat in every conversation, every situation. She inspired our students to dream bigger. They left her workshop encouraged and hopeful about using their art for greater things.”
From The Honorable Maged Refaat Aboulmagd, Consul General of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Chicago, “Many thanks for your most inspiring activities in Cairo as well as here in America. That’s what’s most needed.”
From Cynthia Weiss, former Assistant Director at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships, Columbia College Chicago, “Shawn is the rare individual that excels at both the visionary and operational work of running a program. She is trained as a dancer and choreographer and is also a consummate, professional manager. She can access the best from both worlds and offers an expansive new model of leadership well suited to the needs of the culturally diverse global economy.”
From the Fulbright Commission in Egypt, “As a Fulbrighter, we think your experience in Egypt has been unique and exceptional where you clicked the right note on both the academic and cultural levels.” “We’re lucky to have you as one of our ideal Fulbright alumna. Thank you for being such a great cultural ambassador to the U.S. in Egypt!”
From an undergraduate student awaiting news if she got a Fulbright Student grant, “Just know that 15 minutes of looking at your blog/website brought a sense of empowerment and good energy.”
From 57357 Children’s Cancer Hospital Egypt, “As Shakespeare said,’There are no other words I can say but thanks and thanks.!!’ Your participation at our first ever camp was pivotal to its being a success. Thank you for sharing your time and great talents, seeking us out all the way from Chicago and spreading the international language of dance to our children.”