Duke Dance Program Goes to Brazil

Two dance professors traveled to Brazil in October for an interdisciplinary conference

Keval Kaur Khalsa, chair of Duke's Dance Program traveled to Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, in October to participate in an interdisciplinary conference "Across the Threshold: Creativity, Being and Healing."

She was joined by Ava LaVonne Vinesett, a professor of the practice of dance at Duke.

The research group, which began in 2007, is a collaborative effort, sponsored by the Federal University of Bahia Graduate Program of Performing Arts in conjunction with the Duke Dance Program and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine Program in Integrative Medicine.

"Across The Threshold" was initiated at Duke four years ago, when Khalsa and Vinesett began a research initiative to explore altered states of consciousness and dance. They were joined by medical doctors, a cultural anthropologist, a religion professor and a Middle Eastern studies professor. The first conference was hosted at Duke in 2008 and the following year more than 100 people gathered at the university and the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham for a four-day international conference. 

The Oct. 3-8 event brought together an even broader mix of scholars and practitioners from dance, medicine, nursing, anthropology, history and music to investigate the transformative paths humans have discovered or created through performance, and spiritual and healing practices.  

"The focus of study, body movement, is present in all these approaches and contexts, assuring us that we all have something in common, rich in complexity and difference," Vinesett said.

The event took place throughout Salvador including the Martim Goncalves Theater, the Brazil-Germany Institute of Culture Theater and the Joao Augusto Room. Artists and therapists specializing in areas such as dance, yoga, music, visual arts and medicine taught workshops and participated in public roundtable discussions.