Rhea Speights

Dance Performance and Video


Let's continue to examine how our behaviors and institutions uphold classism, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other forms of supremacy. In my art-making and teaching, I ask how these expressions of dominance and exploitation drive our world in ways we might not be aware. I believe we are capable of deconstructing these systems and rebuilding our communities in order that everyone can live with dignity and be treated with respect. This is the art.

what's new


I am pleased to announce that Sycamore Toffel and I are collaborating on a new videothing, titled Revolution with Sycamore. With generous support from the Verdant Fund, our project examines intergenerational collaboration, being queer in the Southeastern United States, and the knowledge that accumulates in the body over time. Revolution with Sycamore combines dance film aesthetics with structures of the essay film, and so we digress and meander and chew on many other related and unrelated ideas. Here's a video of us improvising with Michael Glaser at Railroad Park in 2011.

a biography 

Rhea is an artist and teacher, specializing in dance and video. Their work has been presented in backyards, galleries, and theatre spaces across the United States, as well as in Colombia and New Zealand, with support from the Puffin Foundation, the Verdant Fund, the Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the National Society of Arts and Letters. Rhea is committed to the teaching/learning experience and believes that the exchange that happens in the classroom is integral to their work. Rhea has shared their commitment to craft with students at Birmingham-Southern College (Alabama), the University of Wisconsin -  Milwaukee, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Danza Común (Bogotá, Colombia), and various other institutions, festivals, and art centers. They have had the pleasure of performing with Sanspointe and Corpus Euphonium in Birmingham, Alabama, with Steamroller Dance Company in San Francisco, and with April Sellers Dance Collective in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Rhea holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a BA in Telecommunication and Film from the University of Alabama. Rhea's creative practice is influenced by their experience creating with artists they admire, including Jennifer Monson, Sycamore Toffel, KJ Dahlaw, and Lynn Bowman. In making their work, Rhea uses ballet and contemporary dance forms, video, and their desire to fully integrate the imagination with the body. Rhea is currently on faculty in the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Alabama.

selected creative work

2023. Made in collaboration with KJ Dahlaw. Demon Legion features performances by Qilo Matzen and Jesselito Bie (pictured), LoRee Kenagy, James Washington, Bhumi B. Patel, Kevin Wong, Hannah Varga, Sarah Bush, Raven Malouf-Renning, Julianna Cressman, Frances Teves Sedayao, and Anand Jay Kalra, with original music by Mae May and Jenno Snyder.
2019-2020. Made in collaboration with the performers Alexa Manalansan, Chelsea Van Billiard, and Jenna Valez. First a live performance at SAFEhouse Arts (San Francisco, CA), then a videodance to share with you. 
2019. Made in collaboration with the performers Alexa Manalansan, Chelsea Van Billiard, Jenna Valez, and KJ Dahlaw. Presented at West Wave Dance Festival (San Francisco, CA) and Summer Performance Festival 12 (San Francisco, CA). 
2018. Made in collaboration with Jessie Young. Presented at Summer Performance Festival 11 (San Francisco, CA). Photo by Hans Holtan.
2016. With original music by Tim Russell. Performed by students at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee at Kenilworth Studios and by Sanspointe Dance Company at Sloss Furnaces (Birmingham, AL).
2013. Solo presented at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (Champaign, IL) and at Santander in Escena (Bucaramanga, Colombia). Photo by Natalie Fiol.

making and teaching

My making and teaching practices are motivated by the idea that art elevates consciousness and awakens the imagination. I am drawn to dance and video because both are composite forms, which reflect the additive and collaborative methods I use to know the world, and because they lend themselves to making expressions of the world that are recognizable but reformed through fantasy. I believe in the importance of cultivating the imagination and practicing creativity as we try to understand ourselves, connect to one another, and address the challenges of being alive. The art that I make is driven by a desire to interrogate the cultural systems I have inherited and to experiment with new ways of being.

I share my creative practice through classes and workshops that examine theories of moving and making through processes of moving and making. My areas of specialty are composition for performance and video, somatic approaches to ballet and contemporary dance styles, and ballet history re-examined through practice. As we research established methods, we also experiment with possible futures. My desire is for the classroom to be a place where we pursue our own research interests in conversation with one another. I adapt methods and materials for the people in the room.

in the news

"channels an intelligent creativity"


SF Chronicle

"...brought to mind images of Lake Michigan on a cold, rainy day. I could have watched and listened to this piece for hours."


 Shepherd Express

"a vehicle for vibrant energy and drama"



"this potent work left nerves and emotions exposed, due not only to Speights' choreography, but to her riveting performance."


 The Birmingham News


Email - rheaspeights@gmail.com

Tel - 205.344.0598

copyright 2017-2024 Rhea SpeightsHeader photo by Hans Holtan