Called “one of the most exciting dancers to ever step on the world stage,” Joel Hanna is a world-renowned dancer and choreographer known for his athletic and boundary-breaking mixture of tap dance, musical percussion, Irish dance, and martial arts. Hanna has lived something of an entertainment fairy tale, performing for dignitaries from Queen Elizabeth II to United Nations diplomats at the opening of the World Youth Assembly.
A darling to theatre critics, Joel has been praised for his panache and bravado on stage. His choreography in Pastures of Plenty, a tribute commissioned by the Woody Guthrie Foundation, was selected by the New York Times as its Pick of the Year in 2012. As a performer, he has shared the stage with legends such as Pete Seeger, Andrea Bocelli, Charles “Cholly” Atkins, Will Millar, Jimmy Slyde, Jeni LeGon, Dianne Walker, Jason Samuels Smith, and Dave Eggar.
Joel received his first big break in 1997 when he joined Riverdance: The Show, performing throughout Britain and North America. During this time he was selected to be the subject of a documentary, coproduced by the CBC and Riverdance Company, called The Badboy and the Hometown Girl. After two seasons, Joel joined the original stars of Riverdance, Colin Dunne and Jean Butler, to perform in their production Dancing on Dangerous Ground in London’s West End, Radio City Music Hall, and the Royal Variety Performance.
For four years, Joel choreographed and starred in the critically acclaimed production Fire of Dance, performing as the original lead soloist on more than 200 stages a year. Joel went on to create Revolution: Sweat, Dance, Rock & Roll in 2007, which debuted in New York City at the world-famous Joyce Theater during its 25th anniversary season. Joel went on to become the headliner act for Choreography On the Edge to sold-out audiences in historic Woodstock, New York for three years and was a soloist at the Jacob’s Pillow Concert Series for two years in a row.
Joel is a passionate humanitarian with a generous spirit who donates his talent to charitable causes close to his heart. In 2013, he performed at The Scottish Lion Meets the Asian Dragon, as part of From Scotland with Love, a New York fashion event benefiting the Wounded Warriors Fund, where he appeared with Arun Gandhi, peace activist and grandson of the Mahatma Gandhi, who has since said that “Joel Hanna is being the change we all wish to see in the world”. In 2014, he became the program director in Shakti Caravan in Udaipur, India and created “Fighting For Change”, a women’s Martial Arts program with The Vanaver Caravan, a New York based internationally acclaimed non-profit world music and dance company. In 2016, he reprised his role for a fourth time as Artistic Director, Choreographer, and Soloist for The Vancouver Spring Show, where he worked with Bian Liu Nian (composer and music director of the Beijing Olympics ) and Teng Ai Min (Choreographer of the B Olympics).
In between shows and productions, Joel spends his time mentoring young emerging dancers through The Vancouver Tap Society (BC), The Vanaver Caravan (NY), The D’Amby Project (NY), Simon Fraser University (BC), New York University (NYU) and Columbia University (NY). He is a sought-after teacher due to his flexible and creative physicality, which he developed over the years as a percussionist and martial artist, with additional training in Flamenco, modern dance and guitar. He has taught and choreographed award-winning pieces for schools and professional dance companies in Central America, South America, Asia, Europe and the United Kingdom.
Joel is directing and producing innovative and highly creative pieces through his company, J-Han Dance, while collaborating with industry titans on new projects that challenge the traditional lexicon of the performing arts around the world.