Hettie has taught at several Colleges and Universities and is currently teaching Theater and Dance at Union College. Previous schools include a Visiting Artist-In-Residence in Dance at Skidmore College in Saratoga, NY, Ass. Professor of Practice and 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 received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts, Performance Creation Concentration focusing on Art and Activism, from Goddard College. In 2014, Hettie opened 'Movement & Characters', a performing arts school that offered professional, industry-level classes for students of all ages, levels, and financial backgrounds. Operating in Greater New York and New York City, the school was established in response to a perceived lack of representation in quality dance education in upstate New York.
I aim to instill a sense of the “presence of movement” in my dance and theater technique courses. 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 movement quality, teaching, and training are derived from Afro-Contemporary Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Musical Theatre Dance. 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. 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.
While in theater classes, Community and ensemble-focused work is the basis of where my classroom begins. I share my scholarship and my practice in devised ensemble building, viewpoints, improvisation, and found text for character building, blocking, and crafting experimental and interdisciplinary theater performances.
I address issues related to race, sexuality, gender, and religion. Through art, we can acknowledge differences while discovering commonalities, leading to healing and change. Success for me is creating performances that entertain, 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.