Hannah Romanowsky is a professional performing artist, dance educator, and the founding director of the DanceVersity multicultural youth arts education program. Ms. Romanowsky holds a B.A. in Dance Ethnology with a Minor in World Music, an M.A. in East-West Psychology, and has a remarkably diverse background in both Eastern and Western dance traditions. Hannah began her training at age 6 at the Kreuzer Academy of the Performing Arts and grew up on the stage immersed in theater and dance. By her teens she was teaching and choreographing for community musical theater and dance productions, including Sleeping Beauty, Fiddler on the Roof, Barnum, and Annie, and was a junior member of Dance Masters of America.
She began studying dance, music, and costuming from North Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkan Roma with folklorist Katarina Burda, and performed in her company Aywah! Ethnic Dance Company for many years (view archival video footage) alongside Mira Betz, Elizabeth Strong, Zoe Jakes, and other contemporaries.
She went on to study Persian and Central Asian dance with Sharlyn Sawyer, and has performed with the esteemed Ballet Afsaneh, under the artistic directorship of Sharlyn Sawyer and assistant director Miriam Peretz, at some of the most prestigious venues in the San Francisco bay area, including multiple appearances in the Ethnic Dance Festival at the Palace of Fine Arts, as well as the Houston Museum of Modern Art, the British Museum in London, and the Roof of the World Festival in the Pamir Mountains of Tajikistan.
While in Tajikistan in 2011 she was an artist in residence at the Padida Dance Theater of Dushanbe and trained with some of the most highly regarded masters of Tajik dance. Ms. Romanowsky has also toured China, studied with the Roma of Turkey, and participated in the Desert Dance Festival in Rajasthan, India with Shuvani.
While Hannah’s career emphasis has been on the traditional repertoire of the Middle East and Central Asia, she has also trained in flamenco, North Indian kathak, and dances of the African Diaspora and Latin America with bay area master teachers, including Yaelisa, Chitresh Das, and Ramon Ramos Alayo. In addition, Ms. Romanowsky was a founding artist of Wan-Chao Dance, an ethno-contemporary company directed by choreographer Wan-Chao Chang. In 2010 Wan-Chao Dance debuted Keep Her Safe, Please! Jakarta 1998 at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center, a contemporary work drawing on classical dance movement and music from Chinese and Indonesian traditions inspired by the conflicts in Indonesia 1998 and the universal struggle of immigrants, and co-presented with Gadung Kasturi Balinese Dance and Music, HEI GU Chinese Percussion, and Midiyanto.
Hannah in Wan Chao Dance’s “Keep Her Safe, Please!” performing at San Francisco’s Ethnic Dance Festival (2009)
Other highlights of Hannah’s performance career include the 2010 performance of Miriam’s Well at San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral, an interfaith performance piece directed by Miriam Peretz, and Encounters: New Moon on the Silk Road, a collaboration between Ballet Afsaneh, master kathak artist Toni Minnecola, and an impressive cadre of music artists representing multiple disciplines and traditions.
A first generation American on her father’s side and the granddaughter of performing artists from Belarus and Finland, early memories of dancing with her grandfather to music from her ancestral homeland were fondly engraved in Hannah’s mind, providing the foundation for her later devotion to culturally specific dance.
In addition to ongoing training in the Suhaila format and Jamila format at the Suhaila Salimpour School of Dance, Hannah continues to expand her knowledge and repertoire though the ballroom arts, tango, and swing with her partners Tom Mayock and Suzie Hardt. She teaches classes in Middle Eastern dance at the Marin JCC and Suzie’s Studio in San Rafael, and Persian dance at West End Studio in San Rafael and the Afsaneh Dance Academy in Berkeley.