Ava LaVonne Vinesett
Associate Professor of the Practice in the Program in Dance
Director of Undergraduate Studies
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.
Passages. Choreographer. (1997)
43 students and community dancers from my technique I & II classes performing dances from the Mande traditions; Temate, Ekon-kon, Sorsonet, and Manjani. Music by Richard J. Vinesett, Bradley Simmons and community drummers. Length: 17 minutes.
Tulongo. Choreographer. (1997)
39 students from my technique I & II classes performing the dance style Soli. Music by Richard J. Vinesett, Greg Babb, Beverly Botsford, Vince Brown, Eric Gottesman, and Lynn Monson. Length: 18 minutes.
Cultural Journey IV: Back to the Roots. Choreographer. (1997)
A dance and music/choral concert for a cast of 37 performing artists. Co-produced by the Duke University Institute of the Arts and St. Josephâ€™s Historical Society/Hayti Heritage Center. Collaboration with musical director, Bradley Simmons and choral director, Boyd Gibson of the African-American Chorale. Additional vocals for the Orichas by Ama McKen and Randy Alston. Co-director, choreographer, and costume designer.
Sogolon’s Revenge. Choreographer. (1996)
Ensemble work for 6 dancers based on the griot’s legend of Sundiata, “The Lion King of Mali.” Traditional instruments by George Glenn. Vocals by Ava LaVonne Vinesett. Length: 11 minutes.
Eclipse. Choreographer. (1995)
Duet. Music: â€œMain Title,â€ â€œHarryâ€™s Game,â€ and â€œClosing Creditsâ€ from â€œPatriot Games Soundtrackâ€ by James Horner. Length: 12 minutes. (This work was re-staged in March 1998 for my thesis concert and in June 1998 for the American Dance Festival Faculty Concert).
student/faculty concerts for the Duke Dance Program. Choreographer, Performing artist. (1994)
Contributing choreographer and performer for student/faculty concerts for the Duke Dance Program, 1994-present, Duke University