What Moves You? @ Kelly Johnson

When you feel what they feel, when you hear what they hear, when you know they are IN it like you would be – that’s one of the best connections that dance can share. I felt that when I worked with Kelly. I connected with how and why she moves, and how her love for the choreographic process was just as important (or more important!) then the finished product. So, I had to pick her brain and get her involved in the “What Moves You” project…

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Kelly Johnson: Dance Professor/Choreographer/Performer
Geneva, New York

What moves you?

The woods move me. Crunchy leaves and geese honking overhead move me. I like patterns and formations in nature. I like trees, all kinds.

Dogs are my favorite animal. The end.

The Caribbean moves me. The waves, the mountains and the candles move me. The skirts, the bell and the eyes confidently downward move me.

I like to vibe and bounce. Flow is important to me and I love a ball-change.

Coolness too.

Meeting new people moves me.

Moving WITH people moves me. Shared sweat is a powerful thing and making work that speaks of shared experiences, ones that might motivate and inspire change moves me.

Teaching moves me. Moments of student growth and change, moments of shell breaking move me.

And my first love MUSIC, she moves me.  The background to my entire life (thanks to my parents) meant that the house was never silent. As you can imagine, this resulted in some sweet kitchen dancing and cartwheels in the living room.

Music moves me first. My working list of songs I “need” to make something to is now years long and I am an active choreographer!

Causes or choreographic intent come next. I am almost always motivated by what I hear first.

I feel my strongest self when sharing on stage.

Fun fact? I can’t whistle.


Kelly Johnson is a dance educator, choreographer, performer and lover of nature whose education is a collective of African, Caribbean and Modern dance. She holds an MFA in Choreography from The College at Brockport and continues to conduct field research in Kingston, Jamaica, while studying at the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Dance at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY where she has designed technique courses in West African, Jamaican and Modern dance along with courses centered in Choreography and Performance. Her choreography has been featured at Cornell , Hofstra (ACDA)and Tulane Universities (Urban Bush Woman), The University of Rochester, The College at Brockport, Rochester’s School of the Arts, Rochester Fringe Festival, Rochester’s Caribbean Festival and throughout NY’s Fingerlakes Region. She continues to collaborate with local artists Alaina and Mark Olivieri, presenting choreography in both the Vision of Sound as well 2015 National Flute Convention. In addition, she has performed with Rochester based company KDiehl Danceworks under the direction of Kathy Diehl. This fall, Johnson collaborated with Rochester’s BIODANCE, under the direction of Missy Pfohl Smith, as the company produced BIO/DANCE & Social Justice Series, performing and sharing with members of Rochester’s local communities. Kelly continues to be inspired by people’s lived experiences and is invested in sharing personal narratives on stage, all with the intention of initiating social consciousness and simultaneous awareness of the “self” and “others”.

Friend Kelly on Facebook or email her at kjohnson@hws.edu.