's (apostrophe s) 2019, University of Maryland, photo credit: Thai Nguyen
Born and raised in small town rural Iowa, ShawnT (they/them) was a self-taught gymnast until the age of 12 when they began competitive USAG gymnastics. At the age of 16 they began their own program teaching tumbling at a local dance studio in their community, as their own gym was 100 miles away. Shawn became a four-time letter winner in NCAA gymnastics for the University of Iowa while obtaining their BA in Studio Art and Communication Studies (2005). They began his professional performing career in 2006 as an acro/dancer in the world famous Folies Bergere at the Tropicana in Las Vegas. They then performed in Cirque de la Mer (’07, ’09, '10) as well as Riptide (’07) at Sea World, San Diego where they did flying trapeze, Chinese poles, tumbling, dance and character work. At the peak of their acrobatic career, ShawnT performed in Le Reve, The Dream created by Franco Dragone at Wynn Las Vegas (’10 - ’13). At Le Reve they were an aerial soloist along with disciplines in aerial harness, acrobatics, swimming, diving, hand-balancing, character work, banquine, dance, and partner work. In 2014 ShawnT was the Artistic Director and Choreographer for Gladius the Show, an equestrian/acrobatic spectacular that performed in Golden, CO and Austin, TX. In 2014 ShawnT began taking dance classes, mainly ballet, about a year after a back surgery on their lumbar spine. Dance became crucial to their physical and mental healing while providing a new relationship, outlet and focus for their passion of movement. During this time, ShawnT also created their first complete series in oil paint, entitled Stability, which consisted of a year and half’s work of painting the spine with a single brush on 24 canvases. They debuted this show at Eden Art Gallery in Las Vegas (May 2015). ShawnT has 23 years of teaching experience in different fields and contexts including studio art, gymnastics/acrobatics, yoga, youth/adult behavior, adult personal training and dance. They continue to paint contemplative abstract works and ShawnT is interested in further exploring the relationship between visual art, movement and choreography. Having a fascination with the mind and psychology, including studies at the master’s level in transpersonal psychology/art therapy, much of ShawnT’s creative work explores the relationship between the mind/consciousness, body and spirit. ShawnT accomplished their Masters of Fine Arts in Dance at the University of Maryland (2019), where they amplified their path of dance/movement, creative research and teaching. They are highly invested in the research of contemplative practice in art making, as well as multi-disciplinary creative work. Currently, ShawnT is based in Iowa City, IA and teaches dance at Nolte Dance studio, yoga at Heartland Yoga, works with adults with severe behavioral and intellectual needs, and practices with individuals in personal training/embodiment practice.