Written by Anabelle Scarborough for digital magazine Looks Attached
'Artists Grow At OM'
DURHAM, N.C. — Courtney OM (Owen-Muir) is a go-getter. A successful business owner, dance instructor and artistic director, OM has transformed the landscape of performing arts in the Durham community.
OM moved to Durham, N.C, from Toronto, Canada in 2015. Soon after, she founded Threehouse Studios, a boutique drop in dance, yoga, and conditioning studio in downtown Durham. Now, she’s a co-owner and dance director, and she teaches weekly classes at Threehouse in addition to various studios in the Triangle.
"I absolutely love having this platform in the Durham dance community which allows for individuals to come in and experience movement at any stage of their exploration,” Om said. “I believe it is important to support new movers as it is to support season professionals. Movement is a life force within all of us that needs to be free and shared.”
“OM” is the umbrella term for her dance companies. She founded the renowned dance company, OM Grown Dancers, in 2016.
“When I first came to the United States, Courtney ‘OM’ somehow came to light,” she said. “I had something deep inside me that was waiting to come out.”
The next year, the OM Still Growing junior company was formed. They’re entering their fifth season of dancing and sharing compelling personal stories with the Durham community through movement.
“The OM Grown Dancers brand has become a dynamic and well-nourished community, for the community,” OM said. “We have always been community based, and believe in nourishing the soil we stand on.”
Since its inception, the OM brand has expanded tremendously and at a significant rate, keeping the community at its core. Furthermore, OM established the OM Summer Intensive Program in recent years in addition to TRAIN, a newly established contemporary training program at Threehouse Studios.
The annual OM Grown Dancers Summer Intensive Program, is a two-week long high intensity and creatively demanding workshop for young dancers ages 14 and up. The intensive provides a safe space for dancers to grow in a pre-professional environment. Furthermore, The OM Grown Dancers fund 10 dancers to attend that wouldn’t otherwise be able to do so.
TRAIN was formed in the fall of 2020 as a pre-professional contemporary focused training program to help young dancers take their skills to the next level. OM brought together a professional faculty like no other to teach this intensive program. Dancers train 36 hours a month in contemporary, jazz and technique, and they absorb from these styles from industry professionals.
“Courtney is absolutely amazing,” Sarah Balkus, an OM Still Growing dancer, said. “Her hard work and dedication toward making the OM Grown Dancers the best they can be is evident in everything she does.”
OM has successfully created a hub for the Durham community to learn, grow, and delve into their creativity. With Threehouse Studios and OM Grown Dancers, OM is living the dream.
“I’ve been able to redefine who I am as an artist and my role in my immediate community,” OM said. “In Durham, I feel like someone. My existence feels important here.”
OM’s impact is seen through her dancers’ experiences. Her company is comprised of 7 movers: Alston Tyndall, Briana Cooper, Hannah Nicole Marr, Marsha Thomas, Raquelle Pollock, Stazia Rich and Teigha Beth Bailey.
“Courtney always gives me chances, even when I don’t necessarily deserve them,” dancer Raquelle Pollock said. “She believes the best in me and everyone else.”
OM has weekly rehearsals with her dancers that blossom with energy and passion and a family-like love that is unparalleled.
“Courtney inspires me because she pushes my boundaries both physically and mentally,” dancer Hannah Nicole Marr said.
OM is unsure of what her future holds, but she hopes that the OM Grown Dancers and Threehouse Studios will stay in her life as long as they can. Her ultimate goal is to create work for a year, perform it for the Durham community, and then take it on the road.
With COVID-19 having a particularly large impact on the dance community, OM has had to pivot in her plans for the companies’ touring. The company was set to take a condensed evening length work of the trilogy on tour to Germany in the fall of 2021.
“Germany is not out of the question permanently, but this new season has presented positively challenging and creatively demanding opportunities for the company,” OM said.
In pivoting the performance platforms and outlook for the company, OM has partnered with local videographer and media designer Anabelle Scarborough to create virtual experiences and performances accessible to everyone during these unprecedented times. They will be presenting photographs and multimedia films on their instagram platforms during the OM Grown Dancers fifth season, “Flourish.”
“This is the ultimate dream,” OM said. “Being able to do what I absolutely love, every single day, and being able to touch as many lives as I do.”
Video Stills captured by Anabelle Scarborough