Sourcing Spirit and Sweat: Black Women Embodied Aesthetics

The Duke Dance Program presents this one-day conference and symposium bringing five women choreographers/pedagogues to explore embodied aesthetics from the place of sweat and spirit of Black women in motion.

This first of its kind one-day event includes morning classes by Michelle Gibson (New Orleans), Michelle Grant Murray (Miami), and Dr. L’Antoinette Stines (Jamaica) each working in their unique dance aesthetic.

Lunch will be provided and followed by a panel featuring Gibson, Grant Murray, Stines, Woods Valdés and special guest dance-scholar Jasmine Johnson (virtual). 


Open to the public/Registration required


March 26, 9:00am-3:00pm
Rubenstein Arts Center


8:30 -8:55 AM – Registration/Breakfast snacks 
9-10:15 – Michelle Grant Murray, (Olujimi Dance Technique) Ruby 224

10:15-11:30 – Michelle Gibson, (The Original Buckshop) Ruby 224
11:30-12:45 – L’Antoinette Stines, (L’Antech, Caribbean Modern Dance) Ruby 224
Lunch 12:45-1:15 – Ruby Lounge (1st Floor)
1:15-3 Symposium Panel, Gibson, Grant Murray, Stines, Jasmine Johnson, and Woods Valdés, Ruby 202





Jasmine Elizabeth Johnson

Jasmine Elizabeth Johnson is a scholar-practitioner and an Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work explores the politics of Black movement including dance, performance and diasporic travel. Johnson's interdisciplinary research and teaching are situated at the intersection of diaspora theory, dance and performance studies, ethnography, and Black feminisms. Johnson has received a number of fellowships and grants including those from the Ford Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Her first book project, Rhythm Nation: West African Dance and the Politics of Diaspora, is a transnational ethnography on the industry of West African dance. Her work has been published by The Black Scholar, The Drama Review, ASAP Journal, Dance Research Journal, Africa and Black Diaspora: An International Journal, Theatre Survey, Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, Aster(ix) and elsewhere. She serves as a Board Director for the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance.


Michelle N. Gibson – Gibson’s Second Line (Buckshop) “New Orleans Second Line Aesthetic” involves both structured and improvised movement, brass music and the idea of communal ritual choreographically traced to Africa, through the Caribbean, into Congo Square, and New Orleans. Gibson’s course is designed for students to embody both informal settings and processions. Defined movement, musical instrumentation of brass band composition, and the improvisations of community are all central aspects of her Second Line Aesthetic processing from Africa, through the Caribbean, and into Congo Square through an exploration of New Orleans dance history. In the summer of 2022Gibson was invited to be Grand Marshal for the Ascona Jazz Festival in Switzerland where she led Second Line parades with the community and conducted teaching workshops. Gibson was honored, as an alumnus, to be a part of the esteemed Jacob’s Pillow 90th Anniversary Season performing her one-woman show Taken’ It To The Roots. Gibson received her BFA in Dance from Tulane University and her MFA from Hollins University/American Dance Festival. Gibson is a consummate storyteller, employing body and mind to build a bridge between the arts and academia. On stage and in the classroom, Gibson’s dance, choreography, and associated scholarship evoke the social, political, economic, and spiritual understandings central to building bonds within and across cultures. Employing pedagogical practices deeply rooted in both her New Orleans upbringing and the Black church, Gibson provides cultural narratives and historical context for diasporic and African American dance forms, music, and communal gatherings. 


Michelle Grant Murray - Olujimi Dance Technique - a unique blend of contemporary and traditional modern dance styles infused with elements of African Diaspora Dance Movement forms, designed to chop at the core of physicality. The aim of this process is to develop the physical, mental and intellectual body from a humanistic perspective; a perspective that values humanity, individuality, creativity and inventiveness.
Grant-Murray is a choreographer, educator, author, scholar, performer and Artistic Director of Olujimi Dance Theatre,  earned a BS degree in Dance Education (Jacksonville University), MA degree in African Studies (Florida International University) and MFA degree in Choreography (Jacksonville University). Michelle has presented work throughout Europe, Asia, South America, the United States and the Caribbean. She is Associate Professor Sr.  and Coordinator of Dance at Miami Dade College, Artistic Director of Jubilation Dance Ensemble. She is the founder and  host of The Black Artist Talk, Founder and Executive Director of the Artistry In Rhythm (A.I.R.) Dance Conference, Co-Founder of Florida Black Dance Artists Organization  and author of Beyond the Surface: An Inclusive American Dance History,  Her practice is centered around Olujimi Dance Technique, a blend of contemporary and traditional modern dance styles infused with elements of African Diaspora Dance Movement forms. Michelle has developed a unique choreographic process, Ancestral Dance Movement Memory (ADMM), a movement form that seeks to go beyond the collective memory of the present physical body and utilize  the ecology of spirituality to reveal the essence of human nature. She is a Knights Arts Champion. Currently, Michelle is researching the performative intersections of Eco-feminism, Ecology,  and Sustainability of the Black Female Body. 


Dr. L’Antoinette Stines (L’Antech Technique) Osunide Stines is an artisticdirector, imagineer, dancer, choreographer, actress, teacher/lecturer, administrator, author and visionary. Creator of L’Antech, a CARIMOD (Caribbean Modern Dance) technique, Dr. Stines continues to impact on the direction and future of Caribbean dance. Possessing the experience that comes from many years and many lives, Dr. Stines has a long and varied performing history ranging from classical ballet to Yoruba “Orisha” dance. Her dance career began in Jamaica with Alma Mok Yen (1961-71), continued to the Martha Graham School and finally through to Pepsi Bethel Authentic Jazz Dance Company (1975-77) and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (1977-78). Regarded as an expert in popular, folkloric Jamaican dance and the development of contemporary dance, Dr. Stines has lectured in Africa, the Caribbean, Europe, and North and South America. Using L’ACADCO as her canvas, Dr. Stines’ choreographic work is inspired by the virility of her island’s culture and ancestry, the sensuality of its people and the natural mystic in the air.


Andrea E. Woods Valdés Symposium Director/panelist is the Chair of the Duke University Dance Program and artistic director of Souloworks/Andrea E. Woods & Dancers. She found the wimmim@work showcase and the Calabasa Calabasa summer intensive to develop Black audiences and performing and teaching opportunities for wimmin of color. She is a former dancer/rehearsal director with Bill T. Jones/Arnie Dance Co. She holds an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University and a MAH in Caribbean Cultural Studies from SUNY Buffalo and is a Ph.D. candidate at Dance at Texas Woman's University where her dissertation focus is Black women, embodied aesthetics spirit and sweat. Woods Valdés received grants from The Jerome Foundation, (NEFA) The National Dance Project, National Performance Network, Arts International, and the North Carolina Arts Council.  She creates dances as contemporary African American folklore. Woods Valdés teaches Afro-contemporary, modern dance and dance/vocal/shekere work. Her creative process is inspired blues, jazz, folk music, family folklore, and movement reflective of the African Diaspora social and cultural experience. She has created collaborative works with musicians Randy Weston, David Pleasant, Tiyé Giraud, Madeleine Yayodele Nelson, Philip Hamilton, Shana Tucker, and Atiba Rorie and performance poet, hattie gossett.