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date: 31 May 2020

Johnson, Louis locked

(19 Mar. 1931– ),
  • Rachel Shor

Extract

dancer, choreographer, and educator, was born in Statesville, North Carolina. The family moved to Washington, D.C., where Johnson, nimble in gymnastics and athletics, was noticed at the local YMCA. Recommended to the Jones-Haywood School of Ballet, which he attended on scholarship, the teenager was selected by the school's founders, Doris Jones and Clara Haywood, to apply to the prestigious School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York City. Along with classmate Chita Rivera, Johnson was accepted, again on scholarship, as one of the first African Americans and the first “black black” (Dunning, New York Times, 25 September 1975) to achieve this honor. He decided to first finish high school, where he was studying art, another talent that aided his professional career.

At SAB, Johnson was mentored by Jerome Robbins co director of the New York City Ballet had a solo in the ...

A version of this article originally appeared in African American National Biography.

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