Ms. Lorna “Ava” Henry
Ava’s skills as a dancer have been a talking point in cultural circles since her teenage years, thereby earning her the name “Queen of Dance” in the Federation.
Ms. Lorna ‘Ava’ Henry was born and raised in Mc. Knight’ and was the Federation’s first Choreographer/ Dance Director. In 1975, at the age of fifteen, she associated with the Okolo Tegremantine Arts Theatre where she remained for 35 years and was lead choreographer for 32 of those years.
For over three decades this dynamic, talented, multifaceted lady pioneered, preserved and preformed, conceptualized, choreographed and taught dance in St. Kitts. Her experience and passion for dance and culture was highly recognized when she was appointed Dance Specialist in at the Department of Culture in 1996.
Ava’s first public performance was in 1976 at the Fairview Inn and since then, she has embarked on a dance career that has taken her all over the world. It was the year 1979 when she first performed outside of St Kitts as a member of the contingent at Carifesta that was held in Cuba. Ava was one of two dancers accompanied by drummers presenting St. Kitts’ unique set of Masquerade Folkdances. It was the first time that Masquerade, traditionally performed by males only, was performed on a regional stage by women. This performance earned Ava and her dance partner the elite position to perform weekly at the Ocean Terrace Inn as their Friday night star attraction.
Her passion took her in various directions including training workshops for locals as well as dance choreography for pageant contestants. Over the years Ava has advanced her dance career thought extensive training at the Danza Ahoy School in Venezuela, the Jamaica School of Dance and also in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
She has also given back to the community by volunteering to train dancers from numerous churches, schools and national pageant contestants.
This quiet, soft spoken lady was not always into dance and culture. Before taking up the post as Dance Specialist in the Department of Culture Ava’s day to day job was about crunching numbers. She was employed for many years as a Customs Officer as well as at the Treasury Department as accountant general for teachers and pensioners.
In 2005 Ava was one of three dancers from St. Kitts who travelled to Jamaica to tighten their technique and explore new forms of dance expression.
An important aspect of Ava’s portfolio in the preservation of dance and culture, is the documentation and development of local folklore groups. Ava was instrumental in capturing and documenting the history of our folklore and arts in St. Kitts and Nevis through a UNESCO sponsored project “THE SAFEGUARDING AND PROMOTION OF THE INTANGIBLE CULTURAL HERITAGE” in 2005 which was coordinated by the St. Christopher Heritage Society.
Lorna Ava Henry is a celebrated national dance icon.