Since Durham Independent Dance Artists began curating, promoting, and supporting an annual performance season in 2014, participation in independent dance in Durham has grown by leaps and bounds, on both sides of the ticket stand—a feat in which DIDA, though far from alone among emerging support organizations, played an undeniably large role.

Though DIDA does not fully fund or traditionally present the works in its season, bundling short-run, off-map, self- or crowd-funded dance shows into a season that tracks with the academic presenters has consolidated disparate local dance artists while lending their work a sense of legibility and legitimacy. This has attracted new media attention and, we can attest as regular attendees, unusually large audiences for unusual dance in unusual spaces.

In short, as DIDA accurately has it in a press release, “The Durham dance community has gone from a scrappy, disjointed scene with big ambitions and little structure to a burgeoning professional community with a roster of experienced working artists and an array of support organizations.”

But with growth and professionalization come new challenges, especially for an organization centered on a downtown area undergoing dizzying development. DIDA, which usually schedules its season from fall through spring, will wait until January 2019 to begin its fifth season. This period, dubbed “Open DIDA,” will be used to “think through some of the entrenched problems in our community—chiefly, a lack of funding, critical conversation, and audience integration,” according to the press release.

During this time, the community is invited to contact DIDA’s Lightsey Darst, Alyssa Noble, and Justin Tornow at to weigh in on how they can best support Durham dance artists and audiences. DIDA also says it plans to add resources previously available only to its artists—production strategies, press contacts, and so on—to its website for general use.

If DIDA is working toward structural and contextual changes, its core aesthetic appears fully intact for season five, with familiar local performers (reshuffling into some intriguing new groupings) creating new works in various non-auditorium sites.

Renay Aumiller, making her third DIDA appearance, will collaborate with Culture Mill’s Murielle Elizéon and Tommy Noonan, among others. We saw Kristin Clotfelter dance with cardboard boxes in this year’s Tobacco Road showcase. Noise-dance trio Paideia gave a memorable performance at Threehouse Studios in the last DIDA season. Jasmine Powell returns from season two, while Alyssa Noble and Allie Pfeffer were seen in a DIDA show just a couple of months ago.

The fullest details available about the performances are copied from DIDA’s press release below; look for a future INDY story exploring the issues Open DIDA will address.

5 for 5: 5 New Dance Experiences for DIDA’s 5th Season

Renay Aumiller: RAW
with Murielle Elizéon, Megan Mazarick, Tommy Noonan, Matthew Young, and others
The Fruit
January 11-13
RAW invites audiences behind the curtain, giving an inside view of some of the Triangle’s most fascinating dancemakers as they create new solos for themselves.

Kristin Clotfelter / Studio C Projects: On You
Monkey Bottom Collaborative
March 2019
On You requests your participation. Dance artist Kristin Clotfelter reimagines the investments between audience and performers by building live feedback loops between movement and reaction. An ensemble of performers and designers create an interactive framework, harnessing shared responsibility to support a fresh performance each night. A ticket to On You is your RSVP to a reception-style event that invites you to contribute your perception to the menu.

Venue TBA
April 2019
Dance/noise/ritual trio Paideia raises the question, “Who gets to belong?”, turning over moral superiority, inclusion/exclusion, boundaries, borderlines, and the community body. Who is allowed, and who is silenced? Who thrives, and who is disposable? What is accountability, and who deserves it? The piece will evolve as a spontaneous sonic and gestural conversation among Paideia and several guest artists.

Jasmine Powell: Approximation of a Woman
Hayti Heritage Center
May 2019
In her second DIDA appearance, Jasmine Powell brings four portraits of black women—misunderstood, overlooked—to life. Using blues, poetry inspired by Tiffany Austin, and lush dance, Powell goes inside their protest and their constant becoming.

A+A: Don’t Get Any Ideas, Little Lady
Venue TBA
June 2019
In Don’t Get Any Ideas, Little Lady, A+A (Alyssa Noble and Allie Pfeffer) and a motley crew of femme-identifying humans throw salt in the wound of male fragility. Their scathing critique clears the ground for audience and performers to build new forms of dignity and power.

And two special presentations:

David Norsworthy
February 8-9
Venue TBA
Culture Mill and DIDA team up to present Toronto-based Canadian choreographer David Norsworthy. The performance will be part of Norsworthy’s month-long residency with Culture Mill in Saxapahaw, and will draw on conversations and collaborations with local artists, including Ginger Wagg, Murielle Elizeon, CJ Suitt, Tommy Noonan, and Monet Marshall, around the theme of artistic motivation and responsibility. Norsworthy is a graduate of The Juilliard School, and performs professionally in Canada, the USA, Sweden and Australia.

Ramya Kapadia: Vande Mataram (reprise)
Date and venue TBA
You blinked and you missed it last year—so we’re bringing back 2018’s Vande Mataram, a powerful meditation on how the love of country can lead to hate. Kapadia uses bharatanatyam’s expressive range to bring viewers along on an intense emotional journey.