The past three seasons from Durham Independent Dance Artists have exemplified creative experimentation. Some artists mounted multimedia collaborations in nontraditional venues; others prioritized work that passed the reins to audience members.

In its next season, beginning in October, DIDA is particularly interested in highlighting the ways different artists leverage risk in performance—and, as DIDA organizer Justin Tornow says, “strive toward balancing risk and excellence.”

So what will this look like? Among the 2017–18 artists, some names—Anna Barker, Ginger Wagg—are familiar from past seasons. Culture Mill’s Murielle Elizéon will present her first U.S. solo; Nicola Bullock, a DIDA founder based in Berlin, will return to show work in January. Several artists new to DIDA but well established in Durham are also included. One highlight: Ramya Kapadia’s Bharatanatyam-based Vande Mataram.

“Risk can really take several forms,” DIDA organizer Alyssa Noble says. (Lightsey Darst completes the organizing trio.) “Ramya Kapadia is [working within] a traditional Indian dance form in a less traditional space. For her, that risk looks different than for somebody like Anna Barker who … is doing a group work, which is taking a risk or a new angle in the way she’s going to be creating work this season.”

Since the beginning, DIDA has advocated for artists’ complete control over their work. Next March, however, we’ll see DIDA fully produce a split-bill evening featuring Winston-Salem-based artists Chris Yon and Taryn Griggs and an emerging Durham artist/group (for which applications will open soon).

Also in the spring, DIDA will partner with Michael Kliën, a Duke professor of dance, for an iteration of his project “Excavation Sites.” Once a month, local dance artists are invited to Duke’s Ark Dance Studio to “have independent practice, together,” Tornow said.

On the audience side, DIDA will offer artists, per a recent press release, “standard front of house protocols” in order to “help audience members feel at home in these adventurous works.” DIDA also promises more visibility across media channels.

Both efforts are part of a larger focus on dance education and outreach. Starting this fall, DIDA will host gatherings at Bar Brunello on the Wednesday following a show’s close. Local writers and curators will loosely facilitate conversations about the work. This model offers a corrective to the post-performance discussion, a format which both Noble and Tornow agree doesn’t give audiences enough time to process the work and can be alienating for those who don’t feel well-versed in dance. These downtown gatherings aim to promote “a communal sharing of ideas that isn’t validation seeking,” Noble said.

“We are hoping this will land in our community,” Tornow said. “I think there are enough people interested in being able to talk more about dance.”

The full season as described in a press release is as follows:

DIDA Season Launch Party and Performance
October 7, 2017, 7-9 p.m.
Unscripted Hotel pool deck
Join DIDA at Unscripted’s Patio to launch our fall season with brief performances from DIDA artists, with a DJ to follow.

Killian Manning: Uncle Sam Wants YOU!
November 1–5, 2017
Living Arts Collective
Inspired by the madness of current politics, Manning’s latest dance-theater piece, Uncle Sam Wants YOU!, promises an evening of barnstorming patriotism, spine-tingling treason, and plenty of spangly stars in between.

Murielle Elizéon: Brown
December 2-3, 2017
Living Arts Collective
Dance artist and Culture Mill organizer Murielle Elizéon explores her identity as a French,brown woman in a new evening-length solo. In this collision of the lingering allure of gender and racial stereotypes, Elizéon uses personal history to explore heritage, violence against women,loss, vulnerability, and resilience.

ShaLeigh Comerford: I Promise
December 15-17, 2017
Venue TBA
A highly physical dance-theater work evoking themes of rioting and rebellion, I Promise questions how we define our tribe, what connects us, what separates us, how we interact with it,and how we inevitably long to defeat it.

Nicola Bullock: Imago
January 2018
Venue TBA
DIDA founder and dance-theater artist Nicola Bullock returns to Durham with a new
one-woman show that reckons with the distance between what we are and what we believe ourselves to be. Inspired by Greek mythology, Impressionist paintings, and golden era movies, Imago proposes a world in which truth and illusion are inseparable.

Aya Shabu: What do you do with your Dead?::Hayti|Haiti|History
February 23-24, 2018
The Hayti Heritage Center
Springing from her walking tours of Hayti, Aya Shabu’s What do you do with your Dead?::Hayti|Haiti|History brings Durham’s untold black history to dynamic life.

Murielle Elizéon: An Evening of Dance
Featuring Chris Yon & Taryn Griggs and a Durham artist/group TBA
March 2–3, 2018
Venue TBA
Yon & Griggs present their tightly knit, idiosyncratic duo work alongside a Durham artist/group that DIDA will select for DIDA’s first split-bill evening.

Ginger Wagg: Frivolous Artist
March 2018
Venue TBA
Through ordinary actions, extraordinary disjunctions, and a little destruction, Wagg explores the precarious state of being normal—mostly solvent but still on the edge, mostly stable while still utterly confused, mostly successful while still not making a “living,” mostly comfortable but hustling every day.

Ramya Kapadia: Vande Mataram
April 2018
Venue TBA
A common saying in India, vande mataram — “I bow to my mother” — evokes love for the land. In a moment of crisis, Ramya Kapadia calls on the resources of the ancient dance form Bharatanatyam to remind us that whatever our creed, we belong to the earth first.

Anna Barker: Again, but this time with feeling
June 9–10 and 16–17, 2018
Living Arts Collective
In a new group work, Anna Barker applies her signature dance-theater style to the ever-present fear of failure.

The Bipeds: 54 Strange Words
June 22–23 and 29–30, 2018
Venue TBA
A hallucinatory landscape of dreams where language fails: choreographer Stacy Wolfson and banjo player/songwriter Curtis Eller tread among the shadows of a nightmare in a new cross-disciplinary dance work.