Louis Johnson

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Mr. Johnson was also a dance educator. He started the formal dance department at Howard University in Washington and was the director of the dance division of the Henry Street Settlement in Manhattan.

Ms. Van Scott, who played Rolls Royce Lady in “The Wiz,” as part of a cast that included Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, recalled a moment during filming when Mr. Johnson asked the male dancers to cartwheel over several high wooden tables.”

“The boys are looking at it him like, ‘huh?’” she said. “All of a sudden, he runs over, does these cartwheels — flip, flip, flip, flip, flip — across the tables. It was gorgeous. He said, ‘If I did it, you can do it.’”

“He would never give you something that couldn’t be done,” Ms. Van Scott added. “He would never give you something you couldn’t do.”

While Mr. Johnson left no immediate survivors, he did have a dance family, one born from “House of Flowers,” which featured a stellar cast including Alvin Ailey, Arthur Mitchell, Geoffrey Holder, Ms. de Lavallade and Ms. Van Scott.

“Somebody asked me, What did they feed you guys?” Ms. Van Scott said, adding: “We were all achievers. We were on a path and none of us veered from that path. We kept going and doing what we were doing: to do our work. Louis was like that.
Gia Kourlas is the dance critic of The New York Times.


Louis Johnson ***** 👑

{ March 19, 1930 – March 31, 2020 }


Today is a special day we committed Louis Johnson’s ashes to the cathedral at St. Johns Divine… what a wonderful ceremony.” – June 14, 2021


Dr. Glory Van Scott Presents The Private Committal Service for Louis Johnson, Legendary Choreographer, Dancer, and Director.

Program held on June 14th, 2021 at The Columbarium, St. Ansgar Chapel, The Cathedral of St. John the Divine.

Special Thanks from Dr. Glory Van Scott to Her Guests and All Who Honor Mr. Louis Johnson

George Wein.
Drummers Auchie Lee, Pamela Patrick, and Michael Mustafa Ulmer.
Dr. Carol Maillard and Dr. Louise Robinson founding members of Sweet Honey In the Rock.
Chapman Roberts, Ray Naccari piano, Clyde Bullard, bass, vocalists Toni Foy, Jaquetta MacMurray, Angel Rose, and Raun Ruffin.
Zita Allen and The New York Amsterdam News for the use of their obituary of Mr. Louis Johnson.
David Robertson for quotes from his film-in-progress “Up In The Air”.
Jennifer B. Lee. The Rev. Canon Steven Lee, Hope Chang, Adrienne Laws, and the team at The Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine.
Norma Jean Darden and Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too.
Leonard Buggs, technical director, Natalie Cruz, Jose Cruz, and Fauzi Ulmer, technical assistants.
Jean Miller and Joan Peters.
Richard Conde, photographer. Lee Gretenstein, administrative assistant, and Rev. Melony McGant, coordinating director, Dr. Glory Van Scott Productions.

Please Mark Your Calendars for a Public Tribute Celebration of Mr. Louis Johnson on Saturday, March 19th, 2022 at 7:00 pm. Free and Open to the Public.

CORPS de Ballet International, Inc. 23rd Annual International Conference

On Tuesday, July 6th at 7:00 PM EST CORPS de Ballet International will posthumously recognize and celebrate this year’s Lifetime Achievement Awardee – internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and director – Mr. Louis Johnson.
Mr. Johnson trained at Jones-Haywood Dance School in Washington, D.C. prior to studying at the School of American Ballet in New York City. One of the early pioneers of African-Americans dancing ballet, he was known for his classical technique, athleticism, and illustrious career on stage, Broadway, and screen. Johnson choreographed for noted companies such as Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Philadanco. His Broadway credits include “Damn Yankees,” “Treemonisha,” and “Purlie,” along with screen credits in “Cotton Comes to Harlem” and “The Wiz”. Johnson went on to establish himself as a choreographer and director for dance, opera, and film. He made history as the first African-American choreographer for the Metropolitan Opera’s “Aida”, taught at Yale University, and is credited with starting the formal dance department at Howard University in Washington, D.C.
For those interested in only attending the Lifetime Achievement Award celebration, contact Leah Bailey at lcauley@fsu.edu. Space is limited.
Visit corps-de-ballet.org for conference information and registration.

(c) All Rights Reserved iforcolor.org (Dale Shields)


LINKS & References 




Getty Images – NYPL (Photos) 

New York Theater

Photos: courtesy of Louis Johnson

Photos: courtesy of Houston Grand Opera Archives




www.pbs.org/wnet/freetodance/biographies/ljohnson.html (Thomas F. DeFrantz)






Dunning, Jennifer. “Louis Johnson: ‘I Love Dance–Any Kind of Dance’.” NEW YORK TIMES, September 28, 1975, Sec. 2, p. 6.
Goodman, Saul. “Brief Biographies: Louis Johnson.” DANCE MAGAZINE (August 1956).

Source Citation: “Louis Johnson.” ENCYCLOPEDIA OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE AND HISTORY. 5 vols. Macmillan, 1996. Reprinted by permission of Gale Group.

  1. ^ DeFrantz, Thomas. “Louis Johnson:Biographical Essay”. Free to Dance. Thirteen: WNET. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  2. ^ Jump up to: abcde Kourlas, Gia. “Louis Johnson, 90, Genre-Crossing Dancer and Choreographer, Dies”. www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  3. ^ Lille, Dawn. “A Conversation with Louis Johnson”(PDF). balletreview.com. Ballet Review. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  4. ^ “Internet Broadway Database: Louis Johnson”. Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  5. ^ Jump up to: ab “Louis Johnson: Biography”. www.thehistorymakers.org. The History Makers. Retrieved 23 January 2022.
  6. ^ Gia, Kourlas. “Louis Johnson, 90, Genre-Crossing Dancer and Choreographer, Dies”. www.nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved 23 January 2022.