Photo by Robert Zimmerman

The Nasher Museum of Art collaborated with Duke Arts and Duke Health to present an unprecedented outdoor exhibition, RESIST COVID / TAKE 6!, by Carrie Mae Weems. The project emphasizes the disproportionate impact of the deadly virus on the lives of communities of color, through large-scale banners and window clings, posters, street signs, and more.
In November 2020, ADF sought submissions of original choreography by North Carolina dance artists to be a part of this project. We were looking for diverse artists and dance genres (solos, duos, or small groups) to perform original works in front of one of five selected RESIST COVID / TAKE 6! installations. The artists were asked to submit work, no longer than one minute in length, that complimented or responded to one of the chosen images/locations.
The work of the following dance artists has been chosen.

tanu sharma (video premieres 2/10/21)

Tanu Sharma was born and brought up in India and went to graduate school at NC State University. She is a computer science graduate and past software professional, currently pursuing dance and music full time. Tanu is trained in Contemporary and classical Indian dance.





ShaLeigh Comerford (Video premieres 2/17/21)

ShaLeigh Comerford is an Irish and Native American dancer, choreographer, and artistic director of ShaLeigh Dance Works based in Durham, NC. She is a graduate of Hollins University with a master’s degree in Visual and Performing Arts. Her choreography and commissions have been presented throughout the United States and abroad in venues such as the American Dance Festival, North Carolina Dance Festival, American Dance Guild Performance Festival, Dixon Place, Booking Dance Festival at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Judson Church, and Tokyo Experimental Festival of Sound, Art & Performance. She has been commissioned by Keio University, Washington & Lee University, Cirque USA, North Carolina Museum of Art, Arts Access, and Shannon Media Inc. She has received support from MAP, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Durham Arts Council, Symonds Family Foundation, and Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture. ShaLeigh is a recipient of the 2018 Ella Pratt Fountain Emerging Artist Award and the 2013 Institute of Contemporary Art and International Cultural Exchange Award. She has been an artist in residence at Azule, Wildacres, Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, Cambridge University, GlogauAIR, K77 Studio, and Dance Theatre Workshop. She currently serves as a panelist and grant reviewer as well as a speaker on dance accessibility and inclusion across the state. She teaches regularly at a variety of studios and is an adjunct professor at Elon University.


Laura Gutierrez (video premieres 2/24/21)

Laura Gutierrez is a performing artist and choreographer currently based in Winston- Salem, North Carolina. A graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, she received a BFA in Contemporary Dance from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she was awarded a William R. Kenan, Jr., Performing Arts Fellowship at Lincoln Center Education. Gutierrez has performed at the Biennale de la Danse de Lyon, BAM Next Wave Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Dance,Brisbane Festival and in museums such as The Menil Collection, Contemporary Arts Museum–Houston, the Fabric Workshop Museum, DiverseWorks and The Guggenheim -Works in Process. While her own choreography has been seen at Lincoln Center’s Clark Studio Theatre, CPR- Center for Performance Research,Dixon Place,Judson Church,Triskelion Arts, Sicardi Gallery, MATCH Houston, and CounterCurrent Festival. She performed works by Joan Jonas, Tino Sehgal and Jonah Bokaer Choreography, and has been named one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch.” In addition to performing she has taught Master Classes at University of Houston, Houston Community College, San Jacinto Community College, The Met Dance, UNCSA Summer Dance to name a few and she was on faculty at HSPVA Dance Department from 2011-2019. Most recently, she has shared her work at Museo Jumex in Mexico City and is currently an Artist In Residence with Dance Project,Inc Greensboro.


alyah baker, amanda edwards, and courtney liu (Video premieres 3/3/21)

Alyah Baker, Lee Edwards, and Courtney Liu are MFA candidates at Duke University. Alyah Baker is a multi-genre performer and educator exploring themes of identity, equity, and access in western concert dance. Lee Edwards is a dance-maker and poet whose research focuses on epigenetic trauma and movement. Courtney Liu is a choreographer, teaching artist, and performer whose work animates unapologetic embodiment and engaged artistic flow states. Their work together investigates ways that dance can enact freedom and facilitate connection in uncertain times.



kahlila brown (video premieres 3/10/21)

Kahlila Brown is a local dancer, choreographer, and educator from Durham, North Carolina. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a k-12 licensure from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (’19) and has settled back into her hometown since graduating. Her strong passion of dance is fueled by her desire to constantly learn, grow, and educate others.




Vania Claiborne & Nia sadler (video premieres 3/31/21)

Nia Sadler (Winston-Salem, NC) began training at Triple Threat DanCenter and Dancer’s Edge in Winston-Salem, NC. She continued her training at University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), where she completed a BFA in choreography and performance with disciplinary honors. There she studied contemporary, ballet, African diasporic dance, and jazz. Also during her time at UNCG, she performed in work by Ronald K. Brown, Clarice Young, Janet Lilly, Arnie Zane, and Bill T. Jones. Amid COVID-19 and an ongoing civil rights movement, Nia balances her time between performing arts and activism.


Vania Claiborne is from Charlotte, NC by way of Boston, MA. She holds her BFA in Dance Choreography and a minor in Business Entrepreneurship from The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.There she performed multiple works including Bolero by Keigwin+Company, Conversations by Nathan Trice, and Rubrics of Lace by Christal Brown. As a choreographer her work explores black dance aesthetics and modern dance techniques to give a contemporary voice to experiences intersecting ethics, society, and faith.





Kevin Higgins (video premieres 3/24/21)

Kevin Higgins was born in Durham, North Carolina. He started dancing at age 5, and over the past 10 years his passion for dance has been constantly growing. He studies modern, jazz, tap, and ballet at the Ballet School of Chapel Hill. He is also a member of the North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble (NCYTE), which has given him the opportunity to train with and perform choreography from many well known tap dancers including Michelle Dorrance, Dianne Walker, Jason Janas, Elizabeth Burke, and more. With NCYTE he has been able to perform around the East coast and educate school children about the history of tap dance. He has also performed with and choreographed for his local ballet company, Chapel Hill Dance Theatre, and has participated in Carolina Ballet’s Nutcracker. He has trained under many well known dancers and summer intensives and is excited to see where his love of dance will take him in the future.


solo artists Tony Johnson & jessica Wooten (video premieres 3/17/21)

Tony Johnson has performed in and choreographed over 300 dances. He has danced in works with renowned choreographers Clay Taliaferro, Chuck Davis, Anna Halprin, Heidi Lastky, and others. For over 30 years he has been a participant in the American Dance Festival and is a long-time friend of the Duke Dance Program. In 2014 Tony was a featured guest in the Triangle Dance Festival for AIDS, and also selected to present a talk focusing on his project “Embodying History Through Movement” for the Dancing the African American Diaspora Conference at Duke University. He has been featured in many newspapers and has engaged in many interviews focusing on his work and on his own journey of faith, spirituality, and community. He was recently invited to speak on “The State of Things” sharing his story as a gay man of faith as part of the Shadows Conference. Tony is also involved in the My Neighbor Ministry focusing on building relationships with the poor, the homeless community, and people living marginal lives.


Jessica Wooten was born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. She recently graduated from East Carolina University with a BFA in Dance with a concentration in performance and choreography, as well as a certificate in entrepreneurship. Jessi has attended the American Dance Festival in 2017 as well as in 2019, where she performed in Martha Graham’s “Dark Meadow Suite” at the Footprints Performance. She has also had the opportunity to study at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK in the summer of 2018. Jessica hopes to have the opportunity to move to New York City and pursue her dream of performing with a professional dance company.


The videos of the chosen works will be shown, one each week,
beginning February 10. Stay tuned!


For more information on the full RESIST COVID / TAKE 6! exhibition visit here.

“We’ve all been impacted by COVID-19. It’s an ecological health crisis of epic proportions — an international disaster,” Weems said, in a statement. “And yet we have indisputable evidence that people of color have been disproportionately impacted. The death toll in these communities is staggering. This fact affords the nation an unprecedented opportunity to address the impact of social and economic inequality in real time. Denial does not solve a problem. And I thought, ‘How can I use my art and my voice as a way of underscoring what’s possible and bring the general public into a conversation, into heightened awareness of this problem to better the community in which I live?’”