Rhea Speights

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.

what's new


I am collaborating with KJ Dahlaw, artistic director of Unruly Body Tanztheater, on a videodance titled Demon Legion. In July 2021, we had a production shoot in the SF Bay Area with our fellow dance artists Qilo Matzen, Jesselito Bie, LoRee Kenagy, James Washington, Bhumi B. Patel, Kevin Wong, Hannah Varga, Sarah Bush, Raven Malouf-Renning, Julianna Cressman, Frances Teves Sedayao, Anand Jay Kalra, with special appearances by the Unicorns Unite club. Music by mae may and Jenno Snyder. Demon Legion is a queer horror tale of becoming. We will have a private screening for our collaborating artists and funders before submitting to festivals in the fall.

A performance of Reading in Berkeley, California, in 2016.


Moss Rock Festival / Birmingham, AL

Sunday, November 6, 2022, 1:45pm-2:15pm

Improvisation Set with drummer Michael Glaser

Sanspointe Anniversary Concert / Birmingham, AL

March 2023

a biography

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 Alabama State Council on the Arts, and the National Society of Arts and Letters. Rhea has taught 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 the 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).

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 2017-2022 Rhea SpeightsHeader photo by Hans Holtan