Louis Johnson

Excerpted from his NY Times Obituary, April 10, 2020

His career spanned Broadway (“Damn Yankees”), film (“The Wiz”), opera (“Aida”) and the stages of the Alvin Ailey and Dance Theater of Harlem companies.

Louis Johnson, an acclaimed choreographer, dancer and director whose career spanned Broadway, ballet and modern dance, died on March 31 in Manhattan. He was 90.

The cause was pneumonia and renal failure, said Glory Van Scott, a dancer, actress and director and his friend and health care proxy. He recently tested positive for the coronavirus, she said.

As a dancer and choreographer, Mr. Johnson was known for his extensive range. He performed in Broadway shows like “House of Flowers” and “Hallelujah Baby!” and in the screen and stage versions of Bob Fosse’s “Damn Yankees.” An African-American who was influenced by black mentors, he created works for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Dance Theater of Harlem. He was the choreographer of the 1978 film adaptation of “The Wiz.” And he was nominated for a Tony Award in 1970 for his choreography for the musical “Purlie.” “

Very few blacks have had all the experiences I’ve had,” Mr. Johnson said in an interview with The New York Times in 1975. “There haven’t been that many opportunities. I’ve performed and choreographed all kinds of dance, so that’s how I can go from ‘Treemonisha’” — an opera by the ragtime composer Scott Joplin — “to the Metropolitan Opera.”

NFT Credits

Credit Type Production Season
Choreographer Waltz of the Stork Boogie 1984-85 Season
Choreographer Rose McClendon: Harlem’s Gift to Broadway 1998-99 Season