Holly Johnston

Holly Johnston was born in South Korea and has lived in the United States since her adoption at the age of four. Spending most of her life preoccupied with physical play, she is now the artistic director of Holly Johnston | LEDGES AND BONES [LAB]. LAB is a collection of contemporary dance artists collaborating to create original choreography through a rigorous process of improvisation, experimentation and repetition. Johnston was selected by Dance Magazine as one of their " 25 to Watch" in 2007 for her "fearless and fluid" (Dance Magazine) approach to choreography. She is a performer, choreographer and movement educator holding a BA in Dance from Loyola Marymount University. She emerges from a career as a dancer using her passionate performance style and her relentless drive for movement invention to create work as an independent choreographer alongside her company of dancers living and working in both Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Johnston's choreography has been described by critics as "stunning..."(-NYTheatre), "hard-driving, hyperphysical"(-LA Times).... "lovely, pleasing, unpredictable, consistently interesting" (Dance Insider, NY) Her choreography has been presented in New York, Arizona and extensively throughout her home turf of Los Angeles and San Francisco, including The Ford Amphitheater, Highways Performance Space, Diavolo Performance Space, El Portal Theater, FOCUSfish , and ODC Theater. Earlier in her career she was a founding member of Tongue Contemporary Dance (AD: Stephanie Gilliland) and worked as a principle dancer, master teacher, and the company's rehearsal director from 1997-2005. She has received five Lester Horton Award nominations, for Outstanding Ensemble Performance and Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design. She has performed nationally and internationally and has toured to Malaysia/Singapore, New York, Las Vegas, Mexico, Vancouver BC, San Francisco, Detroit, and The Cayman Islands. She has performed in corporate industrials for companies such as Mercedes, Volkswagen,  Union Pacific Railroad, The Ritz-Carlton, and The Grammy’s ‘06 & ‘07. Holly Johnston | LEDGES AND BONES are currently artist-in-residence at ODC Theater in San Francisco.  Johnston also works with private clients in her physical training business as the founder/creator of Integrated Human Action. 

Choreographic Fellow | June 12 – 24, 2012


Johnston researched a new piece, BORDERLINE, which examines neurological capacity for creativity and how this is, or can be, embodied. The impetus for the piece was derived from Dr. Nancy C. Andreason’s work on the intersections between creativity, spirituality, neuroimaging, genomics, and the natural history and neural mechanisms of schizophrenia.  As part of her research, Johnston began a multi-session dialogue with Dr. K. Anders Ericcson, a Conradi Eminent Scholar and Professor of Psychology at Florida State University to examine questions of developing expertise as a contemporary dancer.  Through intensive physical training, rigorous rehearsals with creative exercises driven at unveiling emotions embedded in the body through the body, Johnston examined the neurological dimensions of using dance as an expressive medium, while simultaneously questioning how this work can be part of training mastery in the field of dance.

The residency culminated in an Informal Showing in which Johnston described her application of Dr. Ericcson's practices while in residence and shared the movement material developed to date. Johnston and her collaborators concluded the showing with an interactive feedback session with audience members.

  • Johnston and her collaborators research material for <i>BORDERLINE</i>
  • Johnston's collaborators explore themes of dependency and autonomy during a rehearsal session
  • Johnson and dancers work through a creative problem solving exercise
  • Johnston conducts a group assessment to check the state of her collaborators
  • Holly Johnston
  • Paul Vickers rehearses materials developed for <i>BORDERLINE</i>
  • Johnston's collaborators perform a section of <i>BORDERLINE</i> at the Informal Showing
  • Jhia Jackson performs during the <i>BORDERLINE</i> Informal Showing
  • Jesse Chin and Paul Vickers explore themes of intimacy and co-dependence
  • Jesse Chin and Paul Vickers
  • Performer dons watermelon helmet
  • Johnston's female dancers during a section exploring the female form and consumption
  • Performers examine the construction of femininity
  • Watermelon helmets created for the all-female section of <i>BORDERLINE</i>
  • Dr. K. Anders Ericsson and Johnston in dialogue after the Informal Showing
Collaborators in Residence: Heather Cooper Allen, Jesse Chin, Mackenzey Franklin, Katharine Hawthorne, Jhia Jackson, Sarri Sanchez, Paul Vickers [performers]. Slideshow photos by Chris Cameron and Al Hall.

Featured Artist

Faye Driscoll

February 22 - 24
Carolina Performing
Arts, UNC Chapel Hill


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