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As part of the 2017-2018 Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA) season,

ShaLeigh Dance Works presents I Promise

December 15-17, 2017

at The Fruit

Durham, NC – Celebrating their third season in NC, ShaLeigh Dance Works unveils the world premiere of I Promise, the company’s second evening-length work. Influenced by the presidential election and subsequent events, Comerford and her company draw on the imagery of rioting and rebellion to question how we define our tribe, what connects us, and what separates us. For Comerford’s multicultural cast, the past year has been fraught, and that tension emerges in visceral modern dance. “We couldn’t leave what’s going on in the world out of the studio,” Comerford says. At the same time, “It’s a hopeful piece,” she says: “to rebel, you need something worth fighting for.” The title of the work is a response to Martin Luther King’s iconic 1963 speech, “I Have a Dream.” I Promise is the sentiment of remembering to carry the dream forward.

The evening length piece is presented in four sections, interweaving solos, duets and large ensemble work. The structure underlines the tension between sharing the burden of renovation and how each person inevitably longs to change the world in his or her own way.

I Promise is a departure from Comerford’s previous works: the work aims to illicit emotive responses from viewers rather than narratively charged interpretations. The physicality of  I Promise is driven by the desire to rebel and fueled by Comerford’s vision to transform unspoken emotions into physical sensations. The use of ensemble work is also a departure from Comerford’s previous character-driven narratives. Although individuals momentarily emerge through solos, and relationships emerge through duets, the ensemble work dominates, revealing a tribal force pointing at humanity. “I wanted to remind myself to shift my focus towards envisioning in an even broader sense beyond identity. We need a new way to respond to the polarization we all feel at this critical time in the history of our country,” says Comerford.

I Promise is choreographed by Artistic Director ShaLeigh Comerford in collaboration with her diverse company of performing artists. The company includes dancer and martial artist Majid Bastani; visual and performing artist Jonh Blanco; choreographer and performer Dana Livermore; dancer, choreographer and teacher Hannah Nicole Marr; dancer, choreographer and teacher Anthony Otto Nelson Jr;  dancer Megan Rindoks; and dancer and writer Martin Sueldo. Dramaturgy is by playwright Lucia Del Vecchio. Text is written by Chris Vitiello. Original compositions and covers are by Mike Wall at soundFORMovement.


ShaLeigh Dance Works, under the artistic leadership of ShaLeigh Comerford, celebrates its third season in North Carolina this year. The company made its debut in May of 2007 in New York City, receiving a standing ovation at Judson Memorial. Comerford was featured as an emerging choreographer at Chen Dance Center and was a recipient of DTW’s Creative Residency. Since relocating to North Carolina, the company has been presented by the NCDF 2013-14 season tour, the 2015 ADF Performance Season, Culture Mill’s Trust the Bus, Triangle Dance Project’s Emergence, Empower Dance Studio’s Durham Renaissance at the Carolina Theatre, and DIDA’s first curated season of local dance. Comerford’s choreography and commissions have been presented throughout the United States and abroad, including an award winning contemporary solo, The Within. CVNC noted,  “Comerford’s dance language, with its mix of Gaga-style freedom of movement and balletic elegance, is well suited to the complex balance of dance theatre.” Collaboration, diversity and outreach are central to the company’s ethos and the multicultural and multidisciplinary troupe is comprised of actors, writers, visual artists, martial artists, and dance makers. ShaLeigh Dance Works will be showcased at APAP with Booking Dance Festival NYC at Jazz at Lincoln Center this January and at Dixon Place this spring.


ShaLeigh Dance Works presents I Promise, a dance inspired by rebellion and performed by a multicultural troupe of performance artists. December 15 and 16 at 8pm and December 17 at 3pm and 7pm. The Fruit, 305 S Dillard Street, Durham NC.


I Promise will be staged at Durham Fruit & Produce, a 15,000 square foot warehouse space in downtown Durham, located at 305 S. Dillard St. The venue has recently undergone renovation and is now climate controlled, fully accessible, and equipped with restrooms sufficient to accommodate large events at the space. Parking is available free of charge (after 6 PM during the week and throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday) in the parking lot for Durham Health and Human Services located at E. Main St. and S. Dillard St.; the entrance to the lot is off of S. Dillard St. Additionally, there is nearby street parking on Ramseur St. and S. Dillard St. VIP and General Admission tickets are available at

DIDA (Durham Independent Dance Artists) raises the profile of independent dance in Durham by curating a season of dance performances by local choreographers. We connect audiences and artists, providing audiences with easy access to exciting local work and providing artists with increased visibility to local audiences.

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