Dancing on the barricades in HOME: the metamorphosis

The metamorphosis of my immediate downtown neighborhood absorbs my attention daily, so I was glad to see an artist and her collaborators take up the subject. Stephanie LeathersHOME: the metamorphosis, which repeats once more tonight, Nov. 12, begins to look at the new developments and alteration of old buildings that is currently changing Durham overnight, night after night, and how this landscape in flux affects our bodies and the ways we move through the environment.

ally-lloyd-and-myra-weise-photo-by-chris-cherry

Ally Lloyd, front, and Myra Weise climb the fence in an earlier, Sunday SITES, dance exploration. Photo: Chris Cherry.

Leathers built this multi-media, multi-location performance work with movement culled from her Sunday SITES series of exploratory dances in places in flux (construction zones) in and near downtown Durham, and from video made during those, along with still photographs she has made around downtown, accompanied by typed poetic fragments by Chris Vitiello. Leathers is joined in her peripetic program by three other female dancers: Alison Lloyd, Kristin Taylor (particularly nice to watch) and Sydney Vigotov, and they are all joined at the final location by musician Jonathan Hunter-Watts Le Sueur.

The program begins at the new Empowerment Dance Studio at 109 W. Parrish (next to Loaf), where you can buy your ticket, and where the photographs are hung. The dancers will appear around 6:30 to lead you outside, for a movement section along the construction fence and the orange and white barricades. This was, to me, the most successful segment of the piece, because it occurs in a disorderly constricted space, with oncoming traffic inches from the dancers, while the roar and light and dirt of the rising 27-story tower continue behind them.

From there, the dance parade makes a couple of stops before reaching its final destination, the old Fishmongers at 806 W. Main, which is currently in a pleasing state of deshabille. Almost everything has been ripped out, the ceiling is down, the back is open to the front–but the black and white tile floor remains to support the building’s next identity.

kristin-taylor-by-stephanie-leathers

Kristin Taylor dancing in the old Fishmongers space. Looks different at night. Photo: Stephanie Leathers.

RAD Gets Defiant This Weekend with BLOOD MOON

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.”

Stacy Wolfson defying gravity in preparation for RAD's BLOOD MOON. Photo: Stephanie Leathers.

Stacy Wolfson defying gravity in preparation for BLOOD MOON. Photo: Stephanie Leathers.

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

Tonight in the Reality Ministries Ballroom: ShaLeigh Dance Works’ new ALÓ

Last night saw the premiere of ALÓ, a 40 minute dance-theater work by ShaLeigh Comerford in collaboration with the dancers of ShaLeigh Dance Works, as the first season of locally-made dance put together by Durham Independent Dance Artists continues. Along with the excited buzz that always precedes the first appearance of any art work, there was a warm, happy, community feeling in the room, with many of the DIDA artists present, along with generous supporters like Bepi Pinner and Boleyn Willis-Zeger, whose Ninth Street Dance and Legacy Studios, respectively, are so important to Durham’s burgeoning dance scene.

ALÓ will repeat tonight at 8 pm in the ballroom of the Reality Center, corner of Lamond and Gregson. Very unusually, this is a pay-what-you-will performance. Having enjoyed the dance last night, I can tell you it is worth a donation. Strong concept, some memorable images, lots of lovely dancing.

Sorry I don’t have a photo, but you can read my CVNC review here.

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