Ava LaVonne Vinesett

Ava LaVonne Vinesett

Associate Professor of the Practice in the Program in Dance

Director of Undergraduate Studies

External address: 2020 Campus Drive, Suite 209D, Durham, NC 27708
Internal office address: Box 90686, Durham, NC 27708-0686
Phone: (919) 660-3354
Email: ava@duke.edu

Overview

The transmission of danced legacies and the identification of their evolutionary presence in contemporary venues are the primary underpinnings of my artistic work. The physical articulation of cultural beliefs is the space from which I continue to research, choreograph, and perform in order to contribute to creating deeper expressions of the living art of African dance forms and their connection to personal/group identity. My research continues to examine how African and African-derived dance unfolds its many identities. Dance is an expression of perseverance and is a creative continuation of cultural mores. As a symbol of survival, dance both embodies and transmits traditions. These time honored, well established dances provide a means for present day access to, and direct experience with earlier traditions which oftentimes only exist in the context of dance related rituals. The unfolding identity of dance creates a framework for analyzing the aesthetic, technical, ceremonial, spiritual, and sacred tenets that layer traditional African and African-derived dance forms. This concept provides the foundation for several of my completed projects and it continues to shape the thematic content of present works. I coined the term “dance translator” to address my process of examining my personal voice in dance. Using my body as text, I am able to communicate an existing legacy of danced religious, spiritual, and cultural beliefs.

Education & Training

  • M.F.A., University of North Carolina at Greensboro 1998

  • B.A., North Carolina Central University 1987

Vinesett, Ava LaVonne, Riitta Rutanen Whaley, Cheryl Woods-Giscombe, Paul Dennis, Medina Johnson, Yin Li, Pline Mounzeo, Mabiba Baegne, and Kenneth H. Wilson. “Modified African Ngoma Healing Ceremony for Stress Reduction: A Pilot Study.Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (New York, N.Y.) 23, no. 10 (October 2017): 800–804. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2016.0410. Full Text

Vinesett, Ava L., Miurel Price, and Kenneth H. Wilson. “Therapeutic Potential of a Drum and Dance Ceremony Based on the African Ngoma Tradition.J Altern Complement Med 21, no. 8 (August 2015): 460–65. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2014.0247. Full Text

Vinesett, Ava LaVonne. “Motivating by Movement.” Duke Magazine, January 2004.

Vinesett, Ava LaVonne. “First Person: Artists Talk About Their Art.” Edited by Frances O. Dowell. Dream/Girl Magazine. Dream/Girl Magazine, n.d.

Kanyalang. Choreographer. (2019)

Abstract

Commissioned work for E. Gwynn and Dancers Company. In the Senegambia, Mandinka women establish support organizations to help address social conflicts. In this setting, women celebrate one another and demonstrate their female power as the source of life. As the women dance with ritual sticks symbolizing their creative energy, the men join their celebration as a sign of gratitude for the gift of life. Harrison Auditorium. North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC. Length 11minutes.

Restaginf of Yansã the Tempest. . Choreographer. (2019)

Abstract

Based on research of the Candomblé religion in Salvador da Bahia, Yansã, the only female orixá, or divinity represents transformation. Created for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Musical arrangement by: Richard J. Vinesett using traditional music of the Candomblé Orixas and West African dun-dun, influenced rhythms. Musicians: Beverly Botsford, Terry Lonergan, Caique Vidal, Richard J. Vinesett, (Musical Director). Costume Construction by Mabinti Shabu. Dancers: Bonita Joyce, Nicole Ross, Tria Smothers, Oesa Vinesett. Length 11 minutes.

Sisters. Choreographer. (2019)

Abstract

A new work for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Musicians: Richard J. Vinesett (musical director), Beverly Botsford, Wesley Williams, Oesa SaVionne Vinesett. Costumes by Gail Rouse. Dancers Bonita Joyce, Ife Michelle Presswood, Naomi Namjala Washington-Roque, Tria Smothers. Length, 10 minutes.

Sunu Reclamation. Choreographer. (2018)

Abstract

A new work for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Musicians: Richard J. Vinesett (musical director), Beverly Botsford, Wesley Williams. Costumes by Gail Rouse. Dancers: Setonji Agosa, Bonita Joyce, Anna Katz, Kalito Luna, Philip Moss, Victoria Prince, Nicole Ross, Tria Smothers.

Go to Water.. Choreographer. (2017)

Abstract

A new site-responsive work (Eno River) for Indigo Yard Gals.

Enter the Yard. Choreographer. (2016)

Abstract

A new site-responsive work for Indigo Yard Gals.

Initiation. Choreographer. (2016)

Abstract

Choreography and jun-jun drum composition for Duke student and community dancers to perform at the spring dance concert ChoreoLab 2016.

Breaking of the Storm. Choreographer. (2015)

Abstract

Choreographed for Duke student and community dancers to perform at fall dance concert November Dances 2015.

Bao. Choreographer. View on YouTube (2015)

Abstract

Choreographed for Duke student dancers to perform at the spring dance concert, ChoreoLab 2015. From the southeast of Guinea, West Africa, "Bao" highlights the permanent bonds created during initiation rites.

Kassa/Dundunba. Choreographer. (2014)

Abstract

Choreographed for Duke student dancers to perform at the fall dance concert, November Dances 2014.

Pages

Enter the Yard. Choreographer. (2016)

Abstract

A new site-responsive work for Indigo Yard Gals.

Jeffrey Page's "Talkin' Loud". Designer. (2012)

Abstract

Spring 2012

Costume Construction. Designer. (2010)

Abstract

Fall 2010

Maferefun Obatalá. Choreographer, Designer, Restager. (2009)

Abstract

"Maferefun Obatalá" was re-staged with an added section using rhythms from the Candomblé orixa, Oxumare. Created for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Percussionists: Beverly Botsford, Domingo B. Vinesett, Oesa S. Vinesett, Richard J. Vinesett (Musical Director ). Costumes: Ava LaVonne Vinesett. Length 12 minutes

Kanyalang. Choreographer. (2019)

Abstract

Commissioned work for E. Gwynn and Dancers Company. In the Senegambia, Mandinka women establish support organizations to help address social conflicts. In this setting, women celebrate one another and demonstrate their female power as the source of life. As the women dance with ritual sticks symbolizing their creative energy, the men join their celebration as a sign of gratitude for the gift of life. Harrison Auditorium. North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC. Length 11minutes.

Sisters. Choreographer. (2019)

Abstract

A new work for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Musicians: Richard J. Vinesett (musical director), Beverly Botsford, Wesley Williams, Oesa SaVionne Vinesett. Costumes by Gail Rouse. Dancers Bonita Joyce, Ife Michelle Presswood, Naomi Namjala Washington-Roque, Tria Smothers. Length, 10 minutes.

Restaginf of Yansã the Tempest. . Choreographer. (2019)

Abstract

Based on research of the Candomblé religion in Salvador da Bahia, Yansã, the only female orixá, or divinity represents transformation. Created for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Musical arrangement by: Richard J. Vinesett using traditional music of the Candomblé Orixas and West African dun-dun, influenced rhythms. Musicians: Beverly Botsford, Terry Lonergan, Caique Vidal, Richard J. Vinesett, (Musical Director). Costume Construction by Mabinti Shabu. Dancers: Bonita Joyce, Nicole Ross, Tria Smothers, Oesa Vinesett. Length 11 minutes.

Sunu Reclamation. Choreographer. (2018)

Abstract

A new work for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Musicians: Richard J. Vinesett (musical director), Beverly Botsford, Wesley Williams. Costumes by Gail Rouse. Dancers: Setonji Agosa, Bonita Joyce, Anna Katz, Kalito Luna, Philip Moss, Victoria Prince, Nicole Ross, Tria Smothers.

Enter the Yard. Choreographer, Designer. (2016)

Abstract

A new site-responsive work for Indigo Yard Gals.

Orange Again. Musician. (2013)

Abstract

Choreographed and performed "Orange Again" for Dance Program's spring concert ChoreoLab, with Ava LaVonne Vinesett.

Kanyalang. Choreographer. (2012)

Abstract

This piece will premiere in April 2013 and was set on the E Gwynn and Dancers Company for their annual main stage concert. The piece is based on the Mandinka women of the Senegambia. Mandinka women establish support organizations to help address social conflicts. In this setting, women celebrate one another and demonstrate their female power as the source of life. As the women dance with ritual sticks symbolizing their creative energy, the men join their celebration as a sign of gratitude for the gift of life.

Jeffrey Page's "Talkin' Loud". Designer. (2012)

Abstract

Spring 2012

Dancing with the Goddess. Narrator. (2011)

Abstract

documentary written and directed by Purnima Shah. Snow Hill Recording Studio. Hillsborough, NC.

Pages

Crossing the Color of the Sky. Choreographer. (2005)

Abstract

Visual installation by Cici Stevens. Bottle trees have long been used to guide wayward spirits. This African tradition became a part of Southern African-American practice. For some, the bottles petition benevolent, ancestral spirits for protection and good wishes. For others, the blue bottles protect families from tormented and dangerous souls. The spirits are lured by the beguiling radiance of the bottles and like the wind, the moan of these ancestral voices both agitate and calm. Created for the Duke African Repertory Ensemble. Length: 15 minutes

African Tech II, Nova Science. Performing artist. (2005)

Abstract

Nova Science filming of African Tech II with scientist/student, Eric Jarvis. Ark, Duke University

Enter the Yard. Choreographer. (2016)

Abstract

A new site-responsive work for Indigo Yard Gals.

Once on This Island. Choreographer. (2019)

Abstract

Musical by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty; directed by Sophie Caplin and featuring the Duke Players and Amandla Choir. Branson Theater. October 21-22, 27-29, 2019.

African Tech II, Nova Science. Performing artist. (2005)

Abstract

Nova Science filming of African Tech II with scientist/student, Eric Jarvis. Ark, Duke University

Pages