Johnson, Carole (1940-)

Libraries Australia
http://nla.gov.au/anbd.aut-an49786581
NLA Persistent Identifier
https://nla.gov.au/nla.party-1491391

Biographies

Modern dancer, Indigenous arts activist and founding director of NAISDA Dance College Carole Johnson was born in Jersey City and grew up in Philadelphia, USA. She initially trained in ballet under prominent dancer Sydney Gibson King and later with British choreographer Antony Tudor at The Philadelphia Ballet Guild. Johnson was first introduced to modern dance as a high school graduate at the fledgling dance program at Adelphi College. In 1960 Johnson was accepted into the Juilliard School in New York. While there she attended further technique classes with the New Dance Group. Graduating in 1963, Johnson remained in New York to continue studying ballet and jazz dance. She also taught classes in New York schools, at the Waltann School of Creative Arts in Brooklyn and at the Harlem Branch of the YMCA. During this time Johnson performed with several ballet companies including Ballet Guild, Ballet Players and Ballet Concepts.

Johnson joined the Eleo Pomare Dance Company in 1966, as a dancer and as an advocate for African-American dance. A soloist between 1967 and 1972, Johnson danced in works such as The Angels Are Watching Over Me, Construction in Green, From the Soul, as Bessie Smith in Gin, Woman, Distress and as Angela Davis in Jailhouse Blues. In 1971, the New York State Council on the Arts awarded Johnson a Personal Arts Fellowship to study traditional dance in Senegal, Sierra Leone and Ghana, and to study and teach at the University of Ghana. When the Eleo Pomare Dance Company performed at the 1972 Adelaide Festival for the Arts, South African visual artist Bauxhau Stone introduced Johnson to Jennifer Isaacs, the Australia Council for the Arts' Indigenous Officer, who asked Johnson to teach some dance workshops in Redfern during the company's Sydney visit. These were very successful. As part of the Black Moratorium to save the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, Johnson created The Challenge - Embassy Dance (1972), which featured students of the Redfern workshops: Wayne Nicol, Norma Ingram, Euphemia Bostock and her daughter Tracey, and sisters Elsie and Joanne Vesper. Over the next three years Johnson returned to Australia twice to continue the workshops in Sydney. She was also involved with Sydney Theatre Company's Cradle of Hercules (1974), a contentious production about the first encounters between Indigenous people and whites after 1788.

At that time Johnson joined the Sydney Black Theatre Workshop initiated by Jenni Van der Steenhoven, Paul Coe and Bob Maza from Melbourne, who had studied theatre in the USA with African America actors and directors. Here she ran contemporary dance workshops and in 1975 worked with Indigenous actor Brian Syron to develop a six week training program, which began with a performance by Pastor Brady's Yelangi Dance Company and Stephen Mam's Torres Strait Island or Waiben Dancers. This program grew into a professional course for Indigenous Australians, Careers in Dance, in 1976. . Careers in Dance became a subsidiary of the Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Scheme (AISDS) in 1976 and, in due course, the National Aboriginal Islander Skills Development Association in 1988, now generally known as NAISDA Dance College. NAISDA's student performing group, Aboriginal Islander Dance Theatre or AIDT, was established in the 1970s. In 1988, her last year as director, Johnson transferred its directorship to NAISDA alumnus Raymond Blanco. AIDT became a separate performing company from NAISDA in 1991.

Over more than a decade Johnson developed significant working relationships with the Yirrkala people from the Northern Territory and the Lardil people from Mornington Island. Johnson also founded Indigenous Australian contemporary dance company Bangarra Dance Theatre in 1989, with Brisbane-born choreographer Stephen Page assuming the role of artistic director in 1990. Subsequently, Johnson has worked in the United States as a panelist at Black Dance conferences in Denver and Philadelphia and lecturing on contemporary Australian Indigenous dance around Philadelphia. She returned to full-time work in Australia in 1994 with the Department of Community Services, assisting in the development of arts workshops for isolated Indigenous communities.

The Australian Dance Awards inducted Johnson into the Hall of Fame in 1999 for her work with NAISDA Dance College, AIDT and Bangarra Dance Theatre. In 2003 Johnson received an Australian Government Centenary medal in recognition of the contribution she has made to the Australian Indigenous community.

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Resources for Carole Johnson

Resources by Carole Johnson (1)

  1. Carole Johnson interviewed by Lee Christofis
    Johnson, Carole, 1940-
    [ Sound : 2011 ]
    View online
    ] At National Library
    Carole Johnson interviewed by Lee Christofis
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 11.791)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 11.791)

Resources about Carole Johnson (3)

  1. Carole Johnson interviewed by Lee Christofis
    Johnson, Carole, 1940-
    [ Sound : 2011 ]
    View online
    ] At National Library
    Carole Johnson interviewed by Lee Christofis
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 11.773)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 11.773)

  2. Carole Johnson during an oral history interview at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, 7 February 2011 / Greg Power
    Power, Greg, 1974-
    [ Photograph : 2011 ]
    Languages: No linguistic content
    View online
    ] At National Library
    Carole Johnson during an oral history interview at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, 7 February 2011 / Greg Power
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 8.179)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 8.179)

  3. Portrait of Carole Johnson, Canberra, 7 February 2011 / Greg Power
    Power, Greg, 1974-
    [ Photograph : 2011 ]
    Languages: No linguistic content
    View online
    ] At National Library
    Portrait of Carole Johnson, Canberra, 7 February 2011 / Greg Power
    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 5.194)

    This resource is very relevant to your query (score: 5.194)

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