As part of The American Dance Festivals’ 89th Season, ShaLeigh Dance Works proudly presented enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight – an immersive performance that does not require a viewer’s vision

A chiaroscuro image of four dancers gently embracing a blindfolded woman with their hands and heads lightly resting on her. Photo by Slater Mapp.
Photo by Slater Mapp

On June 3-5, 2022, ShaLeigh Dance Works premiered enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight to live audiences opening the 89th American Dance Festival’s Season with five sold-out performances at The Fruit in Durham, North Carolina. The performance was an immersive interdisciplinary performance that did not solicit the viewer’s sight but rather all their other senses. Specifically conceived with and for individuals who are low-vision and blind, the work proposed a new sensorial experience of dance and theater. The work was presented to a live audience who chose to experience the show blindfolded and invited six audience members to join the experience onstage.

The work brought together a team of collaborators around a single challenge: to tell a story through dance and theater beyond their visual dimension. The forty-five minute work was forged by the elaboration of new atmospheres over a specific journey that tells a collective story through textures, movements, sounds, music, scents, storytelling, and audience participation. Participatory audience members who were sighted wore a cover on their eyes as they entered the work from the beginning to the end of the performance allowing both sighted and unsighted people to share the experience.

Chatham Life & Style called it “a new evolution in dance.” IndyWeek praised it as “astounding” and a “bold, immersive performance.” CVNC described it as “a sensational and poetically eye-opening performance,” and Beltline to Broadway chronicled it as “a new sensorial way to experience dance and theater.”

As part of SOFE 2023 Arts Access Inc. presents SDW’s Beyond Sight: The Making of enVISION

Image Description: A green flyer with a ticket real with the text “SOFE 2023 Film Screening July 15th North Carolina Musume of Art July 15th 2023 2:00pm to 4:00pm Beyond Sight: The Making of enVision Film screen followed by panel discussion and resource fair. Tickets $10 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

2-4PM 

North Carolina Museum of Art, 2110 Blue Ridge Rd, Raleigh, NC 27607

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS

We invite you to join Arts Access Inc as they present a screening of SDW’s Beyond Sight: The Making of enVision on July 15th. The documentary screening will be followed by an artist chat-back featuring ShaLeigh Comerford, Michael Washington and DJ Robinson. ASL, captions and audio description will be provided at this event.

Last summer ShaLeigh Dance Works premiered enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight to live audiences opening the 89th American Dance Festival’s Season with five sold-out performances at The Fruit in Durham, North Carolina. Talented videographer Palani Mohan captured the show with high-quality multi camera shots of the live performance. While creating this collaborative dance-theatre work, filmmaker Michael Washington of Argyle Rebel Films added another layer of collaboration: he documented the process. 

NCDF presents SDW at Goodyear Arts in Charlotte

OCT 6-7, 2023 | 7:30PM

NCDF AT GOODYEAR

GOODYEAR ARTS, CHARLOTTE

Information about the Performance

4 professional NC choreographers presented new or recent dance works at Goodyear Arts in Charlotte. 

ShaLeigh Dance Works (Durham) shared an excerpt from “enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight” as an immersive, interdisciplinary performance that proposes a new experience of dance and theater that engages senses beyond the visual. 

“Halidom,” by Joy Davis and Eric Mullis (Charlotte), was a duet created in Tokyo and Kyoto in 2019. Together, they engaged in conversation between the artists’ movement vernaculars and Japanese Butoh. 

In Lee Edwards’ (Durham) “reclamation: processing (through) lament,” the dancers explore the “now” and the waves of the past which we are constantly reckoning with, asking how rest, play, and joy exist alongside the chaos of our present moment. 

Carol Finley and Courtney White (Raleigh) presented “Misfortunes,” a collaborative duet on stationary bikes that employs humor to challenge competition culture in group fitness environments and consider the randomness of what comes our way.

An artist talk-back followed the performance.This performance is sponsored by Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s Performing Arts Medicine Clinic, and Stability Engineering, with additional support from the NC Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

SDW proudly presented the Audio Described Virtual Premieres of Beyond Sight: The Making of enVISION & enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight

A smiling, blindfolded man stands on a pile of leaves and looks up with arms reaching out while surrounded by a group of performers, bubbles, and wind chimes.

Previously, ShaLeigh Dance Works premiered enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight to live audiences opening the 89th American Dance Festival’s Season with five sold-out performances at The Fruit in Durham, North Carolina. Talented videographer Palani Mohan captured the show with high-quality multi camera shoots of the live performance. While creating this collaborative dance-theatre work, filmmaker Michael Washington of Argyle Rebel Films added another layer of collaboration: he documented the process. 

We invited viewers to join us both onstage and behind the scenes through this double premiere with audio description by Jan Too, to take a closer look at what went into its making and to experience the virtual premiere of enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight.

“Audio description is not only a service designed to help blind and visually impaired audiences gain deeper insights, but it creates a full immersive experience. Audio description also helps persons with vision as a powerful message: it transcends social & cultural norms of what it deems important while revealing the information that actually levels the playing field.” – Co-Director Davian Robinson

Jan Tu is a describer of choice for audio description training. She strives for accuracy and evocativeness and is an advocate for removing barriers to all art forms whether visual, tactile, aural, or kinetic. When asked why audio description is also important for sighted audiences, she shared,“If the general public is not aware of the disconnect – not aware that not everyone can participate equally – they will not make space [time, even if only seconds] for audio designers like me to fill in the gaps.”  – Audio Describer Jan Tu

Chatham Life & Style called it “a new evolution in dance.” IndyWeek praised it as “astounding” and a “bold, immersive performance.” CVNC described it as “a sensational and poetically eye-opening performance,” and Beltline to Broadway chronicled it as “a new sensorial way to experience dance and theater.”

We were thrilled to premiere the audio described documentary and performance virtually. 

The Virtual Premiere of enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight, filmed by Palani Mohan with audio description by Jan Too, was an immersive interdisciplinary performance that does not solicit the viewer’s sight but rather all their other senses. Specifically conceived with and for individuals who are low-vision and blind, the work proposed a new sensorial experience of dance and theater. The work was presented to a live audience who could choose to experience the show blindfolded and invited six audience members to join the experience onstage. It premiered Friday, June 9th at 5pm

The Virtual Premiere of Beyond Sight: The Making of enVISION, a Michael I. Washington Film  audio described by Jan Too was premiered on Friday, June 9th at 5pm. Michael Washington, the Filmaker, described it as “a one of a kind documentary that showcased the creative process behind ShaLeigh Dance Works’ newest masterwork. Told by the artists themselves, ‘Beyond Sight’ was an unflinching look at what it takes to push boundaries and change the landscape of live performance forever.”

We were so excited to host Pioneer Winter for a collaborative movement workshop this May!

Each year, renowned and emerging choreographers are invited to spend time with the company for a period of creative collaboration in a mentoring relationship. In May 2023, SDW was honored to welcome Miami-based choreographer and artistic director of Pioneer Winter Collective, Pioneer Winter! We had an amazing two days flowing through sensing movement beyond sight together at Davis Dance Company’s studio in Durham, NC. The studio was filled with poetry, inspiration, and togetherness as the artists explored language as a way to create visceral environments, and researched sonic perception and vanishing points. Time was spent connecting with the poetry of Arsimmer McCoy, who developed their work for  Pioneer Winter Collective’s Birds of Paradise. Lingering discoveries we can’t wait to continue diving into include transformational moments of shared language and shared labor: “I’m here for you.” and “For me?”.

Pioneer said that “notions of vulnerability, trust, and collective were embodied and emboldened with curiosity and such love and respect” as he reflected on the experience. 

We wanted to express such love and respect for the SDW family for coming together as fierce explorers of these new terrains. Thank you to: Pioneer Winter, DJ Robinson, Hannah Marr, Jessi Wooten, Lilly King, Kate Gupton, Brice Smith, Ciara Coleman, Hillary Ensminger, Janie Desmond.

We were honored to perform at Durham Lions Club!

A man and a woman dressed in all black stand at the center of the image with their foreheads touching and arms embracing one another.

We were honored to perform for The Durham Lions Club to celebrate the 101’st anniversary of their charter. As a part of this celebration, ShaLeigh Comerford & DJ Robinson created a duet form of enVISION’s opening, which received a standing ovation. 

Founded in 1951, the Durham Lions Club is Durham’s oldest civic service club, where Helen Keller visited and asked them to become allies. They have continued their efforts to combat blindness and other site-related issues ever since and were established as the knights of the blind by Helen Keller.

ROOTS Weekend May 19 – 21, 2022

Image Description: A community of dancers in various poses, with ShaLeigh in the middle with her arms reaching to the left. Photo by Caroline Cockrell.

ShaLeigh was thrilled to share a ShaGa workshop with alternateROOTS on Saturday, May 19th  in Whitakers, NC to sink into connection and community through movement with fellow ROOTers! She was honored to serve on the upROOTING Ablism Workgroup with an incredible group of humans.

Alternate ROOTS is an organization based in the Southern USA* whose mission is to support the creation and presentation of original art, in all its forms, which is rooted in a particular community of place, tradition or spirit. As a coalition of cultural workers, ROOTS strives to be allies in the elimination of all forms of oppression. ROOTS is committed to social and economic justice and the protection of the natural world and addresses these concerns through its programs and services.

NC-based ROOTer, and SDW’s Artistic Director ShaLeigh Comerford collaborated to create a workshop on ShaGa: a living movement practice of self-discovery, healing, and awakening to our deeper resources. ShaLeigh’s work focused on disrupting the oppression and subjugation of people with disabilities through advancing artistic practices that center access as an aesthetic and promote cultural understanding. ShaLeigh and fellow ROOTers accepted the invitation to sink into connection and community through movement in an open and welcoming atmosphere.

We Welcomed Ciara, Our Newest Apprentice!

Image Description: A Black female with brown eyes is smiling in front of stairs wearing a white turtleneck with a gold chain around the neck with a black vest over top along with a black brim hat and gold hoop earrings.

Ciara Coleman is from Durham NC and began dancing at Dance Theatre South when she was 6 years old. Over the years, she took classes at Ninth Street Dance and minored in dance at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. During her dance journey, Ciara had the opportunity to learn and explore various dance styles such as Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Contemporary, Tap, Hip Hop, and Clogging. Ciara utilized dance as a way to recenter herself and as a reminder of how beautiful life can be. She was so excited to have the opportunity to learn and grow with Shaleigh Dance Works.

“I admire how the company uses its platform to empower others and bring awareness to marginalized communities, which is why ‘Be the beacon of light in someone’s darkness’ by Abraham Maslow is a quote that touches on my excitement.”-Ciara Coleman

We Welcomed Runa King to the SDW team!

Image description:  A white female with brown hair and blue eyes is smiling before a white background. She is wearing a magenta turtleneck with a cameo necklace.

Runa graduated from Washington and Lee University in 2021 with a double major in geology and politics, and a minor in dance. While at W&L, she presented work at the Center for Movement Research, Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, and Lenfest Center for the Arts in addition to interning with the Joffrey Ballet School. Following graduation, she worked at Moondance Adventures planning and guiding wilderness-based trips across the United States. Having collaborated with members of Shaleigh Dance Works and studied with Shaleigh Comerford at Washington and Lee, Runa was thrilled to join the team as SDW’s Executive Assistant.

“I am incredibly excited by the work SDW is doing to make dance a more inclusive and accessible artform. I look forward to the opportunity to be a part of this community and support these amazing dancers through an administrative role!” -Runa King

The National Women’s Theatre Festival presented an excerpt of enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight

Graphic reading: The 7th Annual National Women's Theatre Festival
July 28-31, 2022
Join in-person or virtually

On July 28, 2022, an excerpt of enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight was presented at The National Women’s Theatre’s annual Festival in Raleigh, NC. This festival has been the nation’s largest symposium on gender in theatre and has provided a platform for amplifying & celebrating the contributions of women, non-binary, TGNC, and other under-represented gender artists in the field. 

ShaLeigh Dance Works presented a 20-minute excerpt of enVISION: Sensory Beyond Sight at Festival 22. The live audience chose to experience the work with or without a cover over their eyes. Four audience members were invited to join the experience onstage and two seated audience members received a more immersive experience.Those six invited audience members were taken through a consent-focused orientation process that Festival 22 attendees were able to observe at the top of the show followed by the performance excerpt.

After the performance, ShaLeigh Dance Works broke down the creation process and answered audience questions!

We were excited to present our work both in person at Frank Thompson Hall on the North Carolina State University and virtually as a part of The National Women’s Theatre’s annual Festival.

ShaLeigh Dance Works joined Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre for Devotion

Shirtless man with a disco ball over his head. Photo by Chris Walt

The third in a trilogy following Carne Viva (2016) and Make Believe (2018), Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre continued its investigation of religious iconography to explore themes of love and romance with the ADF-commissioned world premiere of Devotion (2022). Shaleigh Dance Works collaborated with Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre for this premiere at Reynolds Industries Theatre at Duke University on June 2-5 and June 16-17,  2022.