Acclaimed Lydia Johnson Dance Performs at SOPAC October 10th

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Acclaimed choreographer Lydia Johnson, Artistic Director of Lydia Johnson Dance, will see her work, “Night and Dreams,” performed at the South Orange Performing Arts Center (SOPAC) on October 10.

This special performance is part of a showcase featuring Johnson, a South Orange resident who also runs a popular dance school and summer camp in Maplewood, and two other New Jersey artists who were earlier this year awarded the prestigious and highly competitive New Jersey State Arts Council Choreography Fellowship.

The performance is Friday at 8 p. m. To purchase tickets, which are $20 or $15 for SOPAC members, visit the SOPAC website.

Along with fellow recipients Randy James and Erin Carlisle Norton, Johnson received the fellowship to recognize her commitment to artistic excellence. Each artist will present a full-length work at SOPAC.

This is the first time Johnson has been awarded the fellowship.

“I’m honored to have been awarded a NJ State Fellowship and very excited to show this piece in South Orange,” said Johnson, “especially given that our LJD School — with its extensive Scholarship Program — is here and this gives our families an opportunity to see the Company locally.”

State Arts Council Choreography Fellowships are awarded every three years as part of the Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship Program, according to a press release. They are based on independent peer review of anonymous artist submissions, and are geared to promote artistic excellence and help artists further their careers.

Here is a description of Johnson and her company from the release:

First-time recipient Lydia Johnson is the Artistic Director of Lydia Johnson Dance, which uses components of ballet woven seamlessly into a contemporary dance vocabulary. Capturing a sense of the depth and spirit of the human struggle, Ms. Johnson’s evocative work is noted for an underlying sense of drama, which resonates through the predominantly abstract qualities of her choreography. The company will perform “Night and Dreams” set to Schubert Leider.

“The Council is proud to partner with SOPAC because of our common goals and vision, not only for this program but for New Jersey artists and the arts industry as a whole,” said State Arts Council Executive Director Nick Paleologos. “SOPAC is a premiere performing arts center that engages people of all ages and from all walks of life. It’s a venue with a multifaceted mission, which includes serving as an engine for economic development and helping to shape South Orange as a cultural destination.”

Carlos Lopez, who danced for American Ballet Theater for ten years, will perform in “Night and Dreams,” said Johnson.

“Bringing students to see a dancer of this stature in a more intimate space is also very exciting,” said Johnson, who called Lopez’s work with LJD “remarkable.”

LJD was for several years the Dance Company in Residence at SOPAC and has performed there multiple times, including in performances offered free to the community, said Johnson, who founded LJD in 1999. The company has received critical acclaim from The New York Times, The New Yorker and Backstage Magazine for its annual New York Season.

James is the Artistic Director of the all-male dance troupe 10 Hairy Legs, and Norton is the founder of The Moving Architects.

A Q&A with celebrated dance critic Robert Johnson and the three choreographers will follow directly after the performance.



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