The American Dance Festival (ADF) is excited to announce the artists for its 2024 Made in NC program. Dom-Sebastian Alexis,
Iyun Ashani Harrison, Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen, and Stacy Wolfson and Curtis Eller will create four ADF-commissioned works, which will premiere at Reynolds Industries Theater on the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC, next summer.
Dom-Sebastian Alexis, a Greensboro native, is a Hip-Hop & Contemporary Juxtaposition Artist trained in various degrees of Street Dance, Social Grooves, and contemporary dance techniques. They have taught at major universities, performed nationwide, and facilitated workshops in England and Canada. Alexis is now the artistic director of the community project Gate City Grooves, teaching youths the true foundation of street culture. Most of their life has been devoted to understanding dance diversity, and they have adopted the concept of “Teaching as a student and learning as a professional.”
Iyun Ashani Harrison is the founder and artistic director of the Durham-based Ballet Ashani – A Contemporary Ballet, formerly Ashani Dances, and professor of dance at Duke University. Harrison collaborates with and presents the work of artists of color and women to expand racial and cultural diversity in ballet to attract new audiences. This is reflected in his most recent work, Giovanni’s Room. Harrison has been described as “an artist of diverse talents with sophisticated musical tastes and an understanding of how to use a bare stage to full effect” (The Seattle Times).
Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen are the co-founders of Stewart/Owen Dance, based in Western North Carolina, where they are dedicated to building a thriving dance community. As passionate cross-genre collaborators, they cultivate the craft of storytelling through movement while incorporating work by local writers, filmmakers, and musicians. Stewart and Owen’s “humorous, elegant, and wild” (Seattle Dances) choreography has been presented across the U.S.
Choreographer Stacy Wolfson and her collaborator Curtis Eller, a banjo player and songwriter, are the artistic directors of the Durham-based dance-theater company The Bipeds. Wolfson and Eller have devised a unique compositional approach “to blur modern dance, live music, and theater into a dreamlike unity, not to paste them into a simple collage” (Indy Week). Together, they also curate the dance and live music series Shadowbox Sessions.
ADF Director Jodee Nimerichter has been following the work of each of these artists for multiple years and is delighted to share their artistry with festival audiences. Nimerichter remarked, “NC artists are extremely important to our state. They not only bring beauty into our lives and push us to experience new things, but they provide a positive economic impact to the cities where they live.”
During the next eight months, the artists will each create a 15–20 minute dance work and have the opportunity to use up to 40 hours of rehearsal space at ADF Samuel H. Scripps Studios. ADF’s Production Manager, David Ferri, will design lighting for each new work that will be performed on a shared program as part of ADF’s 2024 season. The artists will also offer masterclasses to the public and ADF students. ADF will announce its entire season in March 2024, and tickets will go on sale through the Duke Box Office later in the spring.
Lead support for Made in NC is provided by a grant from The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation. Made in NC residencies at ADF Samuel H. Scripps Studios are made possible with support from the Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Foundation.
Throughout its 90-year history, the American Dance Festival (ADF) has been the home of an art form, attracting artists, audiences, and thousands of students from around the world. By preserving our modern dance heritage, promoting the creation of new works and collaborations, educating generations of dancers through intensive training programs, supporting artists at all stages of their careers, presenting live and screen dance to the public, and developing humanities and international exchange programs, ADF has served as a laboratory for experimentation and innovation. ADF was founded at Bennington College and moved to Connecticut College in 1948. For the past 46 years, ADF has taken pride in calling Duke University and Durham home. ADF also manages its first ever year-round facilities, the Samuel H. Scripps Studios, offering movement classes for students of all ages and abilities as well as choreographic residencies and outreach programs throughout the community.
Photo of Dom-Sebastian Alexis by Aura Marzkou
Photo of Iyun Ashani Harrison by Khalil Goodman
Photo of Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen courtesy of Stewart/Owen Dance
Photo of Stacy Wolfson and Curtis Eller by Pamir Kiciman