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.”

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