Dance Performance and Video
Let's continue to examine how our behaviors and institutions uphold white supremacy, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and other forms of oppression. How do these expressions of dominance and exploitation drive our world in ways we might not be aware? We are capable of deconstucting these systems and rebuilding our communities in order that everyone can live with dignity and be treated with respect.
Art is a central component of this process. And I believe we are all artists.
REVOLUTION WITH SYCAMORE
I am pleased to announce that Sycamore Toffel and I are collaborating on a new videodance, titled Revolution with Sycamore. With generous support from the Verdant Fund, our project will examine what we lose when our most experienced dance artists are pushed from the field because of ageism. Revolution with Sycamore will combine dance film aesthetics with structures of the essay film, and so it will meander through all the other questions that arise for us in our process as well. Look for me and Sycamore performing improvisation scores in the nooks and crannies of Huntsville and Birmingham, AL, throughout the first half of 2023. Here's a video of us improvising with Michael Glaser at Railroad Park in 2011.
KJ Dahlaw and I recently presented the final cut of Demon Legion to our cast, crew, and funders at the Milkbar in Richmond, CA. In October 2019, KJ invited me to collaborate with them on a project that would transform a horrifying experience of transphobic harassment into a queer expression of self-empowerment. 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. Check back for screening announcements, or contact us to arrange a screening for your community. Wanna support this project? click here!
Rhea is an artist and teacher, working primarily 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 studying and creating with artists they admire, including Jennifer Monson, Niklas Vollmer, Jessie Young, and Sycamore Toffel. In making their work, Rhea uses ballet and contemporary dance forms, video, and their desire to fully integrate the imagination with the body. Some of their thoughts about the relationship between dance and video are published in a performative essay titled "The Carpet" in Undisciplining Dance (2018), edited by Carol Brown and Alys Longley. Rhea is currently on faculty in the Department of Theatre & Dance at the University of Alabama.
selected creative work
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).
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
"...brought to mind images of Lake Michigan on a cold, rainy day. I could have watched and listened to this piece for hours."
"this potent work left nerves and emotions exposed, due not only to Speights' choreography, but to her riveting performance."