Heartland Collective

Directed By Molly Heller, Heartland Is A Multi-disciplinary Collective With Collaborations In Dance, Visual Arts, And Music.




The collective originated as a method of survival – a way to re-locate myself in the world after a sudden and traumatic divorce. The jarring nature of the ending of my marriage dismantled every aspect of my life, and the pain felt like a thick tar that I couldn’t wipe off. It was my apocalypse. After re-surfacing from the depths of grief, I began going to crowded dance clubs where I would disappear into exhaustion. Surrounded by strangers in these intimate, unassuming spaces, I was able to process my emotions through movement. I felt BIG. I belonged in my own skin again and my heart was whole.


This vibrancy led me to research the idioms, sensations, and physical spaces of the heart. Drawing on the metaphorical language of the heart for inspiration (i.e. heartbreak, heavy heart, affair of the heart, heart of gold, etc.), a physicality developed which emphasized the density of my body, forces of resistance, and my attempt to accept non-resolution. I wanted this language of the body to return to a club-like environment where experiences are co-created and the relational nature of music and dance is equalized. Heartland was born from my desire to cultivate connection alongside others through movement.

Marissa Mooney

In this work, I have collaborated with five dancers and a music composer to design dance parties based around curated, themed performances (Valentines Day, Woodland Creatures, and Cosmos). These performances open each evening, merging into a dance party where audience members become participants and performers, moving and grooving through their experiences.

Our work has been presented nationally by atypical performance venues whose limitations invite creativity, adaptability, and challenge the desire to perfect.

The Heartland Collective is a way of changing dance cultures. It is a mutable, love-centered approach to art making, where the evolution and well-being of individuals are nurtured, rather than exploited or diminished.

It is also an integrated approach to living life and healing – a dynamic continuum of growth where there is no arrival or fixed point. I am invested in people and the relationships that develop through patience, hard work (showing up together consistently), risk, and vulnerability.

As a director, I am dedicated to working within a non-hierarchical model, where leadership and creative autonomy are distributed. This moveable exchange IS movement and a way of leaning INTO life.


Heartland began as an antidote to my personal pain and it continues to be a platform to cope with change. But over time and by being transparent about this life-changing event, it has given other people permission to untangle their complex emotions. The space Heartland curates is not an escape from reality. Rather, it becomes a mirror to examine the inter-workings and intra-workings of our hearts and to celebrate how courageous this is. We don’t often choose our endings in life, but Heartland gathers people together to practice curating beginnings.



The Heartland Collective is designing more performance/dance parties for the upcoming year that will tour nationally, including a geographically specific tour to Nebraska, a Heartland state where I was born. We will also premiere our evening-length work, Cosmos, in fall 2020. Future goals for the collective: investing in a multi-disciplinary space for Heartland performances, workshops, and artist housing.

Centralized in Salt Lake City, UT | Founder and Director: Molly Heller
The Heartlanders: Florian Alberge, Nick Blaylock, Brian Gerke, Marissa Mooney, Melissa Younker Music Composition: Michael Wall, Nick Foster


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