Louis Johnson

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Louis Johnson began making dances in 1953 and achieved his greatest fame as a choreographer who comically combines a continuum of movement styles including social dances to popular music, classical ballet technique, Katherine Dunham-inspired modern dance, spiritual dancing, and acrobatics.

The Louis Johnson Dance Theater Ensemble in Mr. Johnson’s Forces of Rhythm in 1999. The New York Times * December 11, 2005, Ahiram Malveaux lifts Paunika Jones; at right, Chantler Townsend. (photo) – Tom Brazil

“Louis’ choreographic style was a combination of ballet technique, social dancing, Katherine Dunham-inspired modern and acrobatics.”


His two most popular ballets are Forces of Rhythm (1972), created for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Fontessa and Friends (1981), first performed by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.


Let my people go * The AVODAH Dance Ensemble

“The New York-based Avodah Dance Ensemble is a modern dance company rooted in the Jewish tradition and committed to work, that advances principles of social justice, multicultural and interfaith collaboration, and forgiveness. In 1989, Avodah Founding Director JoAnne Tucker, along with guest collaborator Louis Johnson, created “Let My People Go,” a retelling of the Exodus story from both a Jewish and an African-American point of view. Avodah has incorporated into its repertoire Helen Tamiris classicNegro Spirituals.”

Louis Johnson rehearsing for the Cincinnati Ballet (1972)