Renay Aumiller, a slender woman with a 10 megawatt smile and a head full of ideas about bodies in motion, generously took an hour out of tech week to talk to me about her new work that her project-based company, Renay Aumiller Dances–RAD–will premiere tomorrow, June 5, at the Cordoba Center for the Arts (next to Golden Belt). BLOOD MOON will combine earthbound contemporary movement with aerial work. The 45-minute work “is not about spectacle at all,” Aumiller told me, contrasting it with the showiness of much aerial dance. “I wanted the aerial work to speak on something deeper.”
Many readers will remember Aumiller’s beautiful, emotionally charged, ensemble dance that was included in the 2014 American Dance Festival’s HERE AND NOW: NC Dances program. Acquiring Dawn investigated the inchoate in an orderly way; BLOOD MOON seems likely to swing out over the edge of the unknown rather differently.
Last summer, an old friend, long unseen–Aumiller had trained in his Raleigh studio as a girl–contacted her with the idea of their making an aerial performance. Andrew Munro, formerly a dancer, is now a rigger at Raleigh Memorial Auditorium, and has worked with circuses as well. They did a trial solo work last November at Burning Coal Theater (they like aerial adventures there–remember Henry V (on Trapeze)?) and it went well enough to encourage the development of a full-length work. Aumiller, who has just completed her first year as an assistant professor of dance of Elon University, was working with her students on a concept, which she was able to lift and merge with the technicalities of aerial dance.
“This piece is by far the biggest I’ve ever made,” she said. “And having to build our own theater…I’ve never gone through that before.” Yes, you read that correctly. Within the raw industrial space of the Cordoba Center for the Arts (and right next to Liberty Arts sculpture studio), RAD built a 100 seat theater, sprung floor and all.
Aumiller is a member of DIDA, the coalition of Durham Independent Dance Artists, and RAD’s performances this weekend will complete DIDA’s first season of works by local choreographers and dancers. “What’s so exciting about Durham right now is that there is enough work, and it is different enough,” Aumiller said. “And DIDA [huge smile]…I’ve lived a lot of places, but Durham by far is the most supportive for dancers.” If you want to help celebrate that, slip over to the Criterion, 347 W. Main, around 9:30 Saturday night for the DIDA season wrap party.
BLOOD MOON will be performed June 5-6 @ 8:00pm; June 7 @ 4pm, at the Cordoba Center for the Arts, 923 Franklin Street, Durham, NC 27701. See RAD’s Facebook event page for a map and ticket information.
Talking with Aumiller brought to mind an early song, “Defying Gravity,” by the late great Jesse Winchester.
I live on a big round ball
I never do dream I may fall
And even one day if I do
Well, I’ll jump off and smile back at you.
I don’t even know where we are
They tell you we’re circling a star
Well, I’ll take their word, I don’t know
But I’m dizzy so it may be so.
I’m riding a big round ball
I never do dream I may fall
And even the high must lay low
But when I do fall I’ll be glad to go
Yeah, when I do fall I’ll be glad to go.
Listen to that honey voice here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4b3jA2JvWw
So wonderful, Kate, as always. Jesse Winchester, just the thought of him, can bring tears to my eyes. Do you know his “No Pride At All”? I doubt anyone ever wrote an odder or more moving love song. I’m in New Orleans, having just put up the Lower 9th Ward Exhibit in Baton Rouge at the Arts Council. You’ve probably wondered if I really intended to publish the book. Well, you’ll hjear more about it soon. I’ve been biding my time, waiting for the public consciousness to find out that the 10th anniversary of Katrina – bleak anniversary – is arriving in August. No sense promoting the book as long as no one’s paying attention to the Lower 9th. There are 4 blurbs on the back of the book, and you’re one of them. Don’t sue me. You said it was OKAY!! Keep it going, Kate.
John! So glad to hear those amazing photographs are being seen again in Louisiana. Look forward to the book. And so happy that someone else feels like that about Jesse. I actually sobbed when I heard he died. Yes, I know that song. So many great ones. I wrote to him once and asked him to put his early albums on CDs but he was moving forward, not back. Did you hear him at the Cradle, c.1984? Back in the USA after the amnesty, touring tiny bars and pouring out poetry in that wonderful voice. xox