New Performers, New Personnel, and New Venues Enliven Durham Independent Dance Artists' 2016–17 Season [Updated] | Arts
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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

New Performers, New Personnel, and New Venues Enliven Durham Independent Dance Artists' 2016–17 Season [Updated]

Posted by on Wed, Aug 10, 2016 at 9:56 AM

  • photo courtesy of Stephanie Leathers
  • Emily Aiken

Durham Independent Dance Artists
has just unveiled its third season. Eight performances across 2016–17 include a handful of artists new to DIDA—including one international choreographer, collaborating with Culture Mill's Tommy Noonan—in addition to local mainstays. The new season is also marked by key venue and personnel changes.

Since its start, DIDA has positioned itself as an adaptive organization, shape-shifting to meet its original aim: to strategically bring together resources and promotional support in order to solidify the independent dance scene in Durham.

This season, DIDA extends its emphasis on nontraditional performance spaces; none of the 2016–17 shows will take place in a proscenium theater. After a September launch party, the season opens in October with Noonan and Marie Lenfant and then continues in November with a roving outdoor installation by Stephanie Leathers.

"Space in Durham is full of contradiction," DIDA cofounder Lightsey Darst told the INDY. "You've got the excitement of the new and the fear of change, layers of history coming to light and the grim reality that people of color who built much of that history are being pushed out. When you're in a theater, you're in an alternate reality, which is wonderful in its own right. But many DIDA artists want to wrestle with our context, and being out in the real city is a powerful way to do that."

In April, the Department of Improvised Dance collaborates with D-Town Brass at 21C Museum Hotel. And, toward the end of the season, DIDA will help usher in the Durham Fruit and Produce Company as a new (or at least, more official) multipurpose arts space downtown, with both full-length and installation work from DIDA cofounder Justin Tornow’s COMPANY. (The site will also serve as a physical home for DIDA beginning next summer.) Expect pop-up previews, performances, and post-show happy hours in between the main-stage offerings.

On the organizational side, Allie Pfeffer and Alyssa Noble have stepped into administrative roles previously held by founding members Leah Wilks and Nicola Bullock (headed to Illinois for graduate school and to Berlin, respectively). In February, Pfeffer and Noble will perform together at the Living Arts Collective in the Trotter Building (the venue used in’s smash of a 2015–16 season-closer, Feature Presentation).

Three years in, DIDA has made good on its promises, combining curatorial skill with organizational efficacy. It has become a highly visible presenter, and audiences anticipate its offerings. But what about local dance beyond DIDA? In an effort to share the Durham dance wealth, DIDA is launching an email newsletter that will, according to a press release, spread the word about “performances, classes, auditions, and other dance opportunities in Durham.” Anyone can sign up by emailing

"I'm most excited by the way this season's DIDA artists are really running with the challenge of making astonishing experiences from whatever is around them," Darst says. "It's hard to explain because words like 'interdisciplinary' and 'site-specific' are so overworked, but imagine a piece for which audience members create the soundtrack, or a dance you follow across the city over a weekend, or a dance-art-design happening that alters the perceived physics of a space over several weeks. Durham dance is coming into its own, and we don't entirely know what that means yet—that's the thrill."

The full 2016–17 offerings as described in a press release are below:

DIDA Season Launch Party
Date: September 17, 2016
Venue: Arcana
Join DIDA to launch our fall season with brief performances from Anna Barker, Matthew Young, and Ginger Wagg and dance party by DJ Fifi Hi-fi.

Tommy Noonan / Marie Lenfant (international guest artist)
Date: October 15-16, 2016
Venue: Living Arts Collective/ The Trotter Building
Culture Mill presents a shared evening of two solos, which together explore thrilling and unsettling images of ambition, power, and success.

Stephanie Leathers
Date: November 10–12, 2016
Venue: Various locations in Durham
See Durham through Stephanie Leathers’ roaming multimedia installation, which zeroes in on local development and sustainability.

Porter Witsell/ Anagnorisis
Date: January/February 2017, dates TBA
Venue: TBA
What can we lift together? A performance that explores a possible community.

Alyssa Noble and Allie Pfeffer
Date: February 2017, dates TBA
Venue: Living Arts Collective / The Trotter Building
Alyssa Noble and Allie Pfeffer create interlocking solos that occupy the same space but never at the same time.

Matthew Young/The Department
Date: April 2017, dates TBA
Venue: 21c Museum Hotel
The Department of Improvised Dance teams up with D-Town Brass in a collaborative polyphony of movement and sound.

Rabble & Twine
Date: May 2017, dates TBA
Venue: TBA
Fly by Pluto and other dwarf planets in this interdisciplinary work.

Renay Aumiller/RAD (Renay Aumiller Dances)
Date: June 2017, dates TBA
Venue: TBA
RAD/Renay Aumiller Dances explores the art of personal change, moving from the fine anatomy of one body to the structure of the social body at large.

Justin Tornow/COMPANY
Date: June/July 2017, dates TBA
Venue: The Durham Fruit & Produce Company
Over several weeks, COMPANY combines a full-length dance work with smaller installations, resulting in a large scale, collage-style, interdisciplinary work. Think black holes, magnetic force, and interstellar orbit.

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