Africa inspires Duke Dance Program’s fall concert

November 19, 2013 

“November Dances” will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Reynolds Industries Theater in the Bryan Center on Duke’s West Campus.

LES TODD — Duke Photography

  • If You Go

    Tickets are $15 for the general public, $5 for students and $10 for seniors. Tickets are available at the Duke Box Office, online at or by phone, 919-684-4444.

The Duke Dance Program’s annual fall dance concert, “November Dances,” will feature African-themed works, contemporary ballet and original pieces choreographed by undergraduate students.

“November Dances” performances run at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Reynolds Industries Theater in the Bryan Center on Duke’s West Campus.

Associate dance professor Andrea E. Woods Valdés choreographed a modern group piece, “Adinkra Wisdom,” inspired by Akan symbols that represent Ghanaian values and thought.

Ava LaVonne Vinesett, also an associate dance professor, created choreography for her African Dance Repertory to “connect those who have come before us, and to those who will follow,” she said. Her piece, “A Bridge Between Worlds,” features music by Malian-born singers Oumou Sangaré and Rokia Traoré. The music is arranged by Richard J. Vinesett, musical director for African dance at Duke.

“What Follows,” a contemporary ballet piece choreographed by Tyler Walters, associate professor of dance, will be accompanied by the second movement of Dmitri Shostakovich’s “Piano Quintet in G Minor.” The dance and music combine to suggest an uneasy procession of people following, being followed, meeting and not meeting.

Three advanced student choreographers have also produced works for the show: Ellen Brown T’15, Stephanie Joe T’16, and Jayne Ratliff T’14.

Brown, a double major in dance and psychology, will perform her piece, “Unseen.” This will be her first choreographic work in a Duke dance showcase, though she has performed in both modern and ballet since she came to Duke.

Joe has attended intensive programs on merit scholarships at the Houston Ballet, the Joffrey School of Ballet and the Boston Ballet. These helped prepare her to choreograph “…yet there is hope,” about “our facades, acknowledging weakness, failure, inadequacy, so we can find release from the need for perfection. The struggle continues, but there is hope,” Joe said.

Ratliff, a religion major and dance minor, has choreographed “Unfinished,” a piece about the joys and difficulties of choreographing dances.

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