Dance Past Faculty

Shannon Gillen

Shannon Gillen headshot

Photo by Arnaud Falchier


Through a prolific body of work that activates the body’s potential to express intellectual and emotional concepts, Gillen has pioneered a recognizable artistic language that combines heroic physicality, electric emotional life, and cinematic imagery. In The Santa Barbara Independent’s recent review of FUTURE PERFECT, Gillen was championed for the ‘not only beautiful, but also unfamiliar, amazing, and even inexplicable’ creation. And Brooklyn Magazine named her as one of NYC’s top 20 artists, calling her choreography ‘emotionally compelling’. In addition to creating works for traditional performances, Gillen is also the the in-house choreographer for contemporary women's fashion line PHELAN, and was lauded by VOGUE for her 'mesmerizing' movement installation at New York Fashion Week.

Prior to founding VIM VIGOR, Shannon was a full-time company member in the Johannes Wieland Company at the Staatstheater Kassel, Germany. While there she danced in 56 international performances and was singled out in the press for being, “in top form, a feat of strength” (HNA, German News). In addition to dancing in Germany, Gillen burst into the choreographic scene receiving 3rd Prize at the International Solo-Tanz Competition in Stuttgart, and she continued with a commission at the Mainfranken Theater Würzburg and through Choreografische Werkstatt at the TIF Theater in Kassel. She was also selected as a THINK BIG choreographer in residence with the Staatsoper in Hannover, creating a piece that premiered at the TANZ Theater International Festival. Gillen was also the recipient of Hubbard Street’s International Commissioning Competition, which brought her to Chicago to create a new work that premiered in Switzerland in March 2016.

Upon returning to NYC Shannon founded the non-profit organization VIM VIGOR. Interested in forming a collaborative think tank where the most innovative and profoundly gifted artists could come together to create cutting edge dance theater, the company is committed to exploring the limits of the medium. Obliterating traditional expectations, VIM’s performers propel living characters through vivid shifting landscapes — moving, speaking, and manifesting realities. In the last three years, Shannon has been invited to bring VIM’s creations and educational offerings across the United States, Canada, Central America, South America and Europe.

An insatiable creator, Gillen has choreographed 35 new works since 2010 with notable commissions with L. A. Dance Project, Lobero Theatre/DANCEWORKS, PRISMA Festival in Panama, Ruvuelo in Concepcion, Chile, Treffpunkt- Rotebuehlplatz, b12 Festival in Berlin, Springboard Danse Festival, New York Live Arts, Judson Church, PULSE Art Fair as part of Art Basel, NYC’s River to River Festival, Bryant Park Presents, HERE Arts Center, Festival Oltre Passo in Italy, and Steps Repertory Company for the The Joyce Theater and Jacob’s Pillow.

Gillen graduated from The Juilliard School with her BFA (2003) and from Tisch School of the Arts/NYU (2013), where she was awarded a full fellowship to obtain her MFA. Dedicated to the advancement of movement based education, Gillen holds faculty teaching positions at SUNY Purchase College and is a regular guest teaching artist at The Juilliard School, Barnard College, The Hartt School, and New York University/ Tisch School of the Arts. VIM VIGOR has established a contemporary dance education platform in NYC, which includes contemporary classes, workshops, week-long intensives and the company’s immersive summer program. Gillen also teaches internationally at the b12 workshops in Berlin.