Renter Spotlight: JoAnna Mendl Shaw - Gibney
Week of August 5, 2020
Making space for

Renter Spotlight: JoAnna Mendl Shaw

On a normal day, Gibney’s 23 studios are a bustling artistic nexus. We love walking down the hallway and seeing different artists, different projects, and different communities making each space their own. We are missing that feeling, and want to find a way to share it with you.

We’ve asked a group of renters whose rehearsals, showings, workshops, and events have been postponed or suspended to give us a glimpse of what they’re working on, share the ways we can support them right now, and tell us what the first thing they’ll do is once they’re back in the studio.

The first thing we’ll do? Close our eyes, feel the floor supporting us, and take a deep breath of gratitude.


“We believe that our work will have interesting resonance when this epidemic is over.”

Who are you?
We create performance works with horses—ridden horses and sometimes just the dancer and the horse. We were just beginning to work on a new performance piece with horses When COVID began. The performance would have taken place May 17th, last Sunday. We do most of the initial choreographic work live with the horses but then rehearse the details of the movement material and spatial patterns in the studio. With all those details worked out, we integrate them with the horses and riders. Here are two photos from the performance we did with these same groups of teen riders, all part of a therapeutic riding program, and their trainer in November. Portions of the performance are also without horses, all work based on Physical Listening.

How can we support you right now?
We believe that our work will have interesting resonance when this epidemic is over, so we would love to have folks see these photos and know about what we do. We perform outside. Social distancing is possible for our audiences but more importantly our work is about touch.

What is your favorite memory of working in Gibney’s studios?
Rehearsing a piece called After Image with huge pieces of paper.

What are you most looking forward to about being back in the studio?
Dancing with other human beings.

What is the first thing you will do when you are back in the studio?
Have a company group hug and then set up some killer improvisation structures and spend 2 hours dancing together!