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As an educator, Hettie has taught at several Colleges and Universities, sharing her love for dance and exploring how to create spaces where form and technique are being learned, perspective is being shared, culture is being experienced, and history is being discussed. In addition, she has worked as a Visiting Artist-In-Residence in Dance at Skidmore College in Saratoga, NY, a Visiting Ass. Professor of Theater and Dance at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, and Stephens College in Columbia, MO. She has also been a Guest Artist at the University Of Rochester, Suny Potsdam, Suny Brockport, Suny New Paltz, and Sam Houston State University. Hettie graduated from Columbia College Chicago and is currently earning her  MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts, Performance Creation Concentration focusing on Art and Activism, from Goddard College. 



Artist Statement

As a multidisciplinary artist, I specialize in choreography, direction, filmmaking, and education, all unified by my passion for movement. Movement is my expertise and my preferred way to communicate. Yet, my disciplines in theater, music composition, and film allow me to perform, teach, and speak as a dance practitioner and scholar without borders. By adopting an interdisciplinary approach, and combining these disciplines into the work I create, I connect with a broader range of individuals and communities. My work is a reflection of my existence as a Black queer woman, and I channel my emotions and inquiries about life into my creative process. The work itself is a protest because it originates from a place of intersecting identities, and through my art, I address issues related to race, sexuality, gender, and religion. Through art, I believe we can acknowledge differences while discovering commonalities, leading to healing and changeSuccess for me is creating performances that not only entertain but also educate and inspire audiences. Fueled by the many artists who have paved the way for me to feel flight, I am indebted to the trailblazers who came before me, and I hope to continue the legacy of making beautiful performances that merge art and activism. 


Let's talk about it…


I aim to instill a sense of the presence of movement in my dance technique courses. The movement quality, teaching, and training are derived from Afro-Contemporary Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Musical Theatre Dance. While my training is across the board, my focus and expertise are teaching movements of the African Diaspora. Decentering the eurocentric standard of dance technique and recentering the history of movement of West African, Caribbean, and Black social dance in the theory of modern, jazz, and hip hop styles, forms, and meanings. Whether teaching these techniques and styles individually or fusing them together, attention is focused on incorporating challenging compositions and designs to develop a conceptual awareness of space, time, and musicality.

My classroom structure aims to enhance motor skills and condition the body for strength, coordination, endurance, and flexibility.  Integrating non-traditional exercises to prepare the student to execute combinations and retain the information taught in class.  I work towards creating inclusive spaces that foster learning, sharing perspectives, experiencing culture, and discussing history. This approach allows for a shared agency, where everyone's input is valued and contributes to the final product.


The work was created in Spoleto, Italy at La MaMa Umbria International. A process-based experience, loosely inspired by the play The Island by Athol Fugard, John Kani, and Winston Ntshona and films; I Am Not Your Negro, by James Baldwin,  A Love Letter to Brian Lesley, and Michelle, by Hettie Barnhill and  To Sir, with Love, by James Clavell.  Both the play and films were used as source material for students to begin thinking about how ‘race’ is used in these art mediums. My work continued with exercises to enhance ensemble building, asking the students to reflect through physical movement. Gesturing based on the reactions that they had from the source material. There were daily movement workshops to warm their bodies up and Movement work that consisted of structured improv. My goal was to keep the work energizing and for them to connect their lived experience to the topics of race and injustice. 

Cultivating Curiosity 2017  |  NYC Dept. of Youth & Community

In 2017 & 2018, we had the honor of teaching over 150 students at ten different sites throughout Brooklyn, Harlem, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx. This opportunity and experience have been true soul food, and I am forever grateful to have met all of these wonderful kids. Thank you to the #NYC Department of Youth & Community Development and the #CultivatingCuriosity program! Take a second and watch this incredible video by MOKM Creative Services documenting my summer with these superstars :)



Please contact me directly for my CV
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