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Sandra Fortune-Green

Prima ballerina Sandra Fortune-Green was born on March 2, 1951 in Washington, D.C. to Elizabeth and Raymond Fortune. Fortune-Green began her dance career at age ten, enrolling in the renowned Jones-Haywood School of Dance under the instruction of Doris Jones and Claire Haywood. Fortune-Green flourished at the school, eventually becoming a principal dancer for the Capitol Ballet Company.

After Fortune-Green graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School in 1968, she pursued her dance studies in New York at the School of American Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and the Joffrey Ballet, before settling back in Washington, D.C. to attend Howard University. In 1972, Fortune-Green left Howard to begin training for the prestigious Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia. She was the only African American to ever compete in this competition. Fortune-Green was eliminated after the second round of judging, but finished twenty-sixth out of the 126 dancers participating. After returning to the United States, Fortune-Green married her high school sweetheart, Joseph Green, on New Year’s Eve of 1975.

In 1987, Fortune-Green earned a Washington, D.C. Mayor’s Arts Award presented by Marion Barry, and in 1994, she was invited to join the faculty at Howard University’s dance department, where she taught ballet technique classes. Fortune Green also is on the dance faculty at the Duke Ellington School of Arts, a position she has held for more than thirty years. In 2007, Fortune-Green became the new owner of the Jones-Haywood School of Dance, the same studio she attended throughout her adolescence and early adulthood. Years earlier, Jones and Haywood stated in a 1974 interview that they hoped Fortune-Green would continue their legacy.

Fortune-Green has been widely recognized for her efforts within the performing arts, including a designation as an outstanding alumnus from Howard University. Fortune-Green was also featured in two major publications, Black Dance from 1619 to Today by Lynne Fauley Emery and The Black Tradition in Dance by Richard Long.

Sandra Fortune-Green was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 23, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.270

Sex

Female

Interview Date

9/23/2007

Last Name

Fortune-Green

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Organizations
Schools

Barnard Elementary School

Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School

School of American Ballet

Howard University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sandra

Birth City, State, Country

Washington

HM ID

FOR10

Favorite Season

Summer

State

District of Columbia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Oceans

Favorite Quote

The Greatest Reward Comes From The Greatest Commitment.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/2/1951

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Yogurt, Strawberries, Oatmeal

Short Description

Ballet dancer and dance instructor Sandra Fortune-Green (1951 - ) participated in the Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow, Russia in 1972 and was the only African American to ever compete. She was the owner of the Jones-Haywood School of Dance and taught ballet at Howard University and at the Duke Ellington School of Arts.

Employment

Howard University Dance department

Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Jones-Haywood School of Dance

Favorite Color

Black

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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579941">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sandra Fortune-Green's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579942">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579943">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her mother's sisters</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579944">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her maternal grandparents, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579945">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her maternal grandparents, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579946">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579947">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her earliest childhood memory</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579948">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her neighborhood in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579949">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers the segregation of Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579950">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her early education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579951">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green talks about her family</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579952">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her mother's interests</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579953">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her start at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579954">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers seeing the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579955">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls performing with the Bolshoi Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579956">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers learning to dance on pointe</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579957">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her peers at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579958">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls receiving criticism at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579959">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her early performances at the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579960">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes Doris Jones' style of instruction</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579961">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers Theodore Roosevelt Senior High School in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579962">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes the black ballet community in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579963">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579964">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her teachers at the School of American Ballet in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579965">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers the culture of the School of American Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579966">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her summers in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579967">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her influences as a dancer</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579968">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her dance training</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579969">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green talks about racial discrimination in ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579970">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers training in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579971">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her peers' economic background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579972">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her decision to attend college</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579973">Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers performing with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579974">Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls training for the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579975">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green talks about the pressure to lose weight in ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579976">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls training for the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579977">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers partnering with Clover Mathis</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579978">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls auditioning for the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579979">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her experiences at the Second International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579980">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls the Sixth International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579981">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers meeting her husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579982">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes the Seventh International Ballet Competition</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579983">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her transition to dance instruction</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579984">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls Claire Haywood's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579985">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls integration of the Capitol Ballet Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579986">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her audiences in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579987">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers Mayor Marion Barry's support for the arts</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579988">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls dancing with the Washington Ballet Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579989">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls acceptance at the Washington Ballet Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579990">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls teaching at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C.</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579991">Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her mother's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579992">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sandra Fortune-Green remembers her father's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579993">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls the 1988 benefit performance of Capitol Ballet</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579994">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her aneurysm</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579995">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sandra Fortune-Green recalls her aneurysm recovery</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579996">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sandra Fortune-Green describes her daughter's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579997">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579998">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/579999">Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Sandra Fortune-Green reflects upon her future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/580000">Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Sandra Fortune-Green narrates her photographs</a>

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$7

DAStory

6$2

DATitle
Sandra Fortune-Green describes her teachers at the School of American Ballet in New York City
Sandra Fortune-Green recalls the 1988 benefit performance of Capitol Ballet
Transcript
And so for example in 1961 or '62 [1962], you were in New York City [New York, New York] at the School of American Ballet, the premier institution for ballet instruction in the country, in the world perhaps (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Um-hm. And I went in the building just like everybody else. And I was taught just like everybody else.$$Tell me about--$$I remember I was in a class, Madame Tumkovsky [Antonina Tumkovsky], she was a Russian ballet instructor. And I was also in the class with Bujones, Fernando Bujones, gold medalist in Varna [Bulgaria] of the year. He was in my ballet class. Level two, that's what it was. And I remember I liked Tumkovsky because she was, she was commanding and the whole tone of someone who speaks Russian and they're speaking English, they always sound like they're fussing. So I was like, "My God, this woman's fussing all day long." But she kind of really wasn't. And she liked me for some reason. And I remember she called this girl a dummkopf, which is stupid, because this girl was obviously having some problems with left and right (laughter), so. So that was kind of like the joke in the class with this white girl who's she calling dummkopf. And I liked Madame Alexandra Tumkovsky [sic.]. I liked her. I liked her approach and I guess when I think back on it, probably why I liked her was because she taught everybody, and as a teacher, that's what she is supposed to do. Now these other pretentious teachers who only teach the talented children, as far as I'm concerned, that's not teaching 'cause it's easy to teach somebody who's talented 'cause you don't have to do that much work. But you try to work with somebody who's not so talented, and look at your results at the end of the year. Then you can evaluate your own pedagogy. So I can remember being a little nervous when George Balanchine and Diana Abrams [ph.] came into the studio to take attendance or take notes or whatever they were doing. They were pointing and talking and writing. And I always thought they were talking about me, I did. I said, "Oh god, okay Sandra [HistoryMaker Sandra Fortune-Green] get yourself together and you know, you lose your scholarship and Miss Jones [HistoryMaker Doris Jones] is gonna kill you," you know. So--but I went in that building just like everybody else. And I never for once thought that I didn't belong there.$$Were you ever treated any differently?$$Well maybe in ways that I was too immature and naive to notice. You know I can remember one teacher in particular who would walk past me, you know 'cause you walk the line. And she would say something to the girl in front. She would skip me, and then she would say something to the girl in back of me. Now I remember her, but it kind of--it didn't, it didn't bother me because this particular teacher, her approach was kind of like--I thought she was really not my style, so it didn't affect me. I liked Tumkovsky because her, her, her tone was commanding, her tone was energizing, her voice could drive you. And she was, she was more engaging in her teaching and her students. And this other lady was detached and I didn't like her style. So the fact that she wouldn't say anything to me, it didn't really bother me.$How did you I guess channel your emotions? Were you still dancing?$$Let's see, let's see '84 [1984]. Well no, but I was still very much, I was really into my teaching at that point. I really, really was. My head was, was in teaching for real now. There was still conversation about revitalizing Capitol Ballet [Capitol Ballet Company], and actually it did come back for a hot minute in 1988. We had a benefit performance as, as a kickoff to the revitalization. And that performance really was the last time I performed. We had guest artists of [HistoryMaker] Louis Johnson. We had Chita Rivera. We had--April Barry from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performed. We had Sylvester Campbell. We had Hinton Battle. Miss Jones [HistoryMaker Doris Jones] resurrected everybody, and it was wonderful. However, it was a brilliant kickoff. It was kind of like a family reunion, it was at The Kennedy Center [The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C.] in the Eisenhower Theater, but it didn't actually kickoff. So that was my last time performing for real. Now I just play around with stuff, so.$$And what did you perform that night?$$I did the pas de deux from 'Don Q' ['Don Quixote'] with Sylvester Campbell.$$Do you remember what the experience was like on the stage that night at The Kennedy Center?$$It was daunting. When I look at the videotape now, you can see that, you can see a little tension in my face. But you know when--but that's me, that's who I am, you know. So that was--luckily I was able to retrieve the, the video from that event out of this building as I sought--continued to look through Miss Jones' estate. So I have that as a part of my archival collection.$$Could you hear the audience or the see audience from the stage, or did you tune 'em out?$$You don't pay that any attention, because your mind is not on that (laughter). You just know that when it's time for the pirouettes, you better be on your legs. So that's where your, that's where your head is, or at least that's where it should be.$$How are you received at the end?$$Well, yeah. Because I think in D.C. [Washington, D.C.], it is something that is so needed, and over the years Capitol Ballet has had great support. Even if it's no more than buying a ticket. We've never had the kind of salary support. We've never toured or anything like that. There was a time where we, we danced at the black colleges [HBCUs]. But in terms of a real (air quotes) touring season, we just didn't have the, the financial support to do that kind of a thing.$$Were all of the administration support you mentioned, [HistoryMaker] Marion Barry, Sharon Pratt Kelly [HistoryMaker Sharon Pratt], was she supportive as well?$$Um-hm. We always were very well supported through D.C. Commission on the Arts [D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities], and National Endowment [National Endowment for the Arts], and any private donors that Miss Haywood [Claire Haywood] and Miss Jones knew. They were very, very strategic and had a different kind of what I would say unorthodox way of doing whatever they wanted to do.

Louis Johnson

Director and choreographer Louis Johnson was born on March 19, 1930, in Statesville, North Carolina, but moved with his parents to Washington, D.C., at an early age. Although Johnson became quickly known in the Washington, D.C., school system for his outstanding artistic talents, he also developed a strong following for his gymnastic and dancing talents. In high school, he enrolled and trained at the Jones Haywood School of Dance, where he and such notable students as Chita Rivera blossomed under the tutelage of Doris Jones and Clair Haywood.

After being advised to move by his teachers to New York City, Johnson found himself at the famed New York City School of American Ballet, where he was mentored by Jerome Robbins and George Balanchine. These associations led directly to a performance with the New York City Ballet Company and then on to Broadway shows such as Four Saints in Three Acts, House of Flowers (choreographed by George Balanchine), Damn Yankees (by Bob Fosse) and Hallelujah Baby. His public acclaim in these Broadway performances led to an offer to choreograph his ballet, Lament for the New York City Ballet Club. That success, in turn, led to him receiving an offer to choreograph the Broadway production Black Nativity by Langston Hughes. Johnson also choreographed Lost in the Stars, Treemonisha and Purlie, for which he received a Tony nomination.

Johnson has received the great acclaim for choreographing operas performed by the New York Metropolitan Opera. Those operas include La Giaconda, starring Martina La Rowa and Aida, which starred Leontyne Price. In movies, he choreographed Cotton Comes to Harlem and The Wiz, starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross. In addition to his work in New York City, Johnson has mounted ballets for the Cincinnati Ballet, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Joffrey Ballet, Philadanco Dance Company, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Atlanta Ballet Company. In 1980, he started Henry Street Settlement’s Dance Department in New York City. He continued to work there until 2003. He also taught the first Black theatre course at Yale University and started Howard University’s Dance Department in Washington, D.C.

Johnson’s honors include: the Pioneer Award from the International Association of Blacks in Dance at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; an honor from the California chapter of the NAACP for his work with the original Negro Ensemble Company; and a special night honoring him from Ashford and Simpson. His directorial credits include Porgy and Bess, Miss Truth, Jazzbo Brown, Time in the Wind and Ebony Game.

Johnson passed away on March 31, 2020.

Accession Number

A2005.134

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/9/2005

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Organizations
Schools

Shaw Middle School at Garnet-Patterson

Garrison Elementary School

Armstrong Technical School

School of American Ballet

Dunham School of Dance and Theater

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Louis

Birth City, State, Country

Statesville

HM ID

JOH21

Favorite Season

Fall

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Harlem, New York

Favorite Quote

Holding on.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

3/19/1930

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Potatoes (White)

Death Date

3/31/2020

Short Description

Ballet dancer, dance professor, and choreographer Louis Johnson (1930 - 2020) has choreographed for the stage in, "Damn Yankees," and, "Hallelujah Baby," and for screen in, "The Wiz," and, "Cotton Comes to Harlem." In 1980, he started Henry Street Settlement’s Dance Department in New York City. He also taught the first black theater course at Yale University, and started Howard University’s dance department in Washington, D.C.

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:1092,12:4290,50:6006,70:6474,78:6864,84:7644,97:9282,124:9984,133:11856,225:21081,300:21397,311:22266,398:31746,550:38110,616:40088,654:40862,664:41722,732:52128,870:64442,1005:71706,1101:72733,1112:74708,1146:76446,1178:80238,1265:83980,1278:107061,1666:108600,1695:110949,1722:118131,1806:118842,1817:122805,1887:133676,2027:135548,2043:135860,2048:136406,2053:136796,2059:142412,2170:148300,2201:149000,2241:149490,2250:150050,2261:150820,2272:151450,2282:154600,2337:155230,2348:155580,2354:160995,2409:175204,2569:186484,2703:186799,2708:188520,2720:189112,2730:189704,2739:191258,2775:192072,2789:194070,2839:194662,2855:202023,2889$0,0:3984,74:13226,188:16661,217:17065,222:19685,248:23157,297:24004,311:24620,325:25082,338:27084,375:30395,459:47160,695:47825,706:48775,731:52670,791:54190,809:61737,918:76380,1146:77780,1165:78480,1173:89490,1307:90288,1323:103662,1498:108854,1584:113905,1617:117480,1655:123321,1763:123717,1768:125103,1784:126786,1811:127578,1820:135654,1927:136414,1934:150810,2065:161243,2156:167067,2259:169706,2306:170070,2311:170434,2316:171071,2329:171526,2335:172345,2349:173437,2365:188510,2534:189935,2562:196089,2647
DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9197">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Louis Johnson interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9198">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson's favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9199">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson talks about his mother's background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9200">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson remembers his grandmother</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9201">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson discusses his elementary school years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9202">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson describes his early involvement in dance</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9203">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson talks about his father's background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9204">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson recalls influential dance teachers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9205">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson remembers classmates in dance school</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9206">Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Louis Johnson remembers his first dance job</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9207">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson discusses an early appearance on Broadway</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9208">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson talks about the cast of 'House of Flowers'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9209">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson remembers his involvement in 'Damn Yankees'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9210">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson recalls close friends from his early days on Broadway</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9211">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson comments on young dancers of today</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9212">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson recalls experiences in the motion picture 'Damn Yankees'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9213">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson details his transition into choreography</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9214">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson talks about various choreography work</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9215">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson mentions students from Howard University' dance program</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9216">Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Louis Johnson remembers choreographing 'Purlie'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9217">Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Louis Johnson mentions various successes from his choreography career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9218">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson describes his approach to new projects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9219">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson talks about facing discrimination</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9220">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson discusses different types of entertainers he's worked with</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9221">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson explains applying his style to various projects</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9222">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson details various performers he's worked with over the years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9223">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson remembers working in Atlanta and Harlem</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9224">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson explains his involvement with the Negro Ensemble Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9225">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson recalls his career with Henry Street Settlement</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9226">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson talks about projects of which he's most proud</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9227">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson talks about Howard University's dance department</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9228">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson describes the career of Debbie Allen</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9229">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson remembers choreographing 'Treemonisha' to Broadway</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9230">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson discusses various productions he's choreographed</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9231">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson details his involvement with 'The Wiz'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9232">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson recalls various awards he's received</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9233">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson talks about his directorial credits</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9234">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Louis Johnson talks about 'The Ebony Game'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9235">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Louis Johnson discusses his involvement in 'MissTruth'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9236">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Louis Johnson shares his thoughts on 'Jazzbo Brown'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9237">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Louis Johnson remembers the production 'Time and the Wind'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9238">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Louis Johnson further discusses 'Miss Truth'</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9239">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Louis Johnson tells of giving exposure to lesser-known performers</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9240">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Louis Johnson comments on various performers he's worked with</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9241">Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Louis Johnson talks about dealing with racism during his early years</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9242">Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Louis Johnson reflects on his career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9243">Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Louis Johnson tells of the importance of black history</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/9244">Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Louis Johnson considers his legacy</a>

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Louis Johnson describes his early involvement in dance
Louis Johnson details his transition into choreography
Transcript
You started developing your movement abilities in elementary school. Tell us about being in the second and third--well, as much you remember--?$$Well, I used to tap dance.$$--and the acrobatics?$$I tap danced around with my acrobatics, and there was a gentleman named Derwood Brent (ph.) and Melvin Hope (ph.) that tap danced. And Derwood Brent was in charge of the New Faces Guild [NOT FOUND]. There was a thing in Washington [D.C.] called The New Faces Guild that Ralph Matthews started. He gave a show like once a year at the Lincoln Theatre, which was the only theater that black people could go to. And he would give a production every year, a fantastic production, tap dancing, comedians and beautiful show girls and all that kind of thing. So I--and Melvin Hope was another young man and Miles Conte (ph.), and they would tap dance in the shows. I was too young to, but they would let me tap with them around on the street. So I would tap on the street with them and some time I got older enough to be in some of those shows. And that's how I began to dance around. And I always did acrobatics with Nipsey Russell, Nipsey had a great tumbling team. You could never say enough about this man. You didn't know what he was doing then, but he was a great, great acrobat, like you see in the circus. And he taught the young kids to do that.$$Now, was he teaching you at that YMCA [Young Men's Christian Association]?$$At the YMCA and the streets. And that's how I got involved with dance. The YMCA was being renovated, so the YWCA [Young Women's Christian Assocation] let us use their place. And Jones and Haywood, the ladies who found in me as a dancer, who introduced me to dancing professionally was teaching there. And they saw us rehearsing at the YWCA, and they saw me stretching around and doing that stuff. And they were very impressed, so they offered me a scholarship in formal dancing at the Y, you know, and I, I said, I'd love to. And that's how it all started with me dancing.$$Now, tell us about the dance team that began teaching you? Just give us some more details and some--?$$Doris [W.] Jones and Claire [Helen] Haywood?$$Yes.$$They were two wonderful ladies that taught ballet. And they thought I would be able to do that well, seeing me stretch and carry on. So they invited me to take some classes at their school and gave me a scholarship and cleaning up their house like once a week. And I'd come and take dance classes there, and I did. And it introduced me to ballet and formal dancing properly. And I fell in love with it, but I kept my tumbling going on, and that's how I got involved with dance; came to New York [New York]. They sent me to New York City to the School of American Ballet. That's George Balanchine's school at the time; the finest training in ballet you could get anywhere in the world. And I went on, carried on.$Let's, let's go on to 'Hallelujah Baby' [1967], that followed your ascent there?$$'Hallelujah Baby' I wasn't dancing. No, I hadn't danced in a little while. And I was asked to come into that cause I--they knew who, they knew of my--the young man that choreographed it, Kevin Carlisle, I did the first 'Modern Jazz Quartet' thing, I had used him as a dancer because he even became a cari--choreographer. And he'd become a choreographer for the 'Garry Moore Show' [television program], and he had choreographed 'Damn Yankees', and he was replacing somebody. Well, he needed a standby, and one name leads to another. And a lot of people knew of my name, and they recommended me highly. And I became the standby in that.$$Okay.$$That means if somebody's out, you go in their place. And I stood in for Alan Weeks and another young man, I'm--Winston [DeWitt] Helmsley. They were called 'Tip and Tap', and they had a specialty number in there. And I was on all the time. I said, Oh, Lord, at least I'll get a chance to rest. Every time you look around, they say, Louis, get ready, get in your costume cause you're on tonight. So that--.$$So that way, you were quickly moving from being a dancer to being a choreographer? And your first ballet was 'Lament'?$$Yeah.$$And how did that come about?$$Well, that was at the YMCA, YM-YWHA [Young Men's-Young Women's Hebrew Association]. I had done a solo that was, that--called 'Harlequin', which I used my acrobatics and dancing in it. And it was outstanding. And I forget the man's name. How can I forget this man--he was a great producer of, of artists. And he recommended that I would be on a show that they did on Broadway. They used to do a show on Broadway where they used a lot of very fine talent to show them, to ex--to show their talent. And he insisted that they did solo 'Harlequin' of mine. And I forget this man's name. I'll think of it. He was a great, great, great impresario at that time. He--and that's how it started.$$Okay.$$My 'Lament' [1965], you're talking about 'Lament'?$$Right.$$Yeah.$$Right.$$Well, also during that, the man who--I said made me do 'Harlequin' also was named Mr. Koreff. I remember him. He was Nora Kaye's father. Nora Kaye was a great big ballerina at that time. And he gave this thing called 'New York City Ballet Club' every year. And he insisted I do a piece. So I, I did a piece called 'Lament' that I had heard the music of Bachiana Brasileira of Villa-Lobos. So I did that, and it was a big success at the Y. Then I began to do ballets. They, they, they liked it, the audiences did, and people did and talked--it was the talk--.