SDW scouted for RAW: natural born artists

ShaLeigh Dance Works was honored to have been scouted for RAW: natural born artists. The one night event featured 50+ hand-selected emerging artists across fashion, music, visual art, photography, performing art, hair, makeup and accessory design, for a one night creative explosion! Guests wandered through pop-up interactive art galleries and experienced  incredible live performances and runway shows.

We had loads of fun creating a new adaptation of E Pluribus Unum II with a Downton Abbey twist and runway show both inspired by our last company photo shoot with Robin Gallant. We are eager to share this version again and expect a new project brewing on the horizon with Durham’s own DJ Playplay.

RAW believes that we are stronger together than we are apart. By joining together we can do more to share the creative culture of our generation. RAW thinks that every independent artist deserves the right to be seen, heard and loved.

Head to to see the full lineup of the incredible local artists we joined!

Our 2017-18 Season Finale: E Pluribus Unum II

ShaLeigh Dance Works’ E Pluribus Unum II
Our World Premiere collaboration with Elizabeth Corbett & Alejandro Santoyo

We closed our 3rd season in NC this past weekend with a World Premiere at the Durham Arts Council’s PSI Theatre!  We were absolutely honored to receive a standing ovation and a sold out show!

This work was inspired by collaboration and interpretation of the emotive architecture rooted in William Forsythe’s Improvisation Technologies and was our first collaborative project with acclaimed soloist, international guest artist and former Forsythe dancer Elizabeth Corbett.  The work also built from my nine year relationship with Elizabeth as my teacher, choreographer and mentor. Our work throughout the years has ultimately taken the form of collaboration by utilizing the nine point system developed by William Forsythe as a way of engendering movement through a specific set of directional tasks.

Over loads of dinners and coffee conversations last summer, we acknowledged how much we have learned from each other and after years of studying and performing under her, we have grown into a rich friendship with a keen interest in each others creative process. Ultimately we decided to create our own separate works in different locations from a singular script that Elizabeth would develop based on the Laban cube. I was excited by the challenge of working in this new way with my dancers and by honing in on the emotive potential of architectural thinking. I’m certain that this is just the beginning of many more collaborative projects we will do together. The title of the work implies the oneness out of many as a response to both the polarization we have felt as a nation as well as how the courageous process of creation unites us.

We were also joined by international composer and pianist Alejandro Santoyo who performed an original score for the work. Alejandro performed live while utilizing the composition developed from the movement’s organizational principles to allow for moments of improvisation. Working collaboratively, the three of us enjoyed challenging the traditional distinction between choreographer, composer and dancer, and using this methodology to question hierarchy, authorship and disciplinary boundaries.

We were also honored to be joined by Jessica Hulick of Moms Demand Action and Pastor Cornelius Battle of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church who gave a short appeal following the show to continue our efforts from Durham’s March for Our Lives and further the conversation on gun violence prevention.

Photos courtesy of Ryan Pham.  Interview courtesy of Argyle Rebel Films. This premiere was made possible in part by the generous support of the Durham Arts Council’s Facility Grant. For more information, please visit

Shaga at Moogfest2018!

Check out Company Member Hannah Marr rocking out at our Workshop! We love this shot taken by Stephanie Leathers.

We were absolutely honored to have been invited to offer Shaga at Moogfest 2018! Our SOLD OUT workshop took place Friday, May 18th, at 6pm at Global Breath. New and old participants alike agreed it was our best one yet! Several artists reached out to us post festival to let us know they were already planning to be back next year! We are already getting excited! The clock is ticking on their 2019 Super Early Bird price for 2018 attendees! You can get your tickets here: MoogFest2019

We offered two hours of guided movement and dance set to a unique soundtrack. It was incredible to share our movement language and playlist with other artists, futurists, inventors, entrepreneurs, and scientists! You can find our Moogfest listing here: Shaga at Moogfest 2018

Since 2004, Moogfest has been a forum for the exchange of ideas. By day, Moogfest is a platform for conversation and experimentation, attracting creative and tech enthusiasts for four days of participatory programming in Durham, North Carolina. By night, Moogfest presents cutting-edge performances by early pioneers in electronic music, contemporary pop innovators, and avant-garde experimentalists in venues throughout the city.

Moogfest is a tribute to analog synthesizer pioneer Dr. Robert Moog and the profound influence his inventions have had on how we hear the world over the last 60 years. The exchange between engineer and musician that he fostered is celebrated with a unique festival format where the creative process is understood as collaboration among many people, across time and space, in commerce and culture.

For more information about this incredible festival, please visit:

Using the Power of Art to Unite and Strengthen Community


ShaLeigh Dance Works performed this past Saturday, April 21st, at the Intersection Stage at Plaza Midwood.

We were honored to perform in this year’s Charlotte’s BOOM Festival, an annual artist-led showcase of contemporary and experimental performance and visual art created on the fringes of popular culture. The event was three days long, but the spirit behind it is more than a weekend experience. BOOM is a movement, born from a belief in the explosive power of art to unite and strengthen our community. Their mission is to spark creativity and collaboration among a diverse group of artists, performers and audiences. To deliver on that mission, they have gathered a unique coalition of artists, volunteers, nonprofits, businesses and neighborhood organizations who come together to transform the way art and culture are created and shared in the Queen City.

For more information, please visit:


ShaLeigh Dance Works also performed this past Monday, April 23rd at DPAC.

We were absolutely honored to perform with Janie Desmond and Micaiah Okonkwo for Reality Ministries’ 2018 Talent Show at DPAC! This extraordinary community event featured performers of ALL abilities and moved us to our core! The talent show is an annual evening that highlights the wonderful talents and unique gifts of our diverse community. Incredible artwork was on display in the lobby and the stage shined with a wonderful variety of numerous performances spanning the full spectrum of performing arts. Reality Ministries creates wonderful opportunities for adults with and without developmental disabilities to experience belonging, kinship and the life-changing Reality of Christ’s love.

To learn more and get involved, please visit: Reality Ministries

Invocations at NCMA

On Saturday, April 7th, ShaLeigh Dance Works was honored to create a movement installation in the East Building for the Sold Out Opening of North Carolina’s Museum of Art’s You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences.

The movement installation, entitled “Invocations,” invited community members to move through a score of spatial patterns with light and sound emanating from their cell phones. They activated the entry way with traveling light and sound to stir the senses of the viewers in preparation for this spectacularly immersive art work. SDW Company members were placed throughout the gallery to perform a series of solos, duets and ensemble work created from scores that activated their delicate sensuality through smell, taste, touch, sight and sound.  Check out our video above, courtesy of Argyle Rebel Films.

The exhibit will continue to run through July 22nd and features immersive art installations by 15 contemporary artists, including large-scale light works, sound installations, video works, mixed-media room-size environments, and site-specific projects. The artists in this exhibition employ a diversity of media to create intriguing experiences that engage the senses, activate the imagination, and provide connections between the viewer and the work of art. This exhibition takes over an entire floor of the NCMA’s temporary exhibition galleries and also transforms the landscape in the Museum Park, creating a campus-wide presentation of contemporary experiential art.

Become part of the art. You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences, is open through July 22, 2018.

Plan your visit here:

We Danced and Marched for Our Lives

On March 24th, I led the Durham March for Our Lives at CCB Plaza to stand in solidarity with the movement to end gun violence in our schools and in our communities. Little did I know that my effort to create a platform for the Durham community would gather 2000 residents. It was a day I will never forget and I could not have done it without my brother, Bryan Wright and my husband, Shannon Fairbanks. We hosted nineteen speakers including students, Senators, Congressmen, Commissioners, and community service organizations. We were joined by 43 volunteers and helped us register dozens of new voters. You can read more about our rally here: The Herald Sun

Before I received permission to host the March, I had been planning a Dance for Our Lives Flash Mob. Over 50 community members joined together in the cold rain several hours after the March to reactivate the CCB Plaza once again and this time with  dance.  Witnessing everyone moving together as one created a powerful image of togetherness and interconnectedness.  It seemed to enhance the visibility of taking a communal approach to life’s challenges and relating to each other across cultural and ethnic differences.  It seemed to also pay tribute to early tribal cultures where dance as ritual was used to grieve, to celebrate and to problem solve together. In essence, it echoed what had happened earlier that day: People coming together as individuals across the spectrum of age and race to share the tears and rage and passion that creates change.  Thousands of us found our common ground in the roots of our exposed humanity. And from there, we will March on and we will remember just how important it is to move from grief to action.

Ways to stay involved:

North Carolinians Against Gun Violence

Moms Demand Action


North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Action NC

Thanks to Ryan Pham for the commemorative video of Durham March for Our Lives and to Michael Washington at Argyle Rebel Films for the video of Dance for Our Lives. And a sincere thank you to all of you who came out in support!


SDW at Parliament

ShaLeigh Dance Works was honored to contribute to this community project by Michael Kliën of Duke’s Dance Program. About 100 participants stepped into this work of art to discover space to breathe, freedom from screens, a return to their bodies, and a retreat into strangeness. Groups gathered in the gallery for four days, six to 10 hours per day. Kliën previously presented versions of PARLIAMENT in Amsterdam, Greece, Brussels, London and New York.

“Since his early 20’s Kliën has been engaged in fundamentally deconstructing our civilization’s assumptions on choreography, dance and culture. He set out to redevelop choreography as an autonomous artistic discipline concerned with the workings and governance of patterns, dynamics and ecologies. In response to the urgency of our contemporary ecological situation, this new conception of choreography engages its social potential to pursue sustainable orders of human relations (Social Choreography). Choreography—as an Aesthetics of Change—assumes the creative practice of setting relations, or setting the conditions for new relations to emerge.” More information here

“The way our culture has choreographed dance has always been reflective of the larger tendencies of how we, as a society, deal with the unknown, the unframable, the foreign, the spiritual and the animal. (…) Our premise must not be to constrain movement into a set pattern, but rather to provide a cradle for movement to find its own patterns—over and over again.” – Book of Recommendations

The Nasher Museum presented PARLIAMENT at Duke: A Pioneering Work of Situational Choreography and SDW was honored to join on its closing day, Saturday, March 10th, from 10am to 5pm at Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Building foundations, building future

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank


We are entering the second half of our first full season. As I reflect on the journey we have taken, I am appreciating my core dancers and understanding the depths of how commitment allows for both transformation of work and self. When a single discovery such as this has boundless depth that echoes in its own reflections throughout the micro and macro aspects of life, a stronger foundation appears.

The arts have an incredible potential to empower us to become agents ourselves towards the healing and empowerment of others. Taking time to continually establish a foundation in favor of a platform that is dedicated to commitment, caring and collaboration has become an essential and ever-shifting learning process. As a culture, the human experience of emotion is marginalized and because of this, we are often unprepared for the emotions that arise in ourselves and others. However through movement, when we learn to welcome, allow, and give ourselves permission as a physical practice, we have an opportunity to re-establish this connection consciously. And through mentorship as a form of foundation building, we have the opportunity to ask questions that reveal the physicality of our hidden suffering and the complexities of our differences. This new foundation requires the unseen to become visible on both the individual and social levels.

I have often shared my belief that what we do in the studio affects our lives outside of it. This sentiment is expanding to a deeper understanding of the transformative power of giving a voice to the silent spaces within each of us. Something that stirred a great power site of transformation in the individuals I have worked with this past week was simply sitting in circles and asking questions after moving. The movement we shared then became a ritualistic way to reconnect with our emotions and personal mythologies while landing in our own bodies. It was the act of listening to others as well as expressing ourselves that created the relational experience. The interconnectedness seemed to redeem a sense of our body as a source of personal truth and then once shared through words, a source of cultural truth.

There is something to be said for building a tolerance to the truths that arise within ourselves, our relationships and our communities rather than changing them. The tolerance allows for the discovery of its alchemical potential. Nothing teaches this more than leadership. And I could not be more thrilled by the upcoming community projects that have arisen from this very discovery.


First NYC Tour since landing in NC

To the left you will see our dearest Hannah Nicole Marr concentrating deeply during our final rehearsal at Ripley Greer Studios moments before our showcase at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Booking Dance Festival. Beneath you will see Megan Rindoks and Anthony Otto Nelson Jr. rehearsing their duet. It was an incredible honor to bring these seven gorgeous movers to NYC and to perform for the first time in NYC since 2009.  It was a fast and furious trip this round, but we had an incredible experience.

We met up with our amazing photographer Zoe Litker for a shoot in Central Park at the iconic Naumburg Bandshell. And then shot a bit in the subway on our way to tech! The show itself was sold out and had a breathtaking vantage point of the city right behind the stage. We were honored to perform there and will be sharing those images captured from the show very soon.

But for now, we are back and are already in preparations for a rather full spring season! New show dates were just announced for a community project at the Nasher Museum of Art next month as well as a new movement installation at the North Carolina Museum of Art in April! We will return to NYC to perform at Dixon Place this May and present our first World Premiere collaboration at the PSI Theatre this June. We have a full plate and are feeling utterly blessed. We all benefited from a two week break upon our return from NYC, but it felt so incredibly good to come together again at last this past weekend.  Spring 2018, we are getting ready for you!