Keyierra Collins is a dancer, teaching artist, and choreographer based in Chicago, IL. Collins earned a BA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago where she studied varies dance forms including West African, modern, jazz, ballet, some hip hop forms, and improvisation. As a dance artist, Collins has collaborated with a number of choreographers including Onye Ozuzu, Paige Cunningham, Margi Cole, Emily Stein, Anna Martine Whitehead and Sonita Surratt. As a choreographer, Collins's work explores how dance and movement can be used to heal trauma, particularly the collective and individual trauma experienced by people of the African diaspora. Having traveled and worked with artists in Haiti and Nigeria, Collins wants to continue to travel and collaborating with artists around the world.

I am interested in how dance and movement contribute to the healing of trauma, particularly the collective and individual trauma experienced by people of the African Diaspora. My dance training is rooted in African dance techniques, which keeps me connected to spirit and the ancestors.The connections between both worlds make me a contemporary artist. My work creates a platform for people of color; historically traumatized and oppressed, to voice our expectation for change, liberation, as well as healing. As a black woman who grew up around many different black women, I have always been inspired by our fortitude and continuous courage to be present in our bodies despite our hardships. I am a vessel of release for those women. I want to continue the process of healing through my work. As an artist, I do not foresee a final performance, as I am on a revolutionary path of working to align my body with spirit. I see my work as a form of ministry that links together those who participate in it and see it. Human connectivity drives my curiosity. My work endeavors to answer: What social codes do we follow? What are our common ambitions, coping mechanisms, and desires? How do we care for one another and ourselves? How does the relationship between the past and present influence who we are and how we walk through the world? Overall, I am interested in the process. I offer myself as a vessel for the process to flow through me.

—Keyierra Collins, Artist Statement

Photos: Jovan Landry 

Video: Wills Glasspiegel and Brandon Calhoun


Keyierra’s project during the Greenhouse program is both a durational piece and a dance for the camera that explores the limitations and possibilities of her body. She will be filmed pulling a cart attached to her body through Washington Park and other South Side locations with active communities. The action will demonstrate the historical employment of the black female body as a tool for manual labor. Filmmaker and composer, Jovan Landry will be on the cart with her music equipment, creating the sound score on site.

Mentor: Raquel Monroe
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