Carole Johnson's legacy is incredible. Carole grew up in Philadelphia, USA where she discovered her love for dance. She trained in ballet under Sydney Gibson King and later with British choreographer Antony Tudor. Carole graduated from the Juilliard School in New York in 1963.
In 1966, Carole joined the Eleo Pomare Dance Company, as a dancer and an important advocate for African-American dance. Carole has danced in works including: The Angels Are Watching Over Me, Construction in Green, From the Soul, as Bessie Smith in Gin, Woman, Distress and as Angela Davis in Jailhouse Blues.
Carole first visited Australia in an important time for the fight for rights and recognition of Australia’s First Nations people. It was in 1972, when the Eleo Pomare Dance Company performed for Adelaide Festival, that Carole was exposed the huge inequities in Australia between First Nation Australians and the rest of the population. While in Adelaide Carole was asked by the Australia Council for the Arts' Indigenous Officer, Jennifer Isaacs, to teach some dance workshops in the significant urban centre for Indigenous Australians, Redfern, Sydney. Carole’s advocacy and activism started in earnest, developing a deep appreciation and respect for Indigenous Australians.
Carole was the founding director of the National Aboriginal and Islander Skills Development Council (NAISDA). Through a deepening relationship formed over a decade Carole worked with Yirrkala people from the Northern Territory and the Lardil people from Mornington Island (Kunhanha). In 1989, Carole founded the now world renowned Bangarra Dance Theatre.
Carole Johnson was inducted into The Australian Dance Awards the Hall of Fame in 1999 for her work with NAISDA Dance College, AIDT and Bangarra Dance Theatre. Carole was also awarded an Australian Government Centenary medal recognising her contribution to Australia’s Indigenous community in 2003.
You can find out more:
Read more about female leadership in dance from Jordan Beth Vincent.
This season produced in partnership with Ausdance Victoria. Delving into Dance is completely self-funded. If you have enjoyed this episode please consider leaving a donation. Contributions keep this little project going strong, and are the only source of funding for this project.