Stories are among our most potent tools. We need to unearth old stories that live in a place and begin to create new ones. We are story makers, not just story tellers. All stories are connected, new ones woven from threads of the old. (Paraphrased – Robin Wall Kimmerer)

Join ARENA DANCES every Thursday lunch break for new podcasts, hosted by Artistic Director ARENA DANCES and Company Dancer Joe Crook. This series will share the histories of notable Twin Cities dance artists and the evolution of the industry’s landscape through time. Each week will feature a new guest of honor, sharing their story and impact on this gem of an arts town.

This week’s special guest: Morris Johnson, Jr.

Morris Johnson, Jr is a choreographer, teacher & dancer who started his formal dance education in the Broadway District in New York. He is a two-time recipient of the Judith De Jean Memorial Scholarship Award from the New Dance Group Studio & also received scholarships from The Bernice Johnson Dance Studio & the American Dance Machine under Lee Theodore and Ann Rankin. Morris has performed nationally & toured internationally with various dance companies and musicals including Africa, South America, The Caribbean and the Netherlands Antilles. He has performed for such noted artists as Eartha Kitt at the Apollo theater, Desi Arnez, Barbara Striesand, Prince, Charles Moore’s Drums and Dances of Africa, Pearl Primus, Arrow and Chuck Davis. Morris has choreographed for stage/videos and taught for the U of MN/Guthrie Theater BFA Actors Training Program and U of MN dance department, as well as in New York.

Next Episode – Airing at NOON on November 26th on this Page
Studio Stories with Colleen Callahan- Russell

More about today’s special guest –

Morris Johnson, Jr is a choreographer, teacher and dancer who started his formal dance education in the Broadway District in New York. He is a two-time recipient of the Judith De Jean Memorial Scholarship Award from the New Dance Group Studio and also received scholarships from The Bernice Johnson Dance Studio and the American Dance Machine under Lee Theodore and Ann Rankin.  

Morris has performed nationally and toured internationally with various dance companies and musicals including Africa, South America, The Caribbean and the Netherlands Antilles. He has performed for such noted artists as Eartha Kitt at the Apollo theater, Desi Arnez, Barbara Striesand, Prince, Charles Moore’s Drums and  Dances of Africa, Pearl Primus, Arrow and Chuck Davis. Morris has choreographed for stage and videos to include The Steeles, Robert Robinson, the Jetts, Penumbra Theater, The Walker and various other venues. He also premiered dance fables, Langa and Naga at the Southern Theater and has collaborated with Cassandra Shore’s Jawaahir’ s Caravan and Tree Tales with the Ragamala Dance company. 

Morris has taught for the U of MN/Guthrie Theater BFA Actors Training Program, U of MN dance department, The Arts  Connection in NY, and community classes around the Twin Cities. He received the Sage Award for Outstanding Dance Educator in 2012 and received grants from The McKnight foundation, The Jerome Foundation, MRAC, Dancer Pool, SpaceSpace and a Travel Study grant from the Jerome Foundation to study in Salvador, Bahia with Bale Folklorico Da Bahia.

Missed last week’s episode? You can find all our previous interviews by clicking here!