Small Dance Collective is a group created by independent artists, Anya Hernandez and Rachelle Dart. “Small dance,” a term borrowed from Steve Paxton’s contact improvisation, is the dance we experience in the stillness of standing. When we are still and quiet enough, giving all our attention to our standing position, we notice the micro-movements our bodies do to stay upright. This balancing act is our “small dance,” a place of presence and possibility. It is a dance of stillness, awareness, connectivity and balance. It is standing, rooted in ourselves and open to each other.
Inspired by this imagery, Small Dance Collective seeks to create physical theatre work rooted in community storytelling and embodied listening. By collecting stories, memories, and interviews as research, each creative process invites individuals to be seen, heard, and known. As we begin each creative process with a step back, the work naturally overflows from a place of listening and a desire to honor one another’s stories.
Previous projects have explored themes of powerlessness (Medea in Me, 2018), home (Grounded, ASU Theatre Lab, 2018), and nurture and nourishment (One Woman, 2019). Projects are exploratory in nature, often manifesting as a series of workshops and interviews which cultivate a space in which individuals can connect and engage in a dialogue about common experiences, questions, and themes. This space of creative discussion and expression offers a unique experience of empathy and acceptance.
Co-founder Rachelle Dart is a performer, theatre maker, traditional storyteller, teaching artist and Sonoran Desert dweller. She earned a Bachelors in Theatre with a Concentration in Acting from Arizona State University and is a certified teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework®. She is an Advanced Actor Combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors and is passionate about safe stage violence in education and performance. She apprenticed in the craft of storytelling with Irish storyteller Liz Weir, MBE. She loves being part of Small Dance Collective, and creating physical dance theatre grounded in the celebration of process and community stories.
Anya Hernandez is a teaching artist and co-founder of Small Dance Collective. After receiving her B.A. in Theatre at Arizona State University, she directed and performed for Grey Box Collective, and performed with various companies including Vessel and Brian Foley Dynamic Theatre. Inspired by her experience with socially engaged dance theatre, Small Dance Collective was created out of a deep desire for rich human connection in relational art-making and accessible dance-making.
Tony Potts is a Theatre and Film Artist and our Media Director. He was the Assistant Director and a performer in our ASU Theatre Lab, Grounded, and has appeared in a number of other plays and short films around the valley. Tony received his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Arizona State University, where he served as the Marketing Director for Binary Theatre Company. He has also been working professionally in video production and graphic design since 2015 and is a co-founder of Crunch Time Presents.
Madi Mays is a local Theatre Artist and alumni of Arizona State University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts. While primarily stage managing for theaters in both Phoenix and Los Angeles, she has previously worked as Assistant Technical Director of New Roads school, a director for Stage Dreams Youth Theater, and house manager at Theater Works AZ. Currently, she is the Theatrical Assistant for the City of Phoenix, works for the technical overhire team at Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and is thrilled to be a core member and performer for Small Dance Collective.
Hira holds a Bachelor’s in English with a minor in Creative Writing and a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management. She trained with SITI Company in New York in a 1-year intensive conservatory, practicing Viewpoints and Suzuki Method. Performances include Southwest Shakespeare Company’s Romeo & Juliet and Small Dance Collective’s Medea in Me. With Catalyst Creative, She is designing an Arts in the Park festival and devising Passageways. She is co-directing a play called Rabt. My play All That Matters was read by The Bridge Initiative. She taught drama, Viewpoints, and dance at Mesa Arts Center for 6 years.