The ‘courageous process of creation’ unites through dance with ‘E Pluribus Unum II’

Members of Triangle-based ShaLeigh Dance Works perform "E Pluribus Unum II," which runs June 15 and 16 in Durham. Photo by Ryan Pham

Years spent as student and teacher have turned into a fruitful collaboration for Triangle choreographer ShaLeigh Comerford and her mentor Elizabeth Corbett. Comerford’s company ShaLeigh Dance Works will bring Comerford and Corbett’s “E Pluribus Unum II” to life in downtown Durham from June 15 to 16. Tickets to the event at Durham Arts Council are $15 and can be purchased here.

Although she’s danced across the globe, Corbett is no stranger to Durham. She has been an American Dance Festival faculty member since 2006 thanks to her impressive resume that includes dancing with the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago and the Frankfurt Ballet in Germany.

“We acknowledged how much we have learned from each other and after years of studying and performing under her, we have grown into a rich friendship with a keen interest in each others’ creative process,” Comerford said.

“E Pluribus Unum II” shares the same theme as ShaLeigh Dance Works’ “I Promise,” which ran in Durham in December 2017.

The work focuses on “the oneness out of many as a response to both the polarization we have felt as a nation as well as how the courageous process of creation unites us,” according to a press release from ShaLeigh Dance Works.

If you attend “E Pluribus Unum II,” you’ll even get a taste of “I Promise” when the company performs an excerpt.

[Related post: Read about how Comerford’s "I Promise” came together]

The work also features an original score composed and performed live by pianist Alejandro Santoyo.

Comerford started ShaLeigh Dance Works (“ShaLeigh” is pronounced like “Raleigh”) in 2005 with a premiere in Greensboro. She decided to restart it in 2014 (between moving to New York City in 2006 and traveling to countries from Belgium to Japan honing her craft, she didn’t have much time).

Comerford grew up in Roanoke, Virginia — where she was choreographing her siblings at the age of 6! — and earned a master’s in visual and performing arts from Hollins University, also in Roanoke. Durham, though, has always had a special place in her heart.

“The American Dance Festival is phenomenal,” she said. “I got a great education from them and have been a part of the six-week dance school numerous times.”

Now she’s ready to show more of what she’s learned with “E Pluribus Unum II.”

ShaLeigh Dance Works presents “E Pluribus Unum II”

A World Premiere collaboration with Elizabeth Corbett and Alejandro Santoyo

Where: The Durham Arts Council’s PSI Theatre, 120 Morris Street, Durham
When: June 15 and 16 at 7 p.m.
Cost: Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.
More info: Learn more here.

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