How does NC #dancelocal? Triangle edition!

March 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

What’s great about dancing in the Triangle, you ask? Read on.


We’ve asked NC dancers and choreographers connected with NCDF to share with us their favorite things about dancing in their home cities, because who doesn’t love to #dancelocal?

Most of the dancers we surveyed were active across the Triangle, dancing, teaching, and spending time in all three Triangle cities: Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. However, nearly all highlighted the vibrant dance community in Durham in particular, describing it as spacious, innovative, supportive, and boundless.

Helen Simoneau teaching at the ADF Scripps Studios. Photo by Grant Halverson.

Helen Simoneau teaching at the ADF Scripps Studios. Photo by Grant Halverson.

One of the coolest spots to get your groove on in Durham is the American Dance Festival’s Samuel H Scripps studio. Dancers love popping into their professional classes and participating in the “local look and listen” series. 9th St. Dance is also a favorite place for our artists to teach, take class, and rehearse. In the Raleigh area, performer Amanda Beaty calls Arts Together “home,” and enjoys taking ballet class at the Raleigh School of Ballet.

Durham Arts Council. Credit: Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau

Durham Arts Council. Credit: Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau

A favored performance space for many Durham dancers is the PSI theater at the Durham Arts Council. Artist Leah Wilks loves the space for intimate one person shows because of the small space.  One thing that most Durham dancers agree upon is the need for more dance friendly/affordable dance venues in the area. “Spaces in which to present work can be hard to come by” Leah says, “I’m still looking for the perfect high-ceiling-ed, malleable space with a sufficient electrical grid and working bathrooms.” Durham dancers are very resourceful when it comes to finding performance space. Local choreographer Justin Tornow has been presenting an artist series at The Carrack, “a great place to dance,” she says, though not strictly a dance space. Raleigh has its share of non-traditional dance spaces, too, like Artspace and NC Museum of Art, or the intimate Burning Coal Theatre. Renay Aumiller says that many people have been renting out warehouses and galleries for performances and showings.”There are so many professional dancers and choreographers who live here now…the time has come where we need affordable rentals with dance friendly floors” she says.

For larger, proscenium theaters, the universities get high marks, from Duke’s Reynolds Industries Theatre, to UNC’s Memorial Hall, and NC State University’s Titmus and Stewart Theatres.

For many dancers, the Triangle offers more than just great opportunities for dance. Triangle dancers agree that the general arts scene is buzzing in Durham, with more events, exhibits, and showings every weekend than any one art-lover can make it to! Kristi Vincent Thomas also appreciates the numerous festivals and family-friendly events taking place in the area year-round. Choreographer Autumn Mist Belk loves the arts and local artisan shops in downtown Raleigh. 

And of course what dancer doesn’t love food? The region has some excellent food and beverage choices! Renay Aumiller puts in a plug for Fullsteam, a local Durham brewery. Justin Tornow is a sucker for a good cup of coffee and reports that “the coffee in this town is awesome.”

The number one thing that our artists love about dancing and living in Durham are the people and the character of the city. Justin says “There are independent dance artists who are committed to uniting the community, sharing resources and ideas, and creating opportunities for everyone to make more– and stronger– work. That is extremely exciting to be a part of.”

Renay Aumiller Dances at the ADF Scripps Studios. Photo credit: Stephanie Leathers

Renay Aumiller Dances at the ADF Scripps Studios. Photo credit: Stephanie Leathers

Leah Wilks loves the feeling of camaraderie between the dancers in the area. She feels that everyone takes their craft seriously but still knows how to have fun and be caring human beings.”We’re still figuring out what our scene is all about, which means there’s space for lots of different kinds of work to be created.”says Leah.

ShaLeigh Dance Works rehearsal. Credit: Jose Velasquez

ShaLeigh Dance Works rehearsal. Credit: Jose Velasquez

Kristi Vincent Johnson gives credit to local audiences in the Triangle, too: “I feel the community/audience is open to artists pushing the envelope.  I believe audiences here expect to see the unexpected.  I believe audiences here are drawn to artists whose artistic voice deviates from the norm and expands their definition of dance.”

Feeling the Triangle love? Check out these other local arts organizations that our respondents feel are making a difference in the area:

danceSPARKCode f.a.d. Company, Black Box Dance Theater, NC Arts in Action, American Dance Festival’s Project Dance, the Durham Arts Council, Justice Theatre Project, the Triangle Dance Project, Triangle ArtworksJCTworks

Many thanks to the dancers who gave us a peek into their favorite parts of the Triangle!

We know we surely missed many awesome things about the region–tell us YOUR favorite dance spots or other things you love about the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill community in the comments or on our Facebook page! And send us your #dancelocal images for our photo contest–details here.


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