Lois Welk was inspired to pursue a career in dance after seeing a dance performance by Daniel Nagrin (The Peloponnesian War). She earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Dance and American History at State University College at Brockport NY, where Richard Bull became her mentor. In 1972, she founded the American Dance Asylum Inc. (ADA), a producing and service organization for the performing arts. From 1973-1979, she co-directed the ADA (then based in Binghamton, NY) with Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane. For more than 25 years the ADA has produced Welk’s artistic projects, among them The Parking Ramp Dances, The Train Station Dance, The Carousel Dance, The Hiawatha Island Dance, and most recently, Moving the Music. She been a member of the dance faculty at 171 Cedar Arts Center (Corning, NY), Alfred University (Alfred, NY) and has taught for various arts-in-education programs across New York State. Her work as executive director of 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, NY (1988-2002) earned her a New York State Governor’s Arts Award in 1998. At 171 Cedar Arts Center, Welk developed a nationally recognized presenting program that included concert dance, artists’ residencies, a jazz series, family programming and a world folk music festival. Program growth warranted a capital campaign and expansion project that more than doubled program space adding a 170-seat black box performance space, exhibition space, and two additional dance studios.
From 2003-2006, Welk served as artistic director of The Yard Inc., a performing artists’ colony on Martha’s Vineyard. In January 2005, Welk was appointed the director of the New York State DanceForce, a network of organizations and individuals working to increase the quality and quantity of dance in New York. As director, Welk brought leadership to the re-structuring of the organization and expanded the reach of the programs.
Currently, Welk serves as a board member of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and is a member of the Mayor's Cultural Advisory Committee. She is also one of Philadephia's Creative Connectors.
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