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Vulnerability and intimacy subverted. Darling redirects assumptions about the correlations between strength, power, gender, and size.

The Latest Update

We premiered DARLING last month. Thank you to New Music USA for your support!

Posted on April 22, 2020 by Helen Simoneau


Choreography: Helen Simoneau

Original Music: Mary Kouyoumdjian

Dramaturgy: Melanie George

Costume Design: Quinn Czejkowski 

Lighting Design: David Ferri

Performance: Marielis Garcia, Donovan Reed, Gianna Theodore, Carlo Antonio Villanueva, Claire Westby


Photos by Peter Mueller

More Updates ▼


Posted on January 13, 2020 by Helen Simoneau

Looking forward to sharing this new work in March.

Tickets are now available at https://rhodesartscenter.org/darling/


In Darling, choreographer Helen Simoneau will be working collaboratively with composer, Mary Kouyoumdjian, and dancers, Marielis Garcia, Donovan Reed, Gianna Theodore, Carlo Antonio Villanueva, and Claire Westby to construct an evening-length piece to premiere at the Hanesbrands Theatre, March 5 & 6, 2020. Darling is being created through multiple residencies at the University of Buffalo, UNC School of the Arts, and at NYU/Tisch. 


Program Note by Dramaturg Melanie George:

DARLING, the title of this work, is a term of endearment on its face, but like honey, doll-face, sweetheart, and the purposefully double-edged “bless your heart” it can be wielded for other purposes.  Out of the wrong mouth, babe  and similar words can warp from endearment to  terms of bondage. This space between intent and impact is at the heart of DARLING. In spite of the connotation of the title, tonight’s work has no sweetness. Any lightness in the piece is purely physical, derived the virtuosity of the dancers’ bodies encounters with space. DARLING is concerned with the intersection of intimacy and agency. Its recurring themes – contact and the exchange of power – winnow through the work like smoke, alternating between engulfing the action or lingering, like a suggestion.  DARLING centers on motion over emotion, but not at the expense of humanity and affect. Like real-world relationships, the dynamics between the performers adapt continuously. Agency is not always as it seems, as resultant power slithers between movers often within the space of a weight shift,  a touch on the shoulder, or a meeting of the eyes. There is a nuanced understanding about human interaction here, investing in resultant relationships over performative melodrama. Simoneau’s choreography imbues the spaces between movements with a tension that revels in the proposition that the end is prologue for the next moment. This is not a work of impulse. There are choices being made by the choreographer and dancers at every turn, tilt, and balance.


Photography: Olly Yung with Creative Direction: Eli Gray

Project Media

Paper Pianos
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Features: Mary Kouyoumdjian

You Are Not a Kid is the first movement of Paper Pianos written by Mary Kouyoumdjian and performed by Alarm Will Sound on July 30, 2016 at the Mizzou International Composers Festival. Kouyoumdjian’s work is emotional and personal while it brings others’ stories to the forefront. A passage beginning at 2:30 will weave Kouyoumdjian’s sound with Milad Yousufi, an Afghan refugee’s, words. “Intensely moving, boldly beautiful, this could be the future of a new kind of documentary that’s told primarily through music.” -Santa Barbara Independent

Land Bridge

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Features: Helen Simoneau

Choreographed by Helen Simoneau with featured performers and with music by Nathalie Joachim, Land Bridge was performed in March 2016 at the Hanesbrands Theatre and awarded the New Music USA grant. Here you will see how Joachim’s sound and Simoneau’s movement inform identity. “The metaphor of migration and identity is very clear in certain parts…and other sections transcend metaphor, playing with the energies of momentum and falling.”–Triad City Beat

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Features: Helen Simoneau

In rehearsal in Summer 2018, here is a preview of Darling. Choreographer Helen Simoneau discusses how dancers Burr Johnson and Claire Westby move beyond gender to examine relationship. Music is by Daniel Bindschedler.

Start and End Dates



Winston-Salem, North Carolina

2 updates
Last update on April 22, 2020

Project Created By

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Helen Simoneau (Choreographer/Director) is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and current New York City Center Choreography Fellow. Originally from rural Québec, Simoneau has been recognized as “a Choreographer-on-the-rise” by Dance Magazine. She has received  commissions from The Juilliard School, Oregon Ballet Theatre, the Ailey School, BalletX, the American Dance Festival, among others. She was a resident…

In Collaboration With

Brooklyn, New York
Hudson, New York
Lighting Designer
Jackson Heights, New York


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