GW Alum Takes on Netflix with New Series, "We Speak Dance"

We Speak Dance: it’s bingeable, it’s snackable, it’s all round fabulous.

photo of dancers from We Speak Dance
January 04, 2018


“Dance is a tool, a weapon for social change, empowerment and even revolution. It’s an international language that connects people regardless of nation, ethnicity, class or gender.” - Vandana Hart



GW Alum, Iwonka Swenson

photo of iwonka swensonFilmmaker Iwonka Swenson attended GWU as a Presidential Arts Scholar and graduated in 1998 with a BA in Dramatic Literature and a minor in Modern Dance.

Swenson is a veteran producer, director, and writer, with more than 14 years of experience in long and short form narrative and documentary television filmmaking. Specializing in on-location production, she has produced original programing across a variety of genres for National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Investigation Discovery, TLC, Smithsonian Networks, and PBS, as well as educational and promotional programs for various non-profit organizations.

Her extensive experience both domestically and abroad in sometimes challenging places like the Karakum Desert, the Transylvanian Alps, small villages in Kenya, urban environments with high crime, or on the side of a volcano in Iceland, has allowed her to develop an expert skill set, simultaneously managing story and content while directing talent and crews large and small in complex logistical situations.

"GWU helped me crystalize a lifelong love of dance, which has allowed me to engage with the people and places around me in a more meaningful way.  As a filmmaker, that’s crucial." - Iwonka Swenson


She has recently been involved writing and producing the new Netflix series, We Speak Dance, which she calls "a labor of love." The series went live on Netflix worldwide on January 1st. 

About the series

“This art form was a way for people to free themselves” - Ha Minh


The show follows creator, former UN Advisor and Alvin Ailey trained dancer, Vandana Hart across the world to explore how dance connects people, places, and culture. The series was directed by Chris Keener, with GW alum Iwonka Swenson working as one of the principal filmmakers involved on the project. 

From Indonesia and Vietnam to France, Nigeria, and Lebanon season one of We Speak Dance reveals how dance joins us together through revolution, sacred ceremonies, and sexuality.


photo of dancers from We Speak Dance

“You're feeling your emotions. You’re connecting with your community. All of these things are what keep us human." - Raio


The show is experiencing great traction on Netflix and was recently featured in the NY Times.

Check out the trailer here.


photo of season one we speak dance poster


What are you waiting for? Watch the show now on Netflix!

“Dance comes from the soul, it is a spiritual thing” - Yeni Kuti

The Mission

photo of syrian children in lebanese refugee camp being funded for dance educationWe Speak Dance aspires to connect a community of dancers from around the world into a global “United Nations of Dance”. The community seeks to spark dialogue and change around the world by using dance as a means of communication, protest, and revolution. The community will rally around short-term fundraising goals for dance classes and social education in areas of need around the world, as well as gather together to spread the power of dance from person to person and nation to nation. Our current campaign revolves around raising funds to bring dance and empowerment classes to Syrian children in a Lebanese refugee camp.

Donate to support dance classes for Syrian Refugees on GoFundMe.


“Dance is a tool to speak, and to address the issues you really feel need to be addressed” - Bimbo Obafunwa


For more info about We Speak Dance, visit the show's website.