Our Stories – Meet Dance Artist Riley Watts

After nearly a decade on the road touring internationally with the Forsythe Company, dance artist Riley Wattsdecided it was time to come home to Maine.

For Riley, moving back to Maine was the right thing to do. It’s meant time and space: to heal, to pursue a different lifestyle for his body and mind and, eventually, to center his own artmaking.

A year of change brings Riley full circle from ensemble member to someone living and working in isolation – some forced by the pandemic, some by his wrestling with mental illness – to a new project. Absence highlighted the need to connect again with others. Enter Heather Stewart.


In this artist partnership, Riley has found in Heather not just a choreographer but a kindred artistic spirit. Slowly, deliberately and with their deeply considered collaboration grounding them – Riley and Heather’s new work artfully weaves the experience of an artist’s psyche with that of movement.

Dance is a social art, even in solo work – be it with artistic collaborators or the audience. Antidotes to depression include flow, movement and the connection to other humans, all of which are possible through dance. In this new work vulnerability and virtuosity are in a duet realized through Riley’s exquisite dancing.

During his storied career Riley has traveled the world, searching like so many do, for a place that resonates with him, a place to call home. And yet, it was always right here in Maine.

Welcome home, Riley. We are grateful you’re here.