COMPANY is a contemporary dance company based in Durham, NC. By utilizing both composition and improvisation, and reconsidering existing ideas about movement and content, the goal of artistic director Justin Tornow is to experiment with the formality of modern and contemporary dance. COMPANY is currently comprised of 4 dance artists developing and presenting new work at various local and regional performances.
Justin Tornow and COMPANY also present a recurring, multi-disciplinary artist series in Durham, NC called PROMPTS. For each event, a prompt is issued to the arts community: any artist can sign up to present a response to the prompt. PROMPTS events are open to the public by donation, and are meant to foster the creation of new work, collaboration, and to rally more community support for the area’s working artists.
COMPANY offers residencies, classes, and workshops in cross-discipline collaborations in dance, music, and visual art.
COMPANY is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas: all donations made through this link are tax deductible.
Justin Tornow is a North Carolina native currently located in Durham, NC. She is the artistic director of COMPANY, a producer of the local artist series PROMPTS, and a co-founder and co-organizer with Durham Independent Dance Artists (DIDA.) She collaborates regularly with visual artist Heather Gordon and musicians Matthew McClure and Lee Weisert on new and touring projects, and continues an international collaboration/exchange with prospect.dance.company artist, Jana Schmueck. Justin’s work has been presented by the UNC Process Series, the Sax Open Festival in Strasbourg, France, UGA-Cortona in Cortona, Italy, Triangle Dance Project, GSO Fringe Festival, DUMBO Dance Festival, CoolNY Festival, 2012 Philly Fringe, and the NC Dance Festival In 2015-2016, Justin was a guest artist for the Rainbow Dance Company and Enloe High School, and will be a guest artist at NC State University in Fall 2016. She is currently part-time dance faculty at UNC-Greensboro. Justin received an MFA in Choreography from UNC-Greensboro (2010,) lived and worked in NYC from 2010-2013, then relocated to Durham, NC in 2013.
Samantha Steffen was born in upstate New York and that is where her love of dance took flight. She began her learning at Empire Dance in Marcy, NY until she moved down to North Carolina in 1999. Samantha continued exploring all genres of movement throughout Raleigh and Durham including studying at the American Dance Festival in Durham, NC under the instruction of Sherone Price, Jeffery Bullock, and Brenda Daniels. She also spent a summer at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem working with Sean Sullivan, Trish Casey, and Frank Smith prior to being accepted into the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2007.
Emily Aiken is a MFA student in Choreography at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, where she received her BFA in Dance. Intrigued by the intricate relationship between body and mind, Emily studies Kinetic Awareness and psychophysical concepts in dance and choreography. Emily teaches movement in Greensboro and the surrounding areas, exploring collaborative teaching methods and challenging formulaic structures of dance technique disciplines. Complementary to her training at UNCG, Emily has trained at Broadway Dance Center, Luigi's Jazz Center NYC, and the American College Dance Festival. Emily has also received training from various experiences with companies and conventions such as being a multiple scholarship winner with Hoctor's Caravan Kid and The Professional Dance Teacher's Association, and by being a Dance Theatre USA Company Dancer and a member of the BalaSole Dance Company.
Austin Dixon is a dancer/acupuncturist/mother of two. She holds a BFA in Dance from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Masters of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in New York City. After undergrad, Austin moved to New York City where she danced for Jahna Bobolia, Notes in Motion, Alex Shillings, Ann Robideaux, and Stephanie Blackmon Woodbeck/Labor Force Dances. After 8 years in New York City, Austin and her family moved back to North Carolina where she had the pleasure of performing for Renay Aumiller, Stacy Wolfson, Eleanor Smith and now Justin Tornow. Austin spends most of her time with her two small children, practicing acupuncture, and counting down the minutes for her sweet husband to get home and help with their spirited kids. She is really excited to be dancing for Justin with all these other wonderful people!
Alexander Windner Lieberman is an authentic performance artist, video and projection artist, and live art curator. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a BA in theatre and a minor in dance, Alex moved to Brooklyn to pursue a professional career in performance. During this time he was involved in developing pieces for the dance companies Movement Assembly and Kinetic Architecture using his training in Butoh, contemporary dance, and authentic movement creation.
Alex relocated to Europe to create and perform in Magnifico, an innovative approach to the equestrian circus, in collaboration with Pilobolus and Andre Heller. In Belgium, he worked with world renowned contemporary choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkouai on the creation of Puz\zle. Alex was introduced to innovative projection work while on a European tour with Pilobolus’ Shadowland, an evening-length theatrical experience told through dance and shadow.
Interested in sharing his international experiences with an emerging arts community, Alex returned to his hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina to invest in local socially driven performance, movement, and extended video work.
Matthew McClure is the saxophone teacher and assistant director of bands in the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also coaches numerous saxophone chamber groups in the department, including the innovative “Town and Gown” saxophone quartet, which pairs his saxophone students with life-long performers and lovers of music from the community. McClure earned his Master of Music in Conducting and undergraduate degree in Music Education from The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. McClure began his teaching career in the public schools of Russell County, Kentucky, teaching elementary, middle, and high school bands. He has studied conducting with Gary Sousa and has studied saxophone with Jay Romines, Paul Haar, and Steven Stusek. He has performed as the winner of numerous concerto competitions and at the North American Saxophone Alliance National Conference. In the fall of 2009 was involved in the formation of the North Carolina Saxophone Ensemble, which combines professional saxophonists from across the state with highly enthusiastic and talented “amateur” musicians.
Lee Weisert is a composer of instrumental and electronic music whose recent compositional interests include physical (re)modeling, recursive structures, extended techniques, and microsound. His recent music has incorporated increasingly disparate elements such as orchestral instruments, found sounds, field recordings, digital synthesis, and analog circuitry, in an attempt to find, "through experimentation, tinkering, and unconventional approaches, a ritualistic and deeply expressive world of sound.” His instrumental music has been commissioned and performed by nationally recognized performers and ensembles, including Steve Schick and the red fish blue fish percussion ensemble, the Callithumpian Consort, the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE), the JACK string quartet, Wild Rumpus, Matthew McClure, Clara Yang, and the 4racas Ensemble. His electronic music deals with algorithmic and chaotic structures in multichannel spatialization, and has been presented at numerous national concerts and festivals, including SEAMUS (the Society for Electro-Acoustic Music in the United States, 2013), and the International Saxophone Symposium (2013). Along with composer Jonathon Kirk, he is a member of the Portable Acoustic Modification Laboratory (PAML), a collaborative sound installation team. PAML's most recent project, Cryoacoustic Orb, uses underwater microphones to capture the sounds of ice melting from within several large spheres of ice. PAML has been invited to present their sound installation work at festivals and venues across the country, including the New Interfaces for Musical Expression festival (NIME, 2009 & 2011) and the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC, 2010). Lee and Jonathon recently presented their work at the 2104 TEDx Conference at UNC-Chapel Hill. His music is published by New Focus Recordings. Wild Arc, his debut CD of original compositions, was released in 2014, and has been praised by critics as "dazzling" and "mind-melting." Wild Arc is available for purchase online from Amazon, iTunes, and the New Focus Recordings label site. He has degrees in music composition from the University of Colorado (BM, 2000), California Institute of the Arts (MM, 2004), and Northwestern University (DM, 2010), where his primary composition instructors were James Tenney, Michael Pisaro, Jay Alan Yim, and Chris Mercer. www.leeweisert.com
Heather Gordon maps people’s lives using numbers and geometry. Her current work focuses on the design of origami folding patterns using small data sets from her lifetime including residence locations, birthplaces of family members, and time durations.
Born in 1967, Heather is the daughter of an accountant and engineer. She received her B.F.A. from the University of Florida in 1990 and her M.F.A from New Mexico State University in 1995. In 2014, she was a recipient of a North Carolina Artist Fellowship through the North Carolina Arts Council. Heather is the 2015 winner of ArtPrize PITCH NIGHT Durham and will be exhibiting her installation project “Resting Place” in Grand Rapids this Fall. She lives and works in Durham, NC.
Erin Casanega-Wert is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer based out of the Triangle area. Erin studied dance and education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and currently lives in Chapel Hill. She is the dance educator at The Academy at Lincoln middle school and she teaches at the ArtsCenter in Carrboro during the summer. Erin has performed with the Naked Stark, LeahWilksDance, and is a current member of COMPANY.
Ronald West is graduate of the North Carolina State University / College of Design / School of Architecture and received a Bachelor’s Degree in 2007 for Environmental Design in Architecture. Ronald has danced professionally in modern dance works, both locally and nationally, under choreographers Diego Carrasco-Schoch, Kate Davis, Courtney Greer, Killian Manning and Michelle Pearson in association with the Continuum Collective, Dance Exchange and Black Box Dance. In 2011, Ronald founded the BLACK IRISH contemporary hip hop company.