Our First Virtual Premiere

The In-Between. Photo by Slater Mapp

Most of our audience missed our premiere due to social distancing. So we decided to go digital! On Friday, May 15th we offered our first livestream viewing of our 2020 World Premiere of The In-Between, followed by a virtual talk back with the artists, dancers, and collaborators involved in the show. It was such a great success with 174 viewers joining us from all over the world, that we look forward to doing it again!

Click the image below to listen to our composers Kaanchee and Alex of Sand Pact speaking about our collaborative process for The In-Between in an interview on The State of Things! They join Host Frank Stasio to break down a section of the score and explain the creative process behind their soundscapes.

Featured in the score are reworked audio from a 1954 educational film, the sound of a whip crack and, naturally, some samples of Whitney Houston – Thanks to our Rosie Herrera 🌹

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Behind the Scenes of The In-Between: “Let the space partner you.” – Rosie Herrera

“Her company reminds me so much of my own.” -Rosie Herrera

In July we were honored to work with Rosie Herrera for the first time as a dramaturge and mentor. Rosie Herrera is a Cuban-American dancer and choreographer, and the artistic director of Rosie Herrera Dance Theater in Miami, FL. 

In Rosie’s process, she practices a radical, empathetic, and intuitive presence with the dancers. She devises tasks that encompass their bodies, spirits, and imaginations. Her work with the company helped to break open the symbolism of our starting points and movement phrases in a way that revealed something deeper about the human condition. We found ourselves so moved and inspired by her keen ability to articulate tasks that would guide the dancers towards physical moments of surrender. Her task about this particular section called “Carried” found its way into the final work.

As a choreographer, I have always been fascinated by an image I first saw in a book when I was a young dancer of a group of people holding someone up high above their heads. To me it looked liked the epitome of what I could ever hope to give to people one day – that kind of support to literally feel lifted. This image was our starting point for this section with Rosie. What I love about “Carried,” is that it developed into a more mature kind of support. We actually physically prepare to step to the side so that the one being caught can make their own choices. We moved from holding all of someones weight, to gently being there when they lean in so we can listen to the direction they want to go. It develops a sensitivity in the dancers and requires a vulnerability to practice a sort of pause before jumping in to catch. The presence and sensitivity of the bodies remain the most potent source of information about what is happening in this section. The release of control somehow physically honors our differences. We are there now to catch each other, but not to hold.


On the Making of The In-Between: Where it began

It all started with a residency at Azule in Hot Springs, NC in January of 2019! It is located on 35 rural acres in Western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. It was a needed respite as I rode off the heels of Bamboo Wind, our ambitious 2019 premiere that commissioned 20 local artists in the fields of music, lighting design, poetry, photography, sculpture, theatre, costume design, and dance for a multi-media performance installation.

Throughout the collaborative process of Bamboo Wind, I became increasingly interested in developing a diverse counterpart to its themes and wanting to explore ideas that challenged the ways in which we all perform identity. I was interested in attempting to design a process of dis-identification and reconstructing encoded cultural messages that expose the raw materials of identities and identifications. I looked to blur the boundaries of identity between masculine and feminine in order to re-imagine and reconstruct a broader challenge to social norms. Here is a sneak peek of the movement I was researching in my very first days at the residency.

I became deeply interested in when we assert movement and when movement is asserted. I wanted to feel my own struggle as if the movement itself was more like a cultural lens.

The usefulness of the term “identity” has become more complicated for me as I struggle with the dialectic of belonging/not belonging. The nature of identification by default creates a separation between that which belongs to an identity and that which does not, and so becomes labeled as “other.” The “other,” in its many meanings and makings, has become a catalyst for me as an artist and I see it emerging in encounters across difference. Identity as a concept seems central, and at times, empowering to the human experience, as well as analogous to the necessity of archetypes in story-telling. I am interested in how these complexities and textures press on the world and against each other, and how allowing difference creates a more inclusive experience of connectivity that outweighs its division. 

I have been deeply inspired by the research of Clare Croft, Esteban Munoz and Nicole Fleetwood in tandem with Albert Camus’ notion that “rebellion cannot exist without a strange form of love.” Paralleled with the nature of queer theory, the productive frictions among identities of gender, sexuality, race, nationality, and diaspora, seem to present a natural neutralizer to identity. As the “queer” can only emerge among, across, and between, I am keenly curious about the bridge between identifications, and the ability of dance-theatre to address the radical act of otherness as a broader challenge to social norms.

When I returned to Durham, the Company collectively looked to a more expansive projection of self to discover what truly creates a bridge from one person to another and to simultaneously uncover how the symbolic implications could potentially respond to the separation and divide we feel from the identity politics in our world today. 

Our work was enhanced and deepened by our time with Rosie Herrera, Artistic Director of Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre, through a two-week residency. Rosie provided a new and needed platform that nurtured us to dive deeper into our process and expand our creative capacity.

It is a rare opportunity to be encouraged as artists to challenge ourselves with in-depth approaches and to challenge our audiences with new ideas and methodologies. Through this work we share our personal identity stories, pleasures, and challenges. We move between multiple, layered identities. We wear masks and understand that it could be nothing and everything. We know that the masks could be both given to us and claimed by us. But we also know that what’s underneath is what we all share.


SDW at Booking Dance Festival NYC at Jazz at Lincoln Center!

Producer Jodi Kaplan’s Booking Dance Festival NYC is an annual dance extravaganza held during New York City’s APAP conference. Built with the artist in mind, the showcase offered us an opportunity to connect with an audience of renowned presenters. Held at the breathtaking Jazz at Lincoln Center, the magnificent venue featured 4,500 square feet of glass overlooking Central Park, the perfect backdrop for a magical evening of dance showcasing at the Asccoiation of Performing Artists Professionals conference. We were honored to showcase with them again this year!

Photo by Ashe

“I love this work! The build-up of tension is breathtaking!” – Jodi Kaplan, Booking Dance

We were lucky enough to catch up with NYC based photographer Ashe the morning after our show for a quick photo shoot in the financial district.

Photo by Ashe

And here are a few sneak peaks Ashe captured from our final rehearsal before the showcase! The newbie is our driver/assistant extraordinaire, also known as my amazing brother!

Photo by Ashe
Photo by Ashe
Photo by Ashe

2019 Revolutionaries in the Dark: BEST GALA YET!

Photo of SDW’s movement installation by Slater Mapp

From all of us at ShaLeigh Dance Works, thank you to all who joined us, volunteered, performed, donated, and supported us! We are so excited to share that our 3rd annual Revolutionaries in the Dark gala was our best attended Gala to date! Held at the prestigious Rickhouse, a retired prizery, this historic space transformed into an urban botanica thanks to the incredible decorations by Shannon Fairbanks and Paperhand Puppet Intervention. This special edition of the gala was themed Secret Garden – defined as new beginnings and growing to be seen – and we did just that! 


Photo of SDW performing The In-Between by Slater Mapp

Our one-of-a-kind annual fundraiser reflects the inclusive and innovative spirit that defines ShaLeigh Dance Works, and our success is driven by the dynamic arts community we serve. Our secret Guest Speaker, Davian Robinson, offered a fearless, shining example of why we do what we do!

Photo of Davian Robinson and Janie Desmond performing enVISION by Slater Mapp

Davian Robinson, originally from Hickory, NC, is a student, public speaker, and Paralympic athlete. Currently living in Charlotte, NC, he is completing his final year at UNC Charlotte earning degrees in Dance and Exercise Science. Davian lost his sight as a child and is breaking ground in innovative dance practices for people with low vision. Davian first met ShaLeigh Dance Works through Arts Access, a non-profit organization based in Raleigh that is dedicated to keeping the arts accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Photo of Davian Robinson performing his solo in enVISION by Slater Mapp

We were very proud to present our collaboration entitled enVISION, the finale of a three section work commissioned by Arts Access. The work intertwined the dance experiences of two individuals with mixed-abilities and the future of adaptive dance. The performance, like Davian’s unforgettable speech, reveals that through collaboration and imagination, anything is possible.

Photo of ShaLeigh Comerford performing enVISION with Janie Desmond by Slater Mapp

All proceeds for our Annual Campaign support the future of ShaLeigh Dance Works and our mission to create socially conscious dance-theatre work, expand the reach of our healing movement language, and offer engagement programs with a positive impact on the lives of others.

Photo of Davian Robinson performing enVISION with Janie Desmond by Slater Mapp


We were honored to present an incredible roster of artists for this unforgettable evening including World Record Juggler and Drag Queen Jude LeQueen and our beloved Poetry Fox creating handmade poems.

Photo of Jude LeQueen juggling by Slater Mapp

Culinary Alchemist Syrus Lune and Internationally acclaimed Pianist and Composer Alejandro Santoyo shared their talents in our main stage show. We were also honored to present chalk artist Margaret Sue Turner Wright, tarot reader Adam Gori, and DJ LonelyGirl who rocked our epic Dance Party all the way through clean up!

Photo of Alejandro Santoyo performing piano by Slater Mapp

ShaLeigh Dance Works shared four exciting dances including a humorous and at times, disturbing, series of solos entitled All of Shals; a new staging of Derivations based on the postmodern masterpiece Rosas danst Rosas; a sneak peek of our upcoming world premiere The In-Between.

Photo of SDW performing Derivations by Slater Mapp

Since 2017, we have held an annual Revolutionaries in the Dark Gala. The name comes from the desire to create a platform for artists creating socially engaged work. We want to create a platform that celebrates artists that are literally shining a light in dark places by challenging many of society’s deepest assumptions. We see our work as a cultural tool that helps to expose and humanize the emotions we feel. We are deeply inspired by those providing a voice for others who may not have another way to be heard. This work calls us to action and we want to continue to participate in these shared efforts for deep and lasting social change. Our company’s mission is to create socially conscious dance-theatre, expand the reach of our healing movement language, and offer engagement programs with positive impact on the lives of others. Our growing outreach initiatives continue to provide platforms that support other artists and organizations with similar mission driven work.

Photo of ShaLeigh Comerford speaking by Slater Mapp

We see our Gala as something that not only supports us and the work we do, but we are actively seeking to change the way artists are valued. We see this as a part of a much bigger conversation. And just as we want to create a platform for other artists shining a light in the dark and working to create change, we want to shine our light on them as well! We hope the Gala will continue to grow each year and become an event that deeply inspires us all.

Photo of SDW’s performance installation by Slater Mapp

With an uncompromising focus on artistic excellence, nurturing artists, and designing programs to empower at-risk communities, we aim to provide a concrete example of how dance can transform people’s lives and enrich society. 

Photo of ShaLeigh Comerford and Janie Desmond performing enVISION by Slater Mapp

Click Here to Find our 2019 Fundraising Campaign and choose a reward for your donation today!

From all of us at ShaLeigh Dance Works, we would like to say a special thank you to our company manager, Kayla Oelhafen; our decorations manager, Shannon Fairbanks; our marketing manager, Abby Bradetich; and our sponsorship manager, Joni Favley. Without your tireless dedication and support, none of this would have been possible.

The Featured Artists of Secret Garden Rendezvous

Our 3rd annual gala, Revolutionaries in the Dark, is coming up this Sunday, October 13th, at The Rickhouse! We are excited to present our Featured Artists for this special edition of the gala, themed Secret Garden – defined as new beginnings and growing to be seen. The elegant extravaganza will include wine tastings, hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, a secret guest speaker, performances by ShaLeigh Dance Works, and an incredible line up of Artists!


In a recent interview with Triangle Arts Review, ShaLeigh explained why featuring these artists are such an important vision for the Gala: “We call the Gala Revolutionaries in the Dark to keep powerful art experiences at the center of a broader conversation about cultural values and the intellectual, aesthetic, and social purpose of making art. Our annual platform is also intended to celebrate other artists that are literally shining a light in dark places by challenging many of society’s deepest assumptions. This work calls us to action, and we want to continue to participate in these shared efforts for deep and lasting social change. Our annual fundraising campaign gives us the opportunity to make a statement of advocacy for the arts that is deeply meaningful to why we create the work we do from our productions to our movement language and our engagement programs.”

We are so excited to have World Record Juggler and Drag Queen Jude LeQueen join us for our gala! Don’t miss your chance to see this amazing human perform! Jude says, “SDW’s mission to promote inclusion in the arts is something I value as a performer. It’s always great to see supportive spaces being created, ultimately allowing for creative growth.”

Jude LeQueen is a world record holding juggler, drag queen, and visual artist based in Apex, NC. Through dramatic performances that mix avant-garde circus with theatre, LeQueen creates an immersive experience that is at the forefront of modern circus arts. Jude LeQueen learned how to juggle at the age of six, and has never lost the passion for performing. In 2017 and 2018, LeQueen competed in the finals of the International Jugglers’ Association Stage Championships. From 2017-2019 LeQueen has also broken over 20 juggling world records, and continues to push the boundaries of the art form. Currently majoring in graphic design at UNCG, he seeks to combine elements of visual language into performance. Using design and aesthetic to create a futuristic take on a classic circus style.

We are thrilled to have the one and only Poetry Fox join us at our gala again this year! Don’t miss your chance to get a personally written poem by Chris Vitiello! Chris says, “ShaLeigh and her company aren’t just remarkable performers; they’re remarkable people. Whether I’m collaborating with the company in rehearsals or just going to one of their performances as an audience member, I know I’m coming away from the experience with something positive and meaningful.”

Chris Vitiello is a writer, performer, and arts organizer. As the Poetry Fox, he writes poems on-demand on vintage typewriters at all manner of events. His poetry books include Obedience (Ahsahta, 2012) and Irresponsibility (Ahsahta, 2008).

We are so excited to have Culinary Alchemist Syrus Lune joining us! He is a performance artist that creates an artwork out of food that is both edible and beautiful. The piece of art he creates onstage at the gala will be available for purchase! Syrus says, “I’m supporting this event because of the theme for the show. New beginnings for Syrus as I transition into making my dream a reality.”

Syrus is a culinary alchemist. He began cooking around the age of 6 alongside his grandmother. They spent time together writing menus and developing recipes. The first time he stepped in the kitchen she explained the importance of being able to cook for himself. Fourteen years later, Syrus graduated from Johnson and Wales, hungry for new experiences. Now he has over 10 years of restaurant experience to use as he grows as an artist. His intentions are to push the boundaries of food service while displaying his emotional connection with the process of cooking. His passion is to create a unique experience for you to try a dish and also leave feeling spiritually full.

We are so happy to have DJ LonelyGirl joining us this year! Although rather new to the DJ scene, Lizzie (DJ LonelyGirl) is no stranger to the Triangle area. Currently based in Durham, NC, her love and affinity for music has been lifelong. “After studying theory and learning multiple musical instruments, becoming a DJ seemed like the next step in my relationship with music,” she says. Her mantra has always been: no matter what life throws at you, music will always be there to lift you up. She is excited to support ShaLeigh Dance Works, as she believes they share a common goal. “Like myself, the company also incorporates music to invoke emotional release, through dance. Any expressionism involving music is ethereal, universal, and makes the world a better place.” DJ LonelyGirl has performed at The Pinhook, The Fruit, Ruby Deluxe, Arcana, The Bar, and Imurj. Don’t miss your chance to enjoy DJ LonelyGirl’s music and join SDW for the closing dance party!

We are so fortunate to have a special guest artist join us at the gala on Sunday. ShaLeigh’s mom, Margaret Sue Turner Wright, will be drawing live during the event! Margaret says, “ShaLeigh has always had an enriching effect on me and on others. Her dance of life, is to behold the deeper wisdom that lives within each of us, and heals us. Nowhere else have I ever seen, the Dance of Life to come onto the center stage of life for others to know and feel that inner dance, that inner power and deep inspiration, as thru what ShaLeigh has shared and gifted to the community of these kindred dancing spirits. I support ShaLeigh as my beloved daughter, and I support her sacred work, in this Sacred journey, the Dance of Life for self and for others. I choose to document her Dance Works thru my own inner dance with paint and brush.”

More about Margaret: Margaret, Manager of Gallery 202 for 6 years, is a plein air artist and figure painter, a full time working artist and teacher, and has had her artwork featured on book covers, program covers and been commissioned for corporate marketing materials. She has exhibited at the Orange County Historical Museum and the Virginia Museum of Transportation and has a painting in the permanent collection of the Wood Brothers Museum. She is a member of the Copyist Program at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, completed Solo Exhibitions and been a featured artist for local and regional galleries. Margaret Sue is founder of regional, Lonely Arts Club Plein Air Painters, and Group 202 Figure Painters, and Co founder of Plein Air Roanoke. Her representational impressionist style of art has also been referred to as enthusiastic, bold and passionate. In 2017 and in 2018, Margaret Sue was honored to receive a nomination each year, for the Perry F. Kendig Award, sponsored by Roanoke College and Hollins University.

We are excited to have Adam Gori offering Tarot Readings for our guests. When asked about himself, Adam says, “Let’s see what the cards have to say instead: The Wheel never stops. We’re all on it, being spun ever forward. We can also see the Wheel as a representation of the cards shuffling. It’s the same thing — our lives spinning and flickering, the cards shuffling. Until we take a moment to look. We draw one card from the shuffle, one moment from the constant spinning. Then another in this case. And another. After the Wheel, we get two cards of communication. In Judgment, a call comes from above, focused downward. In The Moon, a response comes from below, focused upward. It’s a call and response. The shuffle is interrupted. A call is made, and a response returns the call to its own source. A question and an answer. That’s what we do. It’s that simple. Don’t ask me how it works. Who knows?

Adam says, “ShaLeigh gives to our community with an open heart and mind. Her courageous dancers allow us to see that heart and mind moving before us. We are so lucky to have a choreographer like ShaLeigh in our community, who seeks ways of moving in the world that are surprising and somehow mending as well as cognizant of the ways in which movement connects us all to ourselves and to one another.”

And now … about our “secret speaker” who is prompting a lot of buzz! While we cant give it away, we asked ShaLeigh if she could give us a hint, she says “If I could describe our speaker in one word, it would be ‘fearless.'” 

A few other things she let us know were that the speaker is “contagiously inspiring, an innovator, and a pioneer in new inclusive movement methodologies.” She also explained that the speaker recently served as a presenter at the Alexander Technique National Conference at Columbia University in New York City and said that “I have no doubt he will leave his mark on the world of dance and certainly will move everyone who hears him speak.”

Cant make the Gala but still want to support us?


Our 3rd Annual Gala: You won’t want to miss this!


We truly believe that we are in deep need of work that affirms and promotes a sense of community, empathy, and connection; work that restores us, reminds us that we’re human, and connects us to one another again. We believe that by investing in our efforts, we can discover new possibilities and can begin to engage in a different dialogue about what it means to be an artist, how valuable it is, how we can affect change, and how we can contribute to our universal human experience. I am keeping faith that individuals who are able to join us in this endeavor will do so.

Our annual fundraising campaign sustains these efforts and by making a commitment to contribute, you are making a powerful statement of advocacy for the arts that is deeply meaningful in today’s world.


Your support directly impacts the power of bringing the arts to the lives of others and sustains our artists, staff members, and programs. Here’s how:

  • Performing Artists – Your donation will help us value and nurture our artists with rehearsal wages, physical therapy, and wellness programs for our 8 Performing Artists.  
© 2019 ShaLeigh Comerford
  • Engagement Programs – Your donation will allow us to expand the reach of our community engagement programs for special populations and audiences.
  • Programming Support – Your donation will enable us to expand our artistic vision with greater access to costuming, props, lighting, set design, sound design, lighting design, administrative fees, touring, marketing & promotional materials.
  • Staff Support – Your donation will sustain our behind-the-scenes efforts with wages for our growing team of collaborators.

A dynamic cultural sector is a catalyst for growth, attracting and retaining businesses and visitors. By supporting ShaLeigh Dance Works’ programming, you are supporting opportunities with meaningful and sustainable impact for both individuals and communities!


ShaLeigh Dance Works announces new partnership with the Reality Center

After three years of providing performances for the infamous and loved Reality Ministries Talent Show, we enjoyed offering community members two, week-long residencies of movement classes as a part of Summerfest. The four-day Summer Day Camps were open to anyone involved with Reality during the year and provided people of all abilities memorable, un-rushed, communal experiences. We were excited to offer ShaGA specially designed with diverse abilities and needs in mind.

ShaGa is a somatic movement practice that has developed over the course of 15 years. It is a synthesis of ShaLeigh Comerford’s lifelong movement research that first began with the discovery of Peter Levine’s somatic experiencing and her passion to create healing movement programs for special populations. Her thesis entitled The Power of Identity through Movement created embodiment curricula for individuals with physical disabilities, mental illness, and survivors of trauma. In collaboration with SDW Company dancers, we have designed programming that is accessible and experiential for individuals of all abilities. Using evocative ideas and imagery rooted in creative, somatic movement games, our program provides an improvisational playground that connects the body and the imagination.

Company members Abby Bradetich and Steven James leading class at Summerfest.

After a successful first offering of this new program, ShaLeigh Dance Works and the Reality Center are excited to announce their new partnership that will provide two weekly movement classes for teens and adults with developmental disabilities as a part of their Day Program this year!

ShaLeigh with her long-time student Janie Desmond and Marc Brew, the Artistic Director of Axis Dance Company.

ShaLeigh founded the first Mixed-ability dance program in her home town of Roanoke, VA in collaboration with The Roanoke Ballet Theatre in 2003 and decided to launch it again at The Durham Arts Council in 2004 after identifying the need for accessible dance programs. Her engagement work has continued to offer multiple performance opportunities each year that bring mixed-ability movers to professional stages in the Triangle. This summer, she was an invited speaker for a panel discussion with Axis Dance Company and Arts Access on making dance inclusive and welcoming to people with disabilities.

ABOUT:The Reality Center is a community-based non-profit that offers a variety of opportunities for participants to work, play, learn, and grow together. Our mission is to create opportunities for teens and adults with and without developmental disabilities to experience belonging and kinship. The Reality Center is a place with no margins where everyone is accepted, valued, and celebrated.

SHALEIGH DANCE WORKS performs at Alia El-Bermani: Like Sound Through Water

Anchorlight in Raleigh, NC presented a solo exhibition of new work by Alia El-Bermani. Through painting, drawing, and paper sculpture El-Bermani shared her current study of loss and resiliency. She allowed the grief experienced over the recent loss of her mother to flow into a more universal search for quiet meaning.  The closing night of the exhibition, we were honored to perform a movement installation inspired by Alia’s work.

Photo by Slater Mapp

It was truly a unique experience to engage with each piece of art through a collaborative and intimate creation process with the artist herself. Alia walked us through each piece and shared the stage of grief that was expressed.

Photo by Slater Mapp

The dancers were given the task to embody the sensation of each emotion as the source of raw movement. Their task was to be experiential rather than decorative. Instead of telling the story of the painting, each dancer entered into it as a room, a time, and a place.

Alia and I scored the piece according to our chill bumps. We found resonant moments when the choreography could reveal a felt sense – where the subjective qualities described could transform into raw, direct experiencing of the body’s feeling within these specific experiences and memories. We wanted to allow expression to the emotions that were already inherently in the work and to make them visible in a way that was experienceable.

Photo by Slater Mapp

We reached to uncover the multiple, experiential layers within the metaphors and symbolism throughout the body of work. Unexpected symbols and meanings revealed themselves to Alia as she was creating these mixed media drawings, paintings and paper sculpture installation. We were as interested in it’s clear visual language as much as the layers and metaphors underneath, and saw the two as interchangeable.

Photo by Slater Mapp

At the final dress rehearsal, I experimented with exchanging one sense organ for another: the eyes for the ears such as when the movers began to speak without sound. I wanted to reveal the depth of these lived sensations behind Alia’s story. There could possibly be few moments more poignant to loss than to see without sound, to know something is there but you can’t translate it. We unlocked a space that isolates this moment of a pure desire to receive something that feels so out of reach.

Photo by Slater Mapp

Alia El-Bermani’s Artist Statement for Like Sound Through Water

With this exhibition, I set myself up for an impossible task. Representing the enormity of what remains when someone so important passes; Living grief while trying to analyze it, like a scientist or journalist, trying to record yet not impact the event. Impossible. Grief is a fog that has altered my perception. It’s slowed me, physically impeding movement, blurring my vision. It’s just vapor. It’s just thoughts. It’s just so thick. I grew up outside any standard belief system. This gives me both the obligation and freedom to create my own myths for what happens beyond. In our home, science was the closest thing we had to religion. And so to science I turn for comfort, for answers, for structure during what feels like a chasm of chaos. Like sound through water, only the lowest, most soulful frequencies persist. Deep within the ocean there is a floating channel of water that at just the right pressure and just the right temperature, sound travels further than anywhere else on earth. In this layer, whose boundaries act as a waveguide, the speed of sound is at its minimum, capable of traveling thousands of miles. Like the songs of baleen whales, I like to think this is where we hear our ancestors call. This is where I will hear her songs once again.

In memory of my mother: Dr. Eunice I. Bloomquist

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Our deepest thanks to Slater Mapp for his compelling photography that captured the essence of this remarkable installation!

Alia El-Bermani

ABOUT ALIA EL-BERMANI: Artist, teacher and independent curator, Alia El-Bermani was raised in a small town just south of Boston, where she spent most of her childhood enjoying the outdoors and discovering the natural history of the south shore of Massachusetts. She received her BFA in 2000 from Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach CA. This talented figurative painter has had several solo exhibitions as well as her work featured in numerous group exhibitions across the country.  Her paintings and drawings have been showcased in museums such as the Palm Springs Desert Museum in California, Customs House Museum in Tennessee, Anchorage Museum of History and Art in Alaska, West Valley Art Museum in Arizona, Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto and the Greenville Museum of Art in North Carolina.  In 2015 her painting Paper Wishes was acquired by the Museu Europeu d’Art Modern (MEAM), in Barcelona, Spain for their permanent collection. She is also a seasoned instructor who has taught at both the college and workshop level.  El-Bermani has been an honored guest lecturer at several universities including East Carolina University, Meredith College, Laguna College of Art and Design and Texas A&M University.  She is a member of the Portrait Society of America as well as a co-founder of the important blog Women Painting Women.  Several articles have been written on her work in such periodicals as American Art Collector, iArtistas, ArtSee, Art Week, The Independent, LA Weekly and the Savvy Painter Podcast.  She currently works out of her studio in Raleigh, NC.

ABOUT ANCHORLIGHT: Anchorlight is a creative space, founded with the intent of fostering artists at varying stages of their development. Anchorlight provides a combination of artist studios, residency opportunities, and exhibition space. Through the establishment of an internal community of artists, designers, and craftspeople, Anchorlight encourages mentorship and the cross-pollination of knowledge and skills. In this way we strive to enhance the cultural environment of the surrounding community and our city as a whole.

SHALEIGH DANCE WORKS in residence with ROSIE HERRERA DANCE THEATRE for the company’s newest evening-length work The In-Between

We were honored to welcome Rosie Herrera, Artistic Director of Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre for a two week residency with SDW from July 2 -12th, 2019.

This residency offered an incredible opportunity for the artistic development of the dancers as well as our newest choreography The In-Between. We workshopped our current material and developed new ways of expression to extend our repertoire of movements, images, ideas, and vignettes. Our newest work began powerfully as something that demanded expression. Rosie helped us dig into its universal themes. She practiced a deep presence with each dancer and every idea. She helped us break open the symbolism in a way that revealed something deeper about the human condition. 

Rosie’s dramaturgical sophistication allowed an intimacy to form with our inquiries and subject matter. She guided us towards moments that would reveal an experience of the layer deeper than our expectations and associations. Through this process, we each discovered a vulnerability and truth that we didn’t know was hidden. She skillfully introduced props as symbolic objects that inherently added the emotion of both laughter and tears simultaneously. We learned so much from her about how to build a deeper connection to working with props. She intuitively was able to expose what was already there in the image of the prop as well as what was in us.  It was as if she set the conditions for our own humanity to emerge. 

Rosie and ShaLeigh have shared a long held admiration and artistic bond since discovering each other at The American Dance Festival. ShaLeigh first experienced Rosie’s work while attending ADF as a scholarship student in 2009. Rosie presented her Various Stages of Drowning: A Cabaret which was set on students for the Past/Forward program. Rosie first discovered ShaLeigh as a dancer for Elizabeth Corbett’s Forsythe Project that same year.

This pattern of Rosie presenting and ShaLeigh performing continued every summer until Rosie’s first experience of ShaLeigh’s choreography which would be as an adjudicator for Here and Now: NC Dances giving ShaLeigh Dance Works its ADF premiere in 2015. In 2016, Rosie invited ShaLeigh to perform a solo in the world premiere of Carne Viva at ADF. The two also shared a very special relationship with long-time ADF costumer John Brinkman who passed in 2017. He always wanted the two to work more together and this residency would have made him very proud. ShaLeigh and the company hope that this is just the beginning of an incredibly nourishing mentorship and collaboration.

Rosie’s final note to us, “Give yourself and the dancers time to explore and dig deep. Trust yourself!”

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The residency was made possible in part by The American Dance Festival, Ninth Street Dance, Empower Dance Studio, and Living Arts Collective. All photos by Philippe Alexandre

ABOUT: Rosie Herrera is a Cuban-American dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Rosie Herrera Dance Theater in Miami. She is a graduate from New World School with a BFA in Dance Performance. She has been commissioned by The Miami Light Project, The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Ballet Hispanico, Moving Ground Dance Theater, Houston Met Dance, New World Symphony and the American Dance Festival (ADF) in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2016.  Her company has been presented by the Northrop Dance Series, New World Symphony, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Baryshnicov Arts Center, Texas A & M University, Duncan Theater, The Annenburg Center in Philadelphia, Maui Arts and Cultural Center, Dance Place, Gotham Dance at Skirball and Focus Dance at The Joyce NYC as well as by The American Dance Festival at the Joyce NYC in 2016.

Rosie is also a classically trained lyric coloratura soprano and performs with the Performers Music Institute Opera Ensemble as well as works as an independent director and creative consultant throughout Miami. With over a decade of experience in both dance and cabaret, she has collaborated on productions with The South Miami Dade Cultural Arts Center, New World School of the Arts, The University of Central Florida, Six Floor Ensemble, Zoetic Stage and the New World Symphony as well as with the interdisciplinary performance ensemble/avant- garde cabaret Circ X. She has also collaborated with filmmakers Adam Reign, Lucas Leyva, George Echevarria and Clyde Scott to create original short films and music videos.

Rosie is a 2016 USArtist Sarah Arison Choreographic Fellow, a 2010 and 2018 MANCC choreographic fellow, a 2014 Bates Dance Festival Artist in residence, a 2016 Bessie Schoenberg Fellow and a 2011 and 2016 Miami Dance Fellow.  She was awarded a Princess Grace Choreographic Fellowship for her work with Ballet Hispanico in 2013.

Visit her website here