NEW YORK CITY — On Sept. 24, Harlem Dance Festival features notable choreographers, one of whom is Camden’s own Kea Tesseyman. The festival will present to a live audience and livestream through Facebook at 6 p.m. at Richard Rogers Theater in Marcus Garvey Park.

Tesseyman, a long time choreographer and artistic director, was asked to present her choreography at Harlem Dance Festival after her most recent work was shared with a director in New York City, Yvonne-Marie Sain, the founder of the festival. “The collective grief we experienced as a world during the pandemic gave me permission to dive deeply into the choreography and story I was really inspired to create, but isn’t always something people want to talk about – healing from grief and trauma,” said Tesseyman.

After Tesseyman’s recent production, “The Discussion, Chapter 1,” which opened at the Camden Opera House this past April, her work continued to evolve and became noticed by a larger audience. Tesseyman feels something really special was created and is “very excited to be able to share an excerpt from the show in New York City. I think we need to talk about the hard stuff and get it out of our bodies so it doesn’t form and mold itself around the parts of us that need to heal. Feeling like we are alone in our pain can sometimes prevent us from having the courage to face it and grow through it. The more people we can get this message out to, the better.”

Tesseyman’s choreography is fueled by personal experiences and the goal to empower others through dance, be it in the studio or on stage. Over her nearly two decades of teaching and choreographing in the Midcoast area, she’s grateful to have the opportunity to live a life of expression and creativity through dance that can speak to the collective world struggles while manifesting her own healing through the work that is meant to help others. She said, “I had to follow what was right for me when I started creating this piece, it wasn’t just for the sole purpose of my own healing, but the purpose that somewhere out there was at least one person who needed to see this work in order to identify, feel seen and acknowledged, and be able to dive into their own healing because of it.” Tesseyman said, “It has transformed into something greater than I could have imagined since we started reworking it over the summer and preparing it for HDF. This piece is created from a desire to communicate authentic and honest art, which is pivotal when taking something that can seem ugly and imperfect and evolving it into beautiful and inspiring.”

Kea Tesseyman Dance Company is comprised of five performers: students Leanna Cotton, Adrian Pierce (Tesseyman’s son) and Samantha Leonard of Camden, and performer Heidi Vonunger from New York City.

About the piece to be presented at Harlem Dance Festival: “‘With These Hands’ is about acknowledging the collective grief and trauma we are all experiencing as one, and are in deep need of healing from. May we all become accountable of ourselves in order to reverse the damage done against our fellow humans and our earth, with our own hands.”

Harlem Dance Festival was created by Yvonne-Marie Sain, who is a dancer, choreographer and dance teacher from New York City. “Harlem Dance Festival is a choreography showcase for artists of all genres, to bring dance to the Harlem Community. There are so many amazing stages and theaters throughout Harlem and I think it’s important to not only create great work for our community to enjoy, but also to bring artists and lovers of dance to some of these incredible spaces and historic stages,” she said. “I’m so proud to live here and I love that I get to do something within my community that honors the history and the culture of Harlem.” Sain goes on to say, “I am excited to have Kea and the company perform because not only do I love the work I’ve seen, but it’s exciting for me to have artists come from different places to be part of this festival! A new voice, and someone who many people in our community haven’t seen, and it opens doors for everyone.”

Ryan Daniel Beck, a producer, choreographer and teacher, said, “Unfortunately, because of reality television, many people only perceive dance as a form of competition. But dance has been a form of communication and storytelling for thousands of years through human history. Kea is a master storyteller, who uses movement and dance to bring a uniquely personal perspective, flavored by her experiences in Maine, creating a rich tapestry of culture, poetry and dialogue we are proud to present at HDF.”

Tesseyman said, “I’m proud to represent the great state of Maine at this New York Dance Festival, and to show that our amazing community of Camden supports and encourages artists like myself. The support from my community means everything to me and I wouldn’t be able to go out into the world to share my choreography like this if I didn’t have such an incredible home to live in, a place to cultivate my work and to grow as an artist.” She said, “Through movement I’m able to shine a light on the empowerment and inspiration that can come from owning your truth and diving deep into the work people often shy away from. It’s not always easy, but through it we can pay forward that courage and bravery someone else needs to see in order to believe they’re not alone, there is a way and they too are worthy of freedom and love. And yes, we are still talking about dance, but it’s truly so much more…it’s the ultimate communication of love and acceptance, and through accepting ourselves, scars and imperfections and all, we can show so many kids, teens and adults, that they are worthy of acceptance and love too. So that’s the business I’m in, I just get to dance through it.”

For more information on Harlem Dance Festival, check out the Instagram page @HarlemDanceFestival or contact Kea Tesseyman at

Follow Kea Tesseyman Dance Company and the journey to perform in NYC on Instagram @KeaTesseyman or on Facebook.