Profiles

I Create Birmingham: Rosemary Johnson

People experience culture in different ways. It doesn’t necessarily have to be high art. It is a part of our everyday language, and it comes from different places. Movement tells the stories in our bodies. When we can break it down that way, and encourage others to tell their own stories, it becomes a dance.

Dr. Rosemary Johnson has made supporting the arts her life’s work. After 23 years teaching fine arts at Wallace State in Selma, Rosemary decided to move into a new role as Executive Director of the Alabama Dance Council, a state-wide service partner of the Alabama State Council on the Arts that promotes the visibility of dance throughout the state.

Rosemary, January is a busy time for you! What are you currently working on?

This is a crazy time for us, but it is so exciting! We are in the midst of our Alabama Dance Festival, which formally opens this Friday evening at the Alabama School of Fine Arts. It continues through the end of the month at different venues in and around the city, such as the Alys Stephens Center and Arlington Historic House. 

We will feature six performances, six auditions, two guest companies, and over 45 classes. It is an incredible offering to our community of student and professional dancers, as well as to dance enthusiasts in our city.

What are you particularly looking forward to?

We are hosting a performance at Arlington Historic House titled Migratuse Ataraxia. This is a beautiful and poignant retelling of the narrative of antebellum architecture from an African-American point of view and includes a community conversation about our shared histories. 

Community engagement is a key element in the Alabama Dance Council’s mission. How do you create that?

People experience culture in different ways. It doesn’t necessarily have to be high art. It is a part of our everyday language, and it comes from different places. Movement tells the stories in our bodies. When we can break it down that way, and encourage others to tell their own stories, it becomes a dance.

For more information and a performance schedule, click here.

Dr. Rosemary Johnson

Interview by Tonia Trotter
Photos via Alabama Dance Council and Clark Scott