Sold Out Gala!

Video by Ernesto Javier Photography

Revolutionaries in the Dark

On December 7th, we gathered at Reality Ballroom for our 2nd annual Revolutionaries in the Dark Gala. We were honored by the number of supporters that joined us and are excited to share that our event sold out! The gala has grown by leaps and bounds this year. We can only imagine how much stronger the next will be! And we already have an incredible start with our amazing Project Manager, Kayla Oelhafen and an incredible team of volunteers! I could not have done this without them and we certainly could not have done it without you! Thank you to all who attended, donated, cheered, reminded me to breath, spread the word and showed up! We have big plans in store for next year, so stay tuned!

Packed Gala


WHAT: ShaLeigh Dance Works’ 2nd Annual “Revolutionaries in the Dark” Gala.

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday (Dec. 7).

WHERE: Reality Ballroom, 916 Lamond Ave., Durham, NC.

FEATURES: Guest speakers, performers, raffle, wine tastings, hors d’oeuvres and artist after-party.




ShaLeigh Dance Works’ artistic director ShaLeigh Comerford recently offered a glimpse of what’s in store for Gala-goers.

“Internationally acclaimed pianist Alejandro Santoyo is one of the performers,” Comerford said in an email interview.

“His unique approach to music is intended to bring serenity and harmony to his listeners …and [he] rather intentionally designs experiences to soothe souls,” the artistic director added.

Comerford also named Nina Be as the Gala’s honorary guest speaker.

“Nina has been teaching, choreographing and designing wellness programs internationally for over 40 years,” Comerford said. “She is the founder of Live Globally, a non-profit that focuses on education, sustainability and art.”

Working with other like-minded organizations, “Live Globally,” currently supports communities in Nairobi, Kenya and Costa Rica as well as in North Carolina. In Durham, they have developed a mindfulness yoga program to empower individuals and children through movement, fitness, self-expression and creative writing, Comerford added.

When asked about the title of this year’s gala fundraiser, Comerford replied: “We want to celebrate artists that are literally shining a light in dark places by challenging many of society’s deepest assumptions. We are deeply inspired by those providing a voice for others who may not have another way to be heard.”

Her company’s mission includes creating socially conscious work and Comerford employs a unique way to help performers do just that. “We do something called “Shaga,” which is a blend of [Israeli choreographer] Ohad Naharin’s movement language called Gaga and my Empowerment of Identity research,” she said. This training enables dancers to expand their movement potential in order to perform Comerford’s work that demands a versatile and open body and mind, she added.

This is the second year that Comerford’s company has featured consistent membership – as opposed to a pick-cup company in which performers are not always the same.

Company members do not currently receive a salary but are paid performance honorariums, Comerford said.

“They are also donating 11 hours a week to train and rehearse,” she added. “This is such an incredible testament to their commitment … but is not one bit a reflection of their value. This why our Gala and campaign efforts are so deeply important to me. Culturally, we have somehow settled on a gig-economy. This is such a sad social construction for undervaluing artists and just another reason why becoming a pick-up company would essentially give in to supporting this entertainment-only ideology. We do our deepest work off the stage and this is what I want to support.”

SDW Loves Proxemic Media

Proxemic Media 

Proxemic Media presented ShaLeigh Dance Works & Renay Aumiller on Friday, November 16th at Empower Dance Studio downtown for Third Friday. Proxemic’s Third Friday events offer the community an opportunity to experience some of the dance works being made here in the vibrant southeast.

Proxemic Media is a Durham, N.C.-based organization that provides affordable administrative services—securing venues, raising funds, marketing—so that artists can focus on developing their craft. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity for audiences to get closer to arts experiences by presenting performances beyond the theater setting.


Founder & Director Myra Weise has developed over ten years of arts administration experience working for renowned arts companies such as the American Dance Festival, Pilobolus, and within the proliferating arts community at Duke University in the Ticketing and Theater Operations department as well as the Nasher Museum of Art. From marketing and advertising to ticketing and venue management to audience services, the through-line of her career in the arts has been customer service. Whether the “customer” is a presenter, an artist or an audience member, Weise always works to anticipate their needs one step ahead thereby creating a pro-active, productive working environment. A professionally trained dancer, Weise has a unique understanding and perspective of choreographers needs as they seek to manifest their vision.

“November brought together two dance companies local to Durham for the past five years, Renay Aumiller Dances (RAD) and ShaLeigh Dance Works. And for about as equally as long, Proxemic Media founder Myra Weise has wanted to see their works alongside each other in the same program! Choreographers Renay Aumiller and ShaLeigh Comerford have consistently exuded technical virtuosity, compelling composition and a unique creative voice that gets only stronger with time.”

ShaLeigh Dance Works presented an excerpt of their upcoming evening length work Bamboo Wind set to premiere this January 17th through 20th at The Durham Fruit and Produce. Bamboo Wind commissions 20 artists in the fields of music, film, poetry, photography, sculpture, theatre, costume design, and dance for a major multi-art installation and performance.

Renay Aumiller and husband Dave Yarwood performed a process-exposed duet which means it was created in the moment by using a computer program designed by Dave. As the performances happened twice throughout the evening, the duet was entirely unique for each audience.

SDW performs at NCMA Gala

Larry Wheeler, who served as Director of the North Carolina Museum of Art for 24 years, led the museum during periods of historic growth, including the expansion of the park, amphitheater, and West Wing Building.  A former ‘Tar Heel of the Year’ winner, Wheeler’s friends and coworkers came together for a large gala celebrating his retirement.

Wheeler retired Nov. 1 after 24 years according to this article in the Washington Post by Geoff Edgers: “The North Carolina Museum of Art might as well be a solar system away from the international art fairs, auction halls and bicoastal behemoths that suck up so much of the art world’s oxygen. But during his tenure, Wheeler created a cultural hot spot in a state once known mainly for college basketball, Krispy Kreme and Andy Griffith. The North Carolina Museum of Art has a rich collection, a thriving exhibition program and an outdoor concert stage. A network of trails thread through its 164-acre campus. Over Wheeler’s tenure, he has added a glass-walled second building, doubled his staff and repeatedly broken attendance records. There are also things you can’t measure, the bold strokes and attitude that he brought to a once-sleepy institution.”

“For me, Larry’s just turned the lights on at the museum,” said Ann Goodnight, a onetime volunteer who, during Wheeler’s tenure, became a trustee and multimillion-dollar donor with her husband, Jim. “Before him, the museum was a hidden secret.”

SDW company members Anthony Nelson and Megan Rindoks joined the performing cast and donned the blue fabric pictured above to bring Ellsworth Kelly‘s Blue Panel to life. The nine-foot-tall, eight-foot-wide blue canvas according to Matthew Dunco in this article, aims to transform art into an almost spiritual experience. He states that the indifference we may feel while viewing it, neglects the experience of standing before it. That “indifference stems from simply accepting what is at face value, and art should never, ever be viewed as such.” I can’t think of a better painting for these two dancers to express, as they simply have a such a depth to bring to their movement that reveals the layers of possibility even the simplest of tasks.

This documentary follows Amanda Finch, Executive Creative Director of Down to Earth Aerials, who coordinated and managed all the performing artists across the campus and oversaw costume design. 

For more information:

SDW is a proud supporter of Live Globally!

ShaLeigh Dance Works is proud to be supporters of  Live Globally! We were honored to perform our movement installation entitled Invocations originally commissioned by North Carolina Museum of Art as well as our very first sneak peek of from our upcoming world premiere Bamboo Wind on behalf of their Winter Water Gala!


Live Globally works to improve the health and well-being of the children. The communities they engage are chosen with intentionality and care—ensuring they can successfully sustain the project’s effectiveness long after we are gone.

The Gala was held at The Durham Fruit and supported the children of Durham, the Ingrid School in Nairobi and Costa Rica with clean water projects!


Live Globally seeks out under resourced communities with minimal infrastructure for the health and well being of the children within the community. This happens, unfortunately, all over the world. When we choose communities to work with, we do so intentionally with the knowledge that the community will successfully sustain the project long after we are gone. By supporting liveglobally programs you are supporting unforgettable opportunities for meaningful sustainable impact!

To donate or learn more about this fabulous organization and how you can get involved, visit –>

NCDF Greensboro Tour

NCDF presents ShaLeigh Dance Works’ Dead Mans Walk, the company’s touring excerpt from I Promise at Greensboro Project Space Gallery.

Tonight we performed Dead Man’s Walk as a part of NCDF at Greensboro Project Space Gallery. The performance also featured The Bipeds and Megan Mazarick. In this intimate performance space, The Bipeds’ presented their duet for banjo and movement hybrid of dance and song. Megan Mazarick’s  solo dance story “monster,” unpacked female identity in new ways, remixing the metaphor of “hero vs. villain” to showcase the body in transformation. A short audience/artist conversation followed with an eager audience and great questions. We were excited to have such an engaged audience with so much curiosity and inquisitiveness about our work!

We left feeling so appreciative of our well received performance and I was elated to see my former mentor Christopher Morgan  in the audience! I was paired with Christopher as my mentor in 2009 as resident artist with Dance Theatre Workshop. Only while writing this am I learning that they closed their doors in 2011, one year after I left NYC. DTW was a prominent performance space and service organization for dance companies in NYC. It was founded in 1965 by Jeff Duncan, Art Bauman and Jack Moore as a choreographers’ collective. In 2002 DTW opened the Doris Duke Performance Center, which contained the 192-seat Bessie Schönberg Theatre.  It was incredible to chat about this work with Christopher after he witnessed my very beginnings in NYC in 2008. To sum up his words, he simply said, “It was beautiful. Keep going.” And like an early 20 something all over again, I was ecstatic. Leading a company is not an easy journey though I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But in that moment I was filled with utter hope and confidence. Keep going.


Artist Soapbox features Artistic Director ShaLeigh Comerford

Artist Soapbox Presents

Artistic Director ShaLeigh Comerford

How do we do the impossible? Choreographer ShaLeigh Comerford explores collaboration and sustainability with host Tamara Kissane.

Creating a sustainable revenue stream for artists often seems impossible – how do we do the impossible? ShaLeigh Comerford, dancer, choreographer, and the Artistic Director of ShaLeigh Dance Works discusses how she and her dancers create original work through collaborative questioning, her quest to attain financial sustainability, and arts activism. We also learn about two movement languages – Gaga, and ShaLeigh’s own Shaga.

Artist Soapbox is a podcast featuring artists in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Durham-based theatre-maker, Tamara Kissane, chats with artists about their work, their plans, and their manifestos*. This podcast is minimally edited and designed to give listeners a sense of the artist’s voice. Podcasts episodes are released on Mondays. The final Thursday of each month is reserved for a blog post.

Listen HERE.



NCDF Asheville Tour

North Carolina Dance Festival Presents


We were honored to presented by the North Carolina Dance Festival in Asheville, NC this past weekend! We performed at the charming Be Be Theatre which keenly reminded us of some of our favorite theatres in NYC!The BeBe Theater is a cozy and intimate black-box theater along a back street in downtown Asheville. The theatre is run by two local creatives: Susan and Giles Collard. We were warmly welcomed, celebrated and were honored to sell out our last show. The shared evening also featured Megan Mazarick, Ashley McCullough, Kristen Taylor Duncan and local group Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre. We were excited to present “Dead Man’s Walk,” the touring version of our recent evening-length “I Promise,” and a response to MLK Jr.’s iconic “I Have a Dream” speech. It may have been our strongest performance yet.

During the artist Q & A following the performance, we received numerous heartfelt responses to our work. Our work was met with more “thank you’s” than questions, more observations and responses than inquires. It was a beautiful sentiment to knowing that we reached our audience on this tour. We sure hope to be back again soon and left feeling humbled and grateful for the opportunity!

Huge thanks to Anne Morris at NC Dance Project for her passion to cultivate our NC Dance community and all of the opportunities it provides for us as artists! As well as thanks to Susan and Giles Collard for being incredible hosts for our work!

Here is Anne in early morning action on our behalf! For sure the culprit to selling out our last show!


I was honored to be invited to offer a free community master class on Saturday morning at the BeBe Theater. I was excited to share Shaga, the company’s movement language and how we used it to create the opening sequence of “Dead Man’s Walk.” We were met with such an enthusiastic response, I believe several of the students will soon be heading to Durham to join one of our upcoming community classes! Huge thanks to this willing and eager group of movers! We had a wonderful time sharing and moving with all of you!

Follow the festival here.