Creative Team

Poetry, Sculptures, Dance Concepts – Coke Ariail

Choreography – ShaLeigh Comerford

The Dances will be created by ShaLeigh Comerford of ShaLeigh Dance Works in collaboration with Coke Ariail

All Sculptures are the work of Coke Ariail

ShaLeigh Dance Works, under the artistic leadership of ShaLeigh Comerford, was founded in 2005 with a premiere of Returning at the Broach Theater in Greensboro, NC. Since then, the intimate ensemble ranging from 2 to 6 performers has toured their growing repertory worldwide.

Photo of ShaLeigh Comerford

ShaLeigh Comerford received a Masters degree in Visual and Performing Arts from Hollins University as well as a Bachelor’s with honors in Painting and Poetry. She began her formal dance training on scholarship with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre in VA. She also trained on scholarship under numerous master teachers at the American Dance Festival. Comerford continued her training in NYC and at P.A.R.T.S in Brussels, Belgium. In addition, Comerford was personally invited to train in the Gaga movement language with Ohad Naharin and the Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Israel for their inaugural teacher training program.

Comerford’s professional dance career began with the Roanoke Ballet Theatre where she performed and toured principal roles with the company from 2000-04. She relocated to NYC in the fall of 2005 where she performed as a member of Tina Croll & Company and apprenticed with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Comerford left New York in 2009 to perform leading roles with the Virginia Ballet Academy. Ms. Comerford has also performed guest roles with Keigwin & Company, the Dendy Dance Theater, Carolina Ballet, Martha Clarke, as well as a restaging of Batsheva Dance Company’s Minus Sixteen and an Official Music Video for Blind by Christian Loffler. Comerford continues to perform and choreograph internationally with Cirque USA.

In 2005, Comerford founded ShaLeigh Dance Works.  The company made a successful New York debut receiving a standing ovation at Judson Memorial in May of 2007. She was featured as an emerging New York choreographer at Chen Dance Center’s 2007 new steps series and was a recipient of Dance Theatre Workshop’s 2007-2008 Creative Residency. Most recently, the company was selected for the North Carolina Dance Festival’s 2013-14 season tour offering performances and master classes throughout the state.

Comerford’s choreography and commissions have been presented throughout the United States and abroad, most notably at Tokyo Wonder Site Shibuya, Keio University’s Noguchi Room, The Week of Foreign Female Dancers in Tokyo, Cambridge University, Serendipity Gallery Berlin, The Ailey Citygroup Theatre, Washington and Lee University, The American Dance Guild and The Flea Theater. Most recently her contemporary choreography The Within was selected by the World Ballet Competition International to be featured alongside of Momix and several other award-winning dancers and choreographers in the 2014 Gala.

She has been a guest teacher for Even Yehuda Dance [Israel], Virginia School of the Arts [VA], Sadie Nash University [NY] and Purelements Center of Artistic Refinement [NY]. She is currently adjunct faculty at Elon University and Faculty at Legacy Studios for the Performing Arts, Ninth Street Dance and Campaneria Ballet.

Please visit the ShaLeigh Dance Works site for more information:


Coke Ariail – Ariail Images

Now in his seventh decade, Coke Ariail has been making art in many forms as an actor, director, painter, sculptor, poet, photographer, designer, and writer all of his adult life.

Photo of William Coke Ariail III

With his Masters work in Theatre and a strong background in art, he spent most of his life professionally in Television and video production.  But along the way he has also climbed telephone poles as a telephone contract installer, worked in construction, build a sailboat cradle for his grandson and a sailing dingy for himself, restored his current twenty five foot sailboat, build and renovated houses, designed, built, and painted stage sets, designed stage lighting and made video recruiting shows for over fifty colleges throughout the country.  During the seventies at a time when there was no theatre in Durham that produced alternative theatre and new work by local artist, he helped found, and ran Pocket Theatre, a small theatre in Durham dedicated to presenting both original plays, experimental work and newer dramatic work.

He has worked as a television executive, both locally in Durham and nationally with the Department of Veterans Affairs in Washington, D.C. where he served in many roles, including as an on-camera host.  In his final years there he produced, wrote, and directed the nationally distributed, Emmy Award winning show, “The American Veteran.”  During his three-year tenure as producer of The American Veteran the show won two Emmy awards, three gold Aurora awards, one Platinum Aurora, two Bronze Telly and three Silver Telly awards.

He began his work in the arts as a theatre director and a photographer, later moving on to develop his skills as a video cameraman, then as a video and television director and eventually moving into the role of producer.

He has written poetry all of his adult life, and has written over two hundred poems over the years. He has a newly completed novel, and has written and starred in a one-man play.  In the nineties when video first began to be able to move out of the studio he began to create video poems as a new way to present his poetic work.

In his role as Producer Mr. Ariail has produced over 100 video tape and television shows.  In his role as director he has directed 25 theatrical productions, at least a hundred video shows, numerous local commercials, television shows and satellite telecasts as well as legal settlement videos.

As a writer Mr. Ariail has written local television commercials, slide and video recruiting shows, capital campaign videos, product promotional videos, educational videos, press releases, sales brochures, plays and poetry.

Working as a Photographer Mr. Ariail has photographed college catalogues, recruiting slide shows theatre posters and performances, and sales brochures.

As a designer he has designed sets and lighting for over 30 theatrical productions, designed and produced over 30 theatrical posters, as well as designed and produced numerous publicity brochures.

For the last three years he has returned to an early love of bamboo as a material and has created an ongoing series of Bamboo Sculptures.  He is now looking to expand his vision by creating an entire bamboo environment to help illustrate his poem Bamboo Wind and to create a live multi-media work that incorporates and fuses work from all of the areas in which he has worked and culminates in an evening length dance concert.