Jill Johnson

Jill Johnson

Dance Director & Senior Lecturer, Theater, Dance & Media, Department of Music; Artistic Director of The Harvard Dance Project
(TDM 141, Music 12, Music 105r)
Jill Johnson


Ms. Johnson is a 28-year veteran of the dance field, has appeared in over 50 tours and taught for dance companies and colleges on five continents. An honors graduate of the National Ballet School, she was a soloist with The National Ballet of Canada and principal dancer and researcher with Ballet Frankfurt.

A world renowned expert on choreographer William Forsythe, Ms. Johnson has been a close collaborator of Forsythe’s for over two decades. She stages and produces Forsythe's ballets on companies worldwide, including The Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala, The Norwegian National Ballet, Alterballetto, Netherlands Dans Theater, Scottish Ballet, Finnish National Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Batsheva Dance Company,  American Ballet Theatre, and Boston Ballet. Her recent choreographic work includes The Copier for Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet; Room/Room for NYU, and 27 for 17 for The New School University; As Yet Unnamed for the Movement Invention Project Collective; Folding Articulation for Princeton University, Waterline for Barnard College at Columbia University, and Solo for Jeff for The Juilliard School.

At Harvard, Ms. Johnson has choreographed 13 original works for students including, The Art of Survival, for Harvard's 10th Anniversary Observance of September 11th and a collaboration between the Mahindra Center for Humanities and the American Repertory Theater 2011; RE: RE: RE: a dance installation in 2011/12, and works which were a part of curricular courses: The Sound of Distance in Itself in 2012, Dog in a Sweater in 2013, Paper Wing and SEESAW in 2014, LOOK UP and Degrees of Difference in 2015, and WHAT MOVES YOU? with Francesca Harper and Mario Zambrano and WUNDER with artist-in-residence Sidra Bell for the Harvard Dance Project in 2016. Also in 2016, Ms. Johnson created a new commissioned work for The Boston Ballet II company which premieres in 2017. 

She also choreographs for film and television, notably a series of dance film shorts for Bravo arts channel in Canada, is a featured performer in Forsythe's Clear House Dance, and music videos for German techno artist Sven Vaeth and American singer-songwriter David Poe. Recent artistic residencies include a The New School University, and at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York City where she also collaborated with Mikhail Baryshnikov and William Forsythe on a solo for Mr. Baryshnikov. Ms. Johnson has also choreographed for theater and served as movement director for Eve Ensler’s play In the Body of the World at American Repertory Theater, Spring 2016.  

She has served as a faculty member and designed curricula for Princeton University, Barnard College at Columbia University, The Juilliard School, New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, The Joffrey School, The New School University, and The Ailey School, and is a founding collaborator of the Movement Invention Project (MIP) in New York where she has also been Choreographer-In-Residence. Ms. Johnson has taught master classes at Yale University, and Ohio State University where she collaborated on the award-winning OSU/Forsythe Company web-based project Synchronous Objects.

Her awards include the Peter Dwyer Scholarship and the Loewen, Ondaatje, McCutcheon Award for most outstanding effort and achievement in dance at Canada’s National Ballet School; Balletanz Magazine International, Annual Critics' Awards: Most Outstanding Dancer; Time Out New York, Best Choreography in New York, Honorable Mention List, for The Copier; Communication Arts 2010 Interactive Annual Award for Synchronous Objects.

Ms. Johnson serves as a master teach at the YoungArts Foundation, and artistic advisor for former New York City Ballet principal dancer Wendy Whelan's project Restless Creature. Recent collaborations include those with the Harvard Choruses, Harvard Mahindra Humanities Center, Boston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Dries Van Noten and the Louvre Musee des Arts Decoratif, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Christopher Roman, artistic director of DANCE ON ENSEMBLE, in a new work by William Forsythe titled Catalogue (First Edition). After the premiere of Catalogue (First Edition) in October 2016 in Ludwigshafen, Germany, Ms. Johnson is performing the work with Christopher Roman at Harvard Univeristy in Spring 2017 and at Sadler's Wells Theatre, London, in June 2017.