Louis Johnson’s passing marks the end of an era in Black dance. Johnson was the last of the of his generation of 20th century American choreographers of African descent and International renowned. His contemporaries, Alvin Ailey, Talley Beatty, Geoffrey Holder, Donald McKayle, and Arthur Mitchell, all forged through the restrictive Jim Crow era of hatred and segregation; that unfortunately included the arts- and dance.Continue reading
Dancer, choreographer and director Louis Johnson passed away he was 90 years old. Born March 19, 1930 in Statesville, North Carolina Johnson’s parents moved to Washington D.C. and he became a standout in the D.C. school system for his artistic and gymnastic abilities. While in high school Johnson enrolled and trained at the Jones Haywood School of Dance, where he blossomed under the tutelage of Doris Jones and Clair Haywood.
Johnson moved to New York City and continued his dance training at the famed New York City School of American Ballet, where he was mentored by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. Johnson performed on Broadway in Four Saint in Three Acts, House of Flowers (George Balanchine choreographer) Damn Yankees (Bob Fosse) and Hallelujah Baby. The success of one of his early choreographic works Lament for the New York City Ballet Club led to offers to choreograph the Broadway production of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity. This lead to additional theatrical productions including Lost In The Stars, Treemonisha and Purlie, which garnered Johnson a Tony Award nomination.
Johnson choregraphed La Giaconda (starring Martina La Rowe) and Aida (starring Leontyne Price) for the New York Metropolitan Opera. Johnson also choreographed two motion pictures the 1970 Cotton Come To Harlem and The Wiz starring Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. Johnson never lost his love for concert dance choreographing for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Joffrey Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Philadanco and the Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theater. In 1980 Johnson started the dance department at the Henry Street Settlement (New York City), where he remained until 2003. He also taught the first Black theater course at Yale University and stated dance department at Howard University (D.C.). His directorial credits include Porgy and Bess, Miss Truth and Jazzbo Brown.
Well March has come in like a lion. Snow and frigid temperatures are in the immediate forecast, but that has never stopped New Yorkers from having a great time. This week we are dancing north, south, east and Westside. Art from Museum Mile to Flatbush Avenue; and cutting edge theatre in Broadway to the Bronx. Here are a few of the many events happening in the city that never sleeps, guaranteed to keep you Out and About.Continue reading
In Afternoon Of A Faun (1953) Jerome Robbins‘ genius take on the old Debussy/Nijinsky ballet. A 1955 Canadian broadcast of the two legends of the NYC Ballet (and the original ballerina in this) Tanaquil LeClercq and Jacques d’Amboise (Francisco Moncion original danseur).Continue reading
The Concert (or The Perils of Everybody), by choreographer Jerome Robbins with music by Frédéric Chopin portrays a cast of quirky characters at a piano recital and their laugh-out-loud antics. The premiere took place at City Center of Music and Drama, New York, on Tuesday, 6 March 1956.Continue reading
Shirley Edd, Michael Kidd, John Kriza and Jerome Robbins
Fancy Free, a ballet choreographed by Jerome for Ballet Theatre, the predecessor of American Ballet Theatre. Set to a score by Leonard Bernstein, with scenery by Oliver Smith, costumes by Kermit Love and lighting by Ronald Bates. The premiere took place on Tuesday, April 18th, 1944, at the original Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. The sailors were played by Jerome Robbins, Michael Kidd, and John Kriza. Continue reading
“The ballet stays and exists in the time of the music and its work. Nothing is out of it, I believe; all gestures and moods, steps, etc. are part of the fabric of the music’s time and its meaning to me.” – Jerome Robbins
Dances at a Gathering
Choreography: Jerome Robbins (1969) Music: Chopin Pianist: Ryoko Hisayama Opéra de Paris (2014)
Ludmila Pagliero – en rose Amandine Albison – en mauve Nolwenn Daniel – Amarelo Aurélie Dupont – en vert Charline Giezendanner – en bleu Mathieu Ganio – en brun Karl Paquette – en violet Josua Hoffalt – en vert Emmanuel Thibault – en rouge brique Christophe Duquenne – en bleu Nolwenn Daniel – en jaune
Storyboard P has pushed street dancing in a darker, more mature direction of urban storytelling he calls Mutant. The twenty-three year old Brooklyn dancer combines jarring feats of contortion, pantomime, floating footwork and simulated levitation. His choreography, most of it improvised, has a wide range of influences: Jerome Robbins, especially his work in West Side Story; the Nicholas Brothers, whose acrobatic tap-dancing routines amazed Fred Astaire in the nineteen-forties; and, above all, Michael Jackson. Continue reading
Up in the Air is a feature-length documentary about legendary dancer, choreographer and director Louis Johnson. Narrated by Johnson, with additional commentary by his colleagues and friends- people he’s known and influenced for over six decades. The artists who have committed to share their experiences with Johnson include as luminaries as: Chita Rivera, George Faison, Carmen De Lavallade, Sylvia Waters, Desmond Richardson and Troy Powell. The initial goal is to raise $30,000 for the pre-production and production costs through a Kickstarter campaign.Continue reading
West Side Story is a 1961 romantic musical drama film directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins. The film is an adaptation of the 1957 Broadway musical of the same name, which in turn was inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. It stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno, and George Chakiris. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 10, including Best Picture (as well as a special award for Robbins), becoming the record holder for the most wins for a movie musical.Continue reading
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