Leigh Schanfein

Artist in all she does...

photo by Tristan Pope, 2014 


Life began in Berkeley, California.  Seven years later, I was growing up in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and falling in love with horses, choir, and dance, amidst academics and many other activities.  I spent my senior year of high school in Vienna, Austria, from where I traveled extensively and continued my study of ballet and choral singing until graduation. 

I returned to the States to attend the University of California San Diego, where I earned a B.S. in animal physiology and neuroscience, and minors in dance and German studies.  I then went on to Purdue University where I earned a M.S. in kinesiology with a specialization in biomechanics.  As a graduate student, I taught undergraduate health and kinesiology courses and received multiple local and international awards for my research with dancers.




Through years of studying ballet technique and modern dance, and striving technically and artistically in performances ranging from student cabarets to professional ballet companies’ Nutcrackers, I discovered and developed an intense interest in why and how the human body can move in such extraordinary ways.

My academic focus was derived from this study of ballet technique and its physical requirements in conjunction with artistry and performance.  My goal became to ultimately mix science and art by conducting movement research with dancers.  I came to perform biomechanical research based in ecological psychology, concerning postural control.  I studied how we use sensory information to control posture, and used dancers as a population of particular interest.  Ideally, I envision being able to perform movement analysis and dance technique analysis, working towards technique improvement, injury prevention, and movement efficiency.  This will lead to improvement in dancers’ career length and career quality.

After an internship, years of conference volunteering, and independent research at their facility, I joined the staff of the Harkness Center for Dance injuries, NYULH, as a Research Associate in Fall 2012, where I worked until early 2018.



photo by Rob Kunkle, Goodlux Photography 2009


Since moving to New York City in October of 2009, I have be extremely fortunate to work with multiple small dance companies on a regular basis, a handful of larger works, and some commercial and event gigs as well.  The diversity of these companies and performances allows me to perform classical and contemporary ballet, contemporary, and modern work, with the occasional jazzy work thrown in!  

I have performed my own choreography with co-choreographer Shanna Daly, as part of the Works in Progress series at Dance New Amsterdam, my own work at Bizarre Bushwick and PMD Open Series, two works commissioned for the Spring 2012 concert of composer Jonathan Howard Katz, and five works for Periapsis Music and Dance that have since been performed at Symphony Space, Kumble Theater (LIU), the DiMenna Center for Music, Roulette, Elebash Hall at CUNY, the Salvatore Capezio Theater, LeFrak Concert Hall at Queens College, The Secret Theatre, Actors Fund Arts Center, Spectrum NYC, and Dixon Place.


photo copyright Linda Diamond 2009

In an effort to share my art and knowledge with the dance community, I accepted an adjunct professorship and began teaching biomechanics to the dancers at Barnard College in 2015, I am a contributing writer for Dance Informa Magazine since 2011, and I continue to teach as a guest artist in NYC and wherever I am invited.

Please see the calendar for upcoming shows! 


Photo by Jaqi Medlock, 2018 

Upcoming Events

No upcoming events

Recent Videos

849 views - 0 comments
742 views - 0 comments
888 views - 0 comments