Dance Masters: Alan Johnson

Feb 13, 2016

Choreographer Alan JohnsonI’m always amazed when I’m teaching a class and I make reference to one of the great choreographers or dancers of our time and no one knows who I’m talking about…and I think to myself how unfortunate for them not to have experienced such greatness and artistry!

So, I decided to talk about one Dance Master every newsletter to inspire, re-inspire and educate us all. I feel it’s important to always remember our roots, where we came from, how things developed and know who paved the way on the road of dance. Those who, through the years, changed dance permanently and influenced society with their creativity and innovation for the better.

I’ve chosen Alan Johnson as my first dance master to celebrate and acknowledge. Like so many other choreographers and dancers I feel Alan is a true choreography genius and a wonderful dancer. Alan truly knows how to entertain an audience, with his smooth elegant classical jazz style and unbelievable humor, bringing out the best in every artist he works with. He is magical!

An industry veteran of theater, nightclub, television, cinema and any dance for the camera, Alan Johnson is a 3-time Emmy award winner best known for his work on Mel Brooks films and for restaging Jerome Robbins original choreography in live productions of West Side Story in the United States and internationally. He has been linked to West Side Story since making his Broadway debut in the show in 1957. Alan brought the West Side Story dance style into the mainstream when he choreographed several Gap commercials in 2000. This commercial earned him an American Choreography award.

My personal favorites are the shows and numbers he created for Shirley MacLaine, Ann-Margret, Chita Rivera, Debbie Allen and Tommy Tune to name a few. Little did I know when I first met Alan that he was the master mind behind all that inspired me to be an artist as a little girl—the variety specials I watched while snuggled next to my father on the couch, laughing and being entertained by the greatest. It is funny in life how things come around again.

You must know now how fortunate I feel to call this man my dear friend and mentor. I hope you enjoy this overview of Alan’s work! I look forward to sharing some full length pieces of his with you in the near future. 🙂


  1. Christopher Callen

    So loved seeing this clip of Alan Johnson ‘s work again —I am so blessed that I got to meet him through you . Thank you for educating us all to his brilliance, Mastery and humor. Amazing !!!!

    • Ray Azevedo

      Dito!! Me to!!

  2. Ray Azevedo

    I to was honored to meet him many years ago in the mid 70’s at Roland Dupree dance academy in los Angela’s , what a talented man !! Im sorry he’s gone!!


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