Durham, NC – Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis, the longtime leader of Durham-based and internationally renowned African American Dance Ensemble, has died. He was 80.
“It is with great sadness, and with the utmost love and respect to the Dancer for Peace, that we announce the transitioning of the one and only, BABA CHARLES “CHUCK” DAVIS,” the African American Dance Ensemble posted on its Facebook page Sunday, May 14.
Davis has served as artistic director and founding elder of DanceAfrica and is one of the foremost teachers and choreographers of traditional African dance in America. He has traveled extensively to Africa to study with leading artists. Davis founded the Chuck Davis Dance Company in New York in 1968 and the African American Dance Ensemble in Durham, NC, in 1983.
He has been a panelist for several programs of the National Endowment for the Arts and is a recipient of the AARP Certificate of Excellence, the North Carolina Dance Alliance Award, the 1990 North Carolina Artist Award, and the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine. He has served on the board of the North Carolina Arts Council since 1991 and in 1992 he received the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts, the state’s highest honor.
In 1996, Davis and the African American Dance Ensemble were awarded a $100,000 grant from the National Dance Residency Program, a three-year initiative launched in 1994 by the New York Foundation for the Arts and funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. In 1998 he received an honorary doctorate from Medgar Evers College; he has received honorary doctorates from several universities, all of which mean a great deal to him.
Davis traveled to Africa many times in his life to study with leading artists, according to BAM. Most recently, Chuck Davis and DanceAfrica were cited as one of “America’s Irreplaceable Dance Treasures: The First 100” by the Dance Heritage Coalition. He was the recipient of the Spectacular Magazine 2017 Man of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award in April 2017.
Davis was also a recipient of North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine.