Interview with Louis Johnson

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Interview with Louis Johnson
Balanchine, George (Choreographer)
Johnson, Louis, 1930- (Interviewee)
DeFrantz, Thomas (Interviewer)
Caines, Christopher (Videographer)
George Balanchine Foundation (Presenter)

Popular Balanchine

Dates / Origin
Date Created: 2001-08-16
Table of Contents
Disc 1 (41 min.). Louis Johnson discusses performing in the Broadway show House of Flowers; his dance background, being raised in Washington D.C., taking classes on scholarship at the Doris Jones - Clara Haywood School of Dance; The School setting up an audition for Johnson and Chita Rivera where both got into the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York; studying at SAB; performing in his first Broadway show, Four saints in three acts; attending the Katherine Dunham Dance School; about the House of flowers cast and production; the audition process since he was already dancing at SAB; Geoffrey Holder bringing his musicians that drummed for rehearsals; Marlene Dietrich attending rehearsals and helping out; how many dancers from this show he already knew; celebrities that attended the Katherine Dunham School of Dance; rehearsals with George Balanchine and what Johnson was asked to do; a photograph of the Cockfight scene choreographed by Balanchine with Johnson and Walter Nicks as the cocks; photograph from the Cockfight scene with Johnson identifying the dancers; Cockfight scene stayed the same after Herbert Ross took over except the focus was on the duet with Carmen De Lavallade and Alvin Ailey; the Two ladies in the shade number with brief description of the scene and staging; Geoffrey Holder choreographed his own number which stayed in both versions of the show; the Turtle number and how the turtle was created; the Voudou number; when the dancers rehearsed after Ross took over in Philadelphia; the Madame Tango's tango number and how it was originally in the second act and was then moved to the first act after Ross took over; and a talk about the procession to the Cockfight scene with the song Smellin' of vanilla (Bamboo cage). |||| Disc 2 (27 min.). Thomas DeFrantz playing the number Smellin' of vanilla from the Cockfight scene (Bamboo cage); Johnson talks about the interview he gave that showed a clip of House of flowers; the transition between Balanchine and Ross; Balanchine's concern about the company when he left; Balanchine's staging in Waitin'; DeFrantz plays Waitin' and they talk about the scene; about Pearl Bailey not having much staging and being allowed to do her own thing; working with Balanchine; DeFrantz playing Two ladies in the shade with a talk about the number and about throwing the girls in the air; Johnson talking about Balanchine having fun while choreographing this show; Johnson's memories and what he enjoyed about the show and working with Balanchine; and concludes with Johnson talking about looking for some of his photographs from this show.
Library locations
Jerome Robbins Dance Division
Shelf locator: *MGZIDVD 5-7309
Balanchine, George
Johnson, Louis, 1930-
Bailey, Pearl
Ross, Herbert, 1927-2001
Katherine Dunham School of Arts and Research
Arlen, Harold, 1905-1986. House of flowers
Venue: Videotaped during an interview at the Balanchine Foundation, New York, N.Y., on Aug. 16, 2001.
Acquisition: Gift; George Balanchine Foundation. NN-PD
Physical Description
Extent: 2 videocassettes (DVCam) (68 min.) : sound, color ; 1/4 in.
Type of Resource
Moving image
NYPL catalog ID (B-number): b19683021
Universal Unique Identifier (UUID): 8f36daf0-f79a-0130-f667-3c075448cc4b
Rights Statement
The copyright and related rights status of this item has been reviewed by The New York Public Library, but we were unable to make a conclusive determination as to the copyright status of the item. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use.

Item timeline of events

  • 2001: Created
  • 2018: Digitized
  • 2024: Found by you!
  • 2025

MLA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Louis Johnson" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 2001.

Chicago/Turabian Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. "Interview with Louis Johnson" New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed June 13, 2024.

APA Format

Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. (2001). Interview with Louis Johnson Retrieved from

Wikipedia Citation

<ref name=NYPL>{{cite web | url= | title= (moving image) Interview with Louis Johnson, (2001)|author=Digital Collections, The New York Public Library |accessdate=June 13, 2024 |publisher=The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations}}</ref>

Interview with Louis Johnson