Arts & Culture Maplewood Schools / Kids South Orange Towns

Lydia Johnson Dance Welcomes Two Professional NYC Dancers as Teachers

Laura Di Orio and Katie Lohiya are professional dancers living and performing in NYC and yet two days a week you can find them in Maplewood Village teaching young dancers for Lydia Johnson Dance’s School at the Burgdorff Center.

Lydia Johnson is an acclaimed choreographer residing in South Orange where she raised her three children, who are now young adults. Her commitment to dance education is a part of the Mission Statement of LJD, a non-profit, which provided $18,000 in Scholarships to young dancers who otherwise might not be able to participate last year.

” 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. 

                                             Brian Seibert inThe New York Times stated in June of 2015

The LJD School is unique in its focus on correct alignment, technique and choreography. Each class includes a section where dance students from preschool through high school learn to structure their own dances. These wonderful pieces are shared with family and friends at the end of each semester in a performance of student works which replaces the recital which most commercial studios present.

Both dancers are long time members of Lydia Johnson Dance whose next New York Season is in March at The Ailey Citigroup Theater. Laura is the LJD Company Manager and Katie is the Assistant Director of LJD’s Dance Camp held at the Burgdorff each July.

LJD School students  benefit from the sense of immediacy which working with professionals currently dancing provides. The classes are full of references to professional classes, performing, and rehearsal experiences. Young dancers ask questions about all aspects of the life of a dancer and the concepts of process and patience are woven into the LJD curriculum.

LJD School offers a wide range of classes which are held at The Burdgroff Center and the Winter/Spring classes have space available and start this week (January 19th)! Register by visiting the website here.

For info email Lydia directly at [email protected] or Managing Director Jen McManus at: [email protected]


Laura Di Orio, originally from Pennsylvania, began her training at the Mill Ballet School with Mark and Melissa Roxey. There, she performed frequently with the Roxey Ballet in classical ballets and original repertory works. She continued her training at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and spent one year in the Joffrey/New School University BFA program. Laura then went on to receive her BA in Journalism from Fordham University and has been a contributing writer for Pointe Magazine, Dance Spirit, Dance Informa and a number of other dance publications. Laura’s professional performance career includes work with Lydia Johnson Dance, CONTINUUM Contemporary/Ballet, the Staten Island Ballet, Some Dance Company, Danse En L’Air and Albano Ballet. In addition to teaching at the Lydia Johnson Dance School, Laura has taught ballet at Broadway Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Center, the Alvin Ailey Extension, the School of the Staten Island Ballet and Studio E. She also serves as a ballet substitute for master ballet teacher Kat Wildish. Laura is passionate about teaching and loves watching her students learn and grow. She is thrilled to be a part of the faculty at the Lydia Johnson Dance School.

Katie Martin, originally from Chicago, IL, began her early training at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts and the Lou Conte Dance Studio. She continued her training on scholarship at Point Park University and studied abroad in Paris, France. After moving to NYC Ms. Martin completed her BFA in dance graduating Magna Cum Laude from Marymount Manhattan College. While at Marymount she had the opportunity to perform with artists such as Benoit-Swan Pouffer, May O’Donnel, John Butler, and Erick Hawkins. Further training included the Hubbard Street Summer Intensive, American Dance Festival, and the Merce Cunningham School where she was awarded a scholarship.

Ms. Martin’s professional career includes performances with the Long Island Dance Project, The Synthesis Aesthetics Project, and Lydia Johnson Dance. She is also a member of the Fly By Night Dance Theater.

In addition to performing Ms. Martin has always had a passion for teaching. While in Chicago she taught at the Trilogy Performing Arts Center where she also choreographed for the school. In NYC Katie has been on faculty at the Long Island Dance Project, Astoria School of Fine Arts, and most recently Ballet Academy East. Ms. Martin has been certified in the Barre Pro Method and will also be teaching soon at the Pilates Pro Studio. She is very excited to join the staff at Lydia Johnson Dance.



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