Faculty Name

Julie B. Johnson, Ph.D.


Chair of Dance & Performance Choreography, Assistant Professor


Dance Performance & Choreography


B.A.,  Marymount Manhattan College
M.S.,  Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy
Ph.D. Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance


Julie B. Johnson, Ph.D., is a dance artist and educator driven by the ways that dance can serve as a practice of inquiry, empathy, and empowerment. Her creative practice, Moving Our Stories, uses participatory dance and embodied memory mapping to amplify the histories, lived experiences, and bodily knowledge of Black women. Dr. Johnson is an assistant professor and chair of the Department of Dance Performance & Choreography, and is affiliated faculty of Spelman’s African Diaspora & the World Program.

Dr. Johnson’s current work, "Idle Crimes & Heavy Work" (ICHW), is a dance and multimedia initiative through Moving Our Stories in collaboration with choreographer Tambra Omiyale Harris and community partner organization, Giwayen Mata. ICHW uses archival research (material and embodied), site-specific performance, dance films, workshops, and community gatherings to examine racial and gendered violence within Georgia’s history of incarceration, modes of resistance and restoration that have ensured Black women’s survival, and their historical connections to Atlanta’s cityscapes.

Idle Crime & Heavy Work’s dance film, “Visitation,” was featured in the American Dance Festival 2020 Movies by Movers Screendance festival;”Blowing Rock Arts Center’s virtual forum on social justice; and Djoli Kelen’s international virtual concert, “Passport To Our Community: Revolutions in Rhythms and Music.” ICHW developed in conjunction with Dr. Johnson’s participation as Co-Director and Choreographer in The Georgia Incarceration Performance Project, an archives-to-performance collaboration between the students and faculty of Spelman College and The University of Georgia, and a collective of artists, archivists, and incarcerated students enrolled in college courses at Georgia-area prisons.

Dr. Johnson is honored to have been selected as a Partners for Change Artist as part of the inaugural 2020-23 cohort through Alternate ROOTS and The Surdna Foundation. She is also the recipient of the inaugural Mellon-Funded Mini Research Grant through Spelman College’s Institute for Gender & Sexuality Studies in support of ICHW. Dr. Johnson was a 2021 Distinguished Fellow in-residence at the Hambidge Center made possible through the Georgia Council on the Arts Scholarship, and a member of the 2020-21 cohort of the Jacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion Institute. In 2019, she received the Arbes Award and Black Spatial Relics Residency Award for her work on Idle Crimes & Heavy Work, and she was a Hughley Artist Fellow as part of the final 2018-2019 cohort.

Dr. Johnson’s publications include “From Warm-up to Dobale: Experiences of Community in a West African Dance Class” in the anthology Hot Feet and Social Change: African Dance and Diaspora Communities; and “Dancing for Justice Philadelphia: Embodiment, Dance, and Social Change” in African American Art: Aesthetics, Activism, and Futurity. The former was published as part of the United Nation’s International Decade on People of the African Diaspora and features and preface and foreword by Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover. Her dance reviews are featured in regional online journals.

As a co-founder/consulting editor of The DancerCitizen — an online, open-access scholarly dance journal exploring the work of socially engaged artists — Dr Johnson co-creates digital space for artists working to map the intersections of dance-citizenship. She earned a Ph.D. in Dance Studies at Temple University's Boyer College of Music and Dance, researching meanings and experiences of ‘community’ in Philadelphia-based West African Dance classes.

Research Interests

Intersections of creative practice, community interaction, and social justice
African Diaspora movement practices
Embodied memory