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Assistant Director / Choreographer
“The Mighty Wa”, as some colleagues dubbed her long ago. Dr. Kenwa Lee Newell is a professional fight choreographer of 22 years, specializing in period weapons and sword work. She has choreographed and performed fight scenes in multiple theatre & opera productions, film & tv shows. Her weapon of choice? A rapier & dagger! (That’s 2 of her weapons, but oh well...) Kenwa is also a classical theatre director, with (of course) Shakespeare as her forte, directing “Richard III”, Midsommer & Much Ado (last 2 she restaged in India), amongst her favorites. Other directing highlights include Oklahoma and The Path of the Peaceful Warrior, a play based on a tale from The Ramayana. Highlighted Shakespearean roles include The Nurse in Romeo & Juliet, Ceres in The Tempest, The Queen in Cymbelline, Lewis in The Life & Death of King John, Blunt & various battlefield soldiers in Henry IV, Part One, and Julia in Two Gentlemen of Verona. Other acting highlights include Medea in Euripides’ Medea, Eve in a staged production of Paradise Lost, Lucy in the Historical Musical Drama The Ballad of Black Jack, The Poetic Incarnation of Rumi in Rumi - Path to Enlightenment, & the Naqqali in Zal & Rudabeh, a traveling storyteller in which she embodies 12 different character roles. She toured with the prestigious Djanbazian dance & theatre Company for Rumi and Zal & Rudabeh.
Kenwa is also a professional dancer & dance choreographer of many decades, specializing in East Indian Dance forms. Highlighted roles include The Executioner in Paheliyan – The Story of Alice, The Hindu Priest in Khel, and Pippin. Kenwa is also a judge for The World Choreography Awards held annually in Beverly Hills. She has also worked as a contortionist for several tv shows, including Liv & Maddie, Austin & Ally, and Parks & Recreation. Vocal operatic performances include L’elisir d’Amore, Carmen, La Boheme, Die Zauberflote, and Moses with LA Opera. Kenwa is also a film producer and is co-executive producer of the 2021 feature film Son of the South (executive producer Spike Lee, co-executive producer Frank Barwah), a civil rights historical biopic, based on the life of activist Bob Zellner. Now streaming on multiple online platforms! Film acting highlights include Sibyl in The Outcast of Camelot, and herself in Justin Case - You’re Famous!
Kenwa also worked as a recording engineer in various studios, and sang in numerous funk/RnB bands. She loves playing drums and still misses that old Gretsch kit with the full warm tone. Kenwa has a background in physics and astronomy, & worked for 8 years as an instructor for NASA/JPL, with a focus in Archaeoastronomy — the exploration of the connectedness amongst Ancient Monoliths/Megaliths and the stars. She is also author of the upcoming book Astronomy, Astrology & Ancient Civilizations” She has attended with great pride the rocket launchings and arrival transmissions of many of her students’ missions.
Kenwa grew up in NE Kansas, in a large limestone house built in 1856. The very house where abolitionist John Brown organized the 1st battle on record to fight and end slavery — five years before the Civil War began. This and surrounding events compose the subject matter for the historical aforementioned musical The Ballad of Black Jack. She is a lifelong plant-based athlete who has advocated since childhood for humans to recognize the sentience and ensoulment of each and every animal as an individual, with each animal individual’s inherent and fundamental birthright to live a full, free and peaceful life. She has done numerous public speaking engagements on this subject, amongst many others. She will continue to advocate for, defend and champion them, with her words, her actions and her swords. Thank you to Dr. Wentz and all of the cast and crew who worked with devotion to discover and embody Mozart’s work. And thank you for attending our performance today!