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Founded in 1999, Lydia Johnson Dance has been consistently praised for its distinctive choreography, which uses components of ballet woven seamlessly into a contemporary dance vocabulary. The New York Times, The New Yorker, Backstage Magazine, Dance View Times and Oberon’s Grove have critically acclaimed the company for its annual New York Season. LJD's 2019 New York Season was chosen by the Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts to be filmed by their videographer and is available for viewing at the library.  LJD has performed at many venues including Live Arts, The Ailey Citigroup Theater, and in the 92nd St Y’s Moving Forward: Women Ballet Choreographers East and West series, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival’s Inside/Out, the Great Friends Dance Festival in Rhode island and the Downtown Dance Festival in NYC. LJD was in residence at Kaatsbaan in March of 2022 developing new work. 


Capturing a sense of the depth and spirit of the human struggle, Johnson’s evocative work is noted for an underlying sense of drama, which resonates through the predominantly abstract qualities of her choreography. Marina Harss in The New Yorker  wrote: “Johnson is a craftsman and a poet; her works, which stress the ensemble and attend closely to the music, have an ebb and flow in addition to a strong emotional current. The basis of her technique is ballet, and her dancers are strong. The program at New York Live Arts includes four works, two of them new, set to a variety of musical styles, from Handel to Golijov”


Dance writer Philip Gardner wrote recently in Oberon’s Grove: “Lydia Johnson's work, rooted as it is classical ballet technique, is alive with dramatic nuances that paradoxically seem both contemporary and curiously evocative of ancient modes of dance. Among current choreographers, her work bristles and blooms with a poignant sense of humanity. There's nary a trace of theatricality in her dances; rather, she uses the music as a canvas on which emotions - both the deep and the subtle - are painted. Expressions of tenderness (so lacking in our lives today), hope, remorse, uncertainty, and the frailty of the human heart well up on the music, sometimes unexpectedly.”


Music is a powerful component of the Lydia Johnson Dance experience. Her selections often include contemporary masters such as Osvaldo Golijov, Philip Glass, and Henryk Gorecki, as well as classical composers such as Schubert, Bach and Mozart. The music provides not only an emotional resonance, but also comes to Ms. Johnson as a challenge, motivating her to move forward in responding to and solving structural puzzles both within the music and of her own design. The music influences the way her vocabulary and phrases are juxtaposed, combined, repeated, fractured and recombined. It informs the nature of the relationships between the dancers. Brian Seibert in The New York Times commented: “What seems to count most for Ms. Johnson is music. The four pieces on the program all showed uncommon skill at matching ballet movement to music, both at the large scale of structure and in small, felicitous details.”  


Ms. Johnson selects dancers who are able to bring their own individuality and expressive ability to each piece. Through the years the company’s dancers have also performed with other highly acclaimed companies, among them: American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group and Twyla Tharp Dance.


Lydia Johnson Dance is strongly committed to increasing awareness of and involvement in contemporary dance. The LJD School Scholarship Fund gives financially disadvantaged young people the opportunity to study dance and choreography together, and to experience the joys and challenges of the creative process. Lydia Johnson Dance is honored to have been awarded Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation grants for the past nine years. 

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