V131: Golden Age With Vinson Fraley

The dancer and musician talks early artistic inspirations, how studying at NYU shapes his work today, and his mission to defy all boundaries.

This cover story appears in V131, available for purchase now

V Magazine: What was the spark that first made you want to do what you do?

Vinson Fraley: I was ignited when I first witnessed a woman named Tamra sing in the church where I grew up. Watching her filled me with awe and so much joy. It was the first time I really remember seeing something that felt like a performance but totally of the spirit. Another [formative] moment was in elementary school when my art teacher was putting together a dance for our Black History assembly based on Alvin Ailey repertoire. I ended up not doing the piece because I was afraid of being picked on for dancing, but it was her who first encouraged me to attend an arts school.

V: Was there a moment that was a turning point in your career?

VF: Being accepted into NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts undergraduate dance program was a big shift for me. It’s when I really began to carve out the possibility of having a career as an artist.

Vinson wears pants LOIS JEANS + V DENIM, Belt Elsa Peretti® Equestrian Belt Buckle in Sterling Silver for Tiffany & Co., Cuff, Elsa Peretti® Small Bone Cuff in Sterling, Silver with Black Jade for Tiffany & Co., Earrings and bracelet Vinson’s own


V: What’s a passion or interest you have that people might not know about?

VF: My formative years in New York have been focused on building a dance career, but many people don’t know that I initially began my practice as a vocalist. I’m trying to reveal that part of myself as I move into a new phase of sharing my work.

V: What’s the most enduring lesson that you’ve learned from being in the public eye?

VF: To not give too much of yourself away. So much of today’s culture is about generating content and visibility. I find it gets tiring very quickly.

V: What attracts you to a creative collaborator?  

VF: A very clear sense of individually and perspective. Someone who makes work that isn’t easy to figure out but has a lucid vision.   

V: If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one ability, what would it be?

VF: The ability to heal or restore things that are broken or damaged.

V: What do you remember about your first pair of denim? What made it special?

VF: My first pair of denim, that I can remember, were probably from the Gap. I probably thought they were special because my mom bought them.

V: What’s the secret to looking good in a pair of jeans?

VF: Finding the correct cut and comfortability seems to be essential. I think jeans should always accentuate your length and hang on the booty just right in whatever style they may be.

V: What advice would you give to your teenage self?

VF: I’d tell myself to take my time and not desire to grow up so quickly.

Pants LOIS JEANS + V DENIM, Belt Elsa Peretti® Equestrian Belt Buckle in Sterling Silver for Tiffany & Co., Earrings and bracelet Vinson’s own


V: If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?

VF: [I’d want to know] who I was in my previous life and who I’ll be in my next life.

V: What words do you live by?

VF: I live by action and movement, not words.

V: What’s a positive quality you have that you’re proud of?

VF: I’d say I’m flexible—good at going with the flow.

V: As your cover launches on Fourth of July weekend, what would your message to the readers be? What advice can you offer on how to move forward this summer after the past year we’ve had?

VF: My message would be that none of us are free until all of us are. It is society’s obligation to deepen our sense of compassion and action against all oppressions, not just the ones that are convenient for us. So, let’s keep applying the pressure, and within that remembering to leave room for rest.

V: What would you like the legacy of your career to be?

VF: I’d like to show others there are no bounds, boxes, or containers for your ideas and dreams. That you are free to change your mind at any time, and to be an example of someone in perpetual transformation.

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