A child of South Louisiana and daughter of dance, Ms. Johnnie follows in the footsteps of her immediate ancestors and dance heroines. Her father, Donald Briggs, a zydeco and blues musician, toured with Bobby Bland and Buckwheat Zydeco. Her mother, Geneva Johnnie, Louisiana history teacher and historian, placed the biographies of Katherine Dunham and Alvin Ailey within her reach. Her grandmother, Alma Briggs, was a Zydeco dance queen who took her last breath on the dance floor.
As a teenager, Johnnie hosted a local social justice TV show met by protests from the KKK; she traces her professional determination and commitment to social issues in Black culture to this early opposition. She was a teaching artist with the Performing Arts Society of Acadiana (PASA) and after two seasons there, became an instructor with Universal Dance Association. While in New Orleans, she served on the faculties at Tulane University and Dillard University before signing a commercial dance contract with the Bloc South talent agency.
As a two-time United States Artists nominee in dance, former Associate Artistic Director of Urban Bush Women with choreography featured on ESPN, the Prince William Network and Sunshine Networks, Johnnie worked A&R through Marvelous Enterprises, bringing her diverse experiences in theater and dance into the music industry. After choreographing Broadway-bound “Thoughts of a Colored Man”, produced by Syracuse Stage and Baltimore Center Stage, she received her MFA in film, specializing in producing and story development. In collaboration with Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, her NEFA National Dance Project “Bamboula: Musicians’ Brew” inspired her short film “Bamboula is Not Bamboozled” and with significant support from the National Carnival Commission of Trinidad and Tobago, she developed and produced “La DiaBlesse Curse”; both toured the film festival circuit in South Africa, Trinidad, and Tobago. Her hybrid concert film, “Pulling Back the Curtain”, released in 2020, exposed the Ballet world’s fragility and reckoning with the intersection of COVID-19 and systemic oppression. She is also known for her choreography in the major motion picture “Scary Movie 5” and is currently in post-production for her feature “Ma Negresse” featuring Grammy nominated fiddle player, Cedric Watson.
Ms. Johnnie’s kinesthetic language is robust; a patois of African, American, and European ideals— from classical African dance to European classical forms, hip hop and folk. The infinite variation she offers through the work she creates or performs whether for large scale stage productions like Disney’s “Frozen: Live at the Hyperion” and operas like “Parable of the Sower”, in academia, for commercial film and television such as the National Basketball Association and the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympic Games/ Rio2016, or for world- renowned ensembles like Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, is layered with soul, intellectual rigor and curiosity, scholarship and grace.
Selected theatrical credits include: Cry You One “CREATIVE CAPITAL AWARD”; Ameriville produced by Universes; Parable of the Sower the Opera produced by Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon; We are Proud to Present a Presentation and The Shipment produced by UnderMain Theater; Cubamor produced by Village Theater; Universes’ Party People produced by OSF, Berkeley Repertory Theater “TBA AWARD, BEST CHOREOGRAPHY” and The Public Theater “2017 AUDELCO AWARD, CHOREOGRAPHY NOMINATION”; Robert Wilson’s Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter Opera, The Love Project produced by Rhodessa Jones and Cultural Odyssey; Symphony for the Dance Floor produced by Sozo Artists and Brooklyn Academy of Music; Walt Disney Creative Entertainment’s Frozen: Live at the Hyperion; Rent produced by Ferndale Repertory Theater receiving awards for "BEST DIRECTOR" and "BEST MUSICAL". Johnnie also directed and choreographed West Side Story for the historic Howard Theater in South Africa and performed in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Brazil.
Selected music credits include: Tekitha Wisdom, Grammy artists Bill Summers/ Los Hombres Calientes, Usher Raymond, Chrisette Michele and various artists signed to Konvict Muzik.