Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem, Virginia Johnson, describes her ballet company's Creole version of Giselle set in 18th century Louisiana among a community of free blacks who owned their own slaves. Moderated by Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence Constance Valis Hill.
EXCERPT from PillowTalk: Virginia Johnson Returns recorded June 24, 2010.
PillowTalks feature world-renowned choreographers, dancers, authors, filmmakers, historians, and critics in live hour-long moderated discussions of the cultural forces shaping the field of dance. Curated by Jacob’s Pillow Director of Preservation Norton Owen and moderated by Jacob’s Pillow Scholars-in-Residence, PillowTalks use dance as a prism to explore the world at large.
Artistic Director, founding member and former principal dancer of Dance Theatre of Harlem. During her 28 years with the company Virgina Johnson performed most of the repertoire, with principal roles in Giselle, Swan Lake,Agon,Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brillante, A Streetcar Named Desire, Voluntaries and Fall River Legend, which was broadcast on television and won a cable ACE award from the Bravo Network. Later choreographic works include ballets created for Goucher College, Dancers Responding to AIDS, the Second Annual Harlem Festival of the Arts, Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center and Marymount Manhattan College, where she was also an adjunct professor. After retiring from performing, she founded POINTE Magazine and was editor-in-chief from 2000-2009. Her honors include a Young Achiever Award from the National Council of Women, a Dance Magazine Award, a Pen and Brush Achievement Award, the Washington Performing Arts Society's 2008-2009 Pola Nirenska Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2009 Martha Hill Fund Mid-Career Award. www.dancetheatreofharlem.com
Constance Valis Hill
Jacob's Pillow Scholar-in-Residence, Constance Valis Hill is a jazz dancer, choreographer, and scholar of performance studies whose writings have appeared in Dance Magazine, Village Voice, Dance Research Journal, Studies in Dance History, and Discourses in Dance; and in Dancing Many Drums: Excavations in African-American Dance (2001), Taken By Surprise: Dance Improvisation Reader (2003), Kaiso! Writings by and about Katherine Dunham
(2005), and Ballroom, Boogie, Shimmy, Sham, Shake: A Social and Popular Dance Reader (2008). Her book Brotherhood in Rhythm: The Jazz Tap Dancing of the Nicholas Brothers (2000), received the Deems Taylor ASCAP
Award; and the newly-published Tap Dancing America, A Cultural History (Oxford University Press 2010) was supported by grants from the John D. Rockefeller and John Simon Guggenheim Foundations. She has a Ph.D. in
Performance Studies from New York University and is a Five College Professor of Dance at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts.