We Are Company
Our main belief as an organization is that we are a common collective of dancers, viewers, performers, writers, and experiencers that need space to explore, innovate, and create. We pride ourselves on being revolutionary inside of our company structure and that is fully inspired by the content of our movement work. It is pivotal to our functionality as a collective that we be accessible and continue to give to the community. For the past year, The Collective has been hosting free classes, presenting dance film festivals, providing resources, promoting community events and crowdfunds, and offering space to the community for discussion; this has been quite a rewarding process and because of this, we are ready to expand and shift into further movement research and develop work for the stage.
We are building the dance community we want to see in Chicago, and we’re asking you to step outside of your audience seat and join us in The Collective. We want to be the most competitively equitable, transparent, and dedicated to the sustainability of our company dancers' well-being. We want to weave together amazing performances without our dancers risking their well-being to serve some bodily oppressive choreographic idea.
Our first company show will be an amalgamation of differing dance niches that never found a common home before: GROUND UP will consist of 4 new works completely devised in collaboration with the company of dancers and directors. An invigorating piece of this show will be an improvisational performance, directed by Reign Drop, that will include theater and slam poetry elements while also leaning into postmodern aesthetics. The other new works will be proposed by the dancers in the cast who will apply to be choreographers.
We are not your traditional company; there is no hierarchy. Dancers will spend time building a wolfpack-like synergy to serve the space, the individual movers, and all experiencers present.
We want to prioritize visibility of different perspectives on dance through genre and experimentation of movement as well as technical elements.
Meet the Company
The Company encompasses Company Members, Improvisors, and Choreographers all sharing a mutually respected space.
Tristen Sanborn (he/him)
Tristen Sanborn (he/him) received his early training at a local dance studio in Blaine, Minnesota. He then went on to train in High School, at Saint Paul Conservatory for the Performing Artists, having a concentration in dance. There he trained under many notable artists such as Gabriel Anderson, Jill Lile, Penny Freeh, Sam Johnson, Kaleena Miller, Laura Selle Vertucio, Joe Tran, Lisa Berman, and more. Through Minnesota’s Twin Cities as well as Chicago, Tristen has been seen in various professional performances at and with The Walker Arts Center, The Cowles Center, Common Conservatory, The Tek Box Theater, Berit Ahlgren, Helen Hatch, Scott Stafford, Kaleena Miller Dance, Shapiro and Smith Dance, and more. Currently, he is attending Columbia College Chicago with plans to graduate with a BFA in Dance.
Audrey Hartnett (she/they)
Audrey Hartnett (she/they) grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and moved to the city to pursue her BFA in dance from Columbia College Chicago. In Columbia’s program she was able to expand upon her classical dance training through exposure to different movement practices and influences, ultimately leading to their desire to create dance that honored their background experience while pushing boundaries towards representation and equity in performance. Audrey has been a company member with Meadows Dance Collective since 2020 and also dances as a Repertory Artist with Identity Performing Arts, debuting in their 2022 show “Fearless.
Hannah Ottenfeld (she/her)
Company Improvisor & Choreographer
Hannah Ottenfeld (she/her) is a director, choreographer, dancer, and theatre artist. Born and raised in Chicago, she received her Bachelors of Arts in Theatre with a minor in Dance from Millikin University in 2021. Notably, she was the Featured Senior Choreographer for Millikin’s Dance Ensemble. Since graduating, Hannah has taught dance with several studios in Illinois, as well as at Camp Tapawingo in Sweden, Maine. She currently dances as a member of Perceptual Motion Inc., as well as a founding member of Queer Dance Freakout.
Brady Neher (he/they)
Brady Neher (he/they) is from Norwalk, Ohio and trained in gymnastics for seven years before starting his dance training. He then pursued his BFA in dance at Columbia College Chicago receiving experience in ballet, modern, jazz, West African, yoga, improvisation, choreographing, and teaching dance.
Natalie Young (she/her)
Company Improvisor & Choreographer
Natalie Young (she/her) grew up dancing in Metro Detroit, Michigan. Since the age of four, she’s aspired to work with others through dance. Training in a variety of styles and techniques to create her own unique experience through movement. From teaching to training, she aspires to break the barriers of the dance world down. She finds mental health, inclusivity, and queerness to be important subject matters to her. After shortly attending the dance program at Columbia College Chicago in 2017, she decided to return to Michigan to continue growing through dance. In search of more opportunities she came back to Chicago in 2020. Since her return, she’s taught classes and choreography across Chicago in studios and public schools.
Alyssa Simpson (she/her)
Alyssa (she/her) is a professional freelance artist and collaborator based in Chicago, IL. She is a native of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area and a recent Dance BFA and Journalism graduate from the University of Iowa. From a young age, she’s been interested in pursuing a career that incorporates both of her passions for dance and writing. She has been trained in numerous techniques such as Release technique, Limon, Horton, Cunningham, some Gaga, Cecchetti, improvisation, and various somatic practices. She has also produced visual storytelling works through video and screendance. In her performance and works, she uses narrative as a way to present embodiments of histories that have the capability to help us further understand who we are and why we are. She has performed works by Melinda Jean Myers, Tony Orrico, Stephanie Miracle, Brian Enos, Marc Macarnas, Jessie Factor, Jacob Henss, Consuming Kinetics Dance Company, and is currently working with Alluvion Dance Chicago as a performer and choreographer. She is thrilled to be joining We Are Collective!
Grace Czechowicz (she/her)
Company Member & Choreographer
Grace Czechowicz (she/her) is a freelance dance artist from Rockford, Illinois where she discovered her love for the craft at age fifteen. Since then, she has worked under the direction of Amy Wright of Bad Wolf Dance Company, Helen Simoneau of Helen Simoneau Danse Company, and under the mentorship of Sonja McCord of Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre and Dance Theatre of Harlem through the Sonja McCord Experience. She does not take any dance space for granted and considers this honorable opportunity with We Are Collective to be just the beginning of a lifelong journey of movement exploration and creation.
Reign Winker (they/he)
Company Member & Choreographer
Reign Winker (he/they) is an artist from Chicago, Illinois. They graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Dance and Digital Marketing. Reign is a choreographer and teaching artist sharing modern and contemporary dance techniques captivated by spreading awareness to physical sustainability, mind-body connection, and mental health in the dance community. Reign aims to show movement as care and healing in all choreographic and teaching practices--from movement to physical practice to communication. During their time at The Dance Center, they presented work at Student Performance Night, choreograph for an MFA Thesis film, and had the privilege of working under the absolutely beautiful teaching staff being mentored by Darrell Jones and Dardi McGinley. In the Chicago community, they have choreographed for New Dances 2020 under Thodos Dance Chicago & Chicago Dance Works, as well as other local company showcases, and the iconic Chicago drag queen, Shea Coulee’s "Rewind" music video.
Robyn Wilson (he/they)
Robyn Wilson (They/Them/He/Him) is a dance, visual, and performance artist who received their BFA from Columbia College Chicago in 2020. They have performed works by Paige Cunningham, Keyierra Collins, J’Sun Howard, Shannon Greyson, Elana Jacobs, and Pam McNeil, and was an apprentice performer with Ayodele Drum and Dance in 2018. They have trained in an array of styles from House and Footworking to Cunningham, Graham, and release technique with world renowned teachers such as Darrell Jones, Kelsa “K-Soul” Robinson, and Carrie Hanson. He also has done dramaturgy work for Kierah "Kiki" King in her recent residency at Links Hall. They were selected as a representative of Columbia College Chicago abroad with the college’s partnership with Le Centre De Nationale De Danse in Paris; they participated in Camping 2019 as an opening to the Between Gestures Festival in Chicago where they trained with François Chaignaud and Bryan Campbell. Robyn is beyond thrilled that he is getting the opportunity to work with We Are!
Nik LaMaack (he/him)
Nik (he/him) graduated with a degree Cum Laude in Dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2021. Nik has made many concert works for the stage, dance on film, music videos, & currently Choreographs at Dance Beat in Channahon, IL and performs as a company member of Perceptual Motion Inc in Chicago, IL. Nik strongly believes in the foundation of We Are Collective & wishes to develop a more inclusive, accessible, & opportunistic dance community.