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Princess H Johnson

Princess H Johnson

I got an email today from a parent who had no idea Misty Copeland came 

to Greensboro. This is actually about the 10th time I've had this.  It's

upsetting when someone emails me or calls me and tells me they didn't know.
We sent out 124 personal invitations via mail and email as well as made a
personal call to several dance companies and studios across North Carolina. 




This was a great opportunity for aspiring dancers, yet people let their pride and

competitive mindsets get in the way of extending a once in a lifetime experience

to their students.  We are a community organization.  We want to connect our

community to professional dance.  We have no desire to steal students...we just

want to help dancers in our region broaden their experience and resume so that

they can have a fighting chance in the professional dance world.  



Also, the more we don't support these artists when they come to our area, the less

they will come.  Word travels...no one wants to come to a place that people show

a lack of interest and support of one another and their industry.  Just something to

think about for all the dance professionals out there.  If this is really your passion

and your really are a professional, then please do not be afraid to share a wonderful

opportunity and experience with your students.  They will appreciate it and benefit from it.



With that said, North Carolina, let's redeem ourselves.  Alicia Graf Mack - former lead dancer for Alvin Ailey and ballerina at Dance Theatre of Harlem will be here July 31 and August 1 teaching master classes.  Tickets can be purchased at http://tinyurl.com/reboxoffice Please share and support dance in NC.  Also, if you have anything coming up and going on, please share with me.  I love to support dance across our state and beyond 			  </div>
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Well, yesterday was a great day!  We got back to Greensboro at about 7:30 pm last night and Shane and I went on and dropped off the van rentals, then headed home.  Boy was I tired.  But on to how our last day went:


We all felt confident in navigating the city and our groups were much smaller -- everyone was trying to get check off the last things on their lists of must see and must do in NYC.  My husband and I got up to visit a church called Journey Church in the Hotel Pennsylvania right across the street from Madison Square Gardens...anytime we go to a new city, we love to go check out churches and meet new people.  Two more accompanied us there.


After church, we got ready to go see the statue of liberty while others went on to explore the city or take dance classes at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and Alvin Ailey.  Most the younger children and their parents went to the Statue of Liberty and myself and my husband.  We went to wait for the train and it took way longer than expected because of construction.  The train finally came, but I was worried we wouldn't make it to the ferry in time to take it to the Statue of Liberty.  Then, we learned we needed to be in the first five cars of the train to get off at the South Ferry stop.  We were in the last car!  So when the train stopped at Rector St we had to run to the front of the train to get in the right cars.  With 9 people this was quite frantic! LOL!  We all made it onto the front of the train safely and got off at the South Ferry with only 8 minutes to get to the Statue of Liberty Ferry.


We all went running through Battery Park...just to get into a very long line and then we realized, that 1:00 pm we the check in time...not the time the ferry leaves.  So we all relaxed, looked out at the water while we were in line and listened to the sounds of a man with a ukelele singing.  He noticed how we were enjoying him and he asked us where we were from.  We said North Carolina...he then sang an impromtu song and mentioned the Tarheels, Demon Deacons, and Wolfpack as well as Winston-Salem, Asheville, Charlotte, and Raleigh...no mention of Greensboro ☹ Then he noticed one of our dance "nanas" as we've affectionately called her this weekend and said "I noticed your not wearing a ring" then sang a song to her.  She was grinning from cheek to cheek and took out a fan and started fanning herself.  The kids thought this was hilarious, and her granddaughter was utterly embarrassed.  LOL!!


So we finally boarded the ferry and crossed the harbor to get to the Statue of Liberty.  It was very relaxing and calming to rock on the boat.  We docked and went towards the Statue.  There were 2 options - take 195 steps to the pedastal or take the elevator.  Shane and myself decided to do the stairs...mind you I'm still sore from yesterday's class! All the kids - 5 total - decided to go with us.  I told them okay, once we start there's no going back!!  We all made it to the top and met up with the parents and nana then walked outside and saw NYC from afar.  It was breathtaking.  We stood there and took several pictures, then came back down, bought some souvenirs, then caught the ferry back to the city.


It was 5 pm and just a few more hours left in the city.  We all went our separate ways to explore and do our last minute things.  Our group venture to Times Square to look around and shop.  I finally got a slice of NYC pizza and devoured it.  Then later we ate at Stardust Restaurant.  This was a cool place.  The servers must audition to work there and then during their shift they sing and perform for everyone.  The servers were all wonderful and we had a great time.  After that we headed back to the hotel and just soaked in the weekend chatting about our adventures.


This trip was truly a great experience!  I'm so thankful to Mel Wathen for giving me a call to encourage us to come.  I am so glad we had such an amazing, adventurous group.  This was a great trip and I'm looking forward to planning our trip to Philadelphia, PA!  Their dance scene is a lot different, but I think just as amazing.  Until next time...


- Princess

Yesterday was equally exciting and busy.  I think all the dancers woke up inspired and ready to take their dance classes after watching the New York City Ballet.  First up was a private master class with Ashley Klinger.  She is a musical theatre dancer and she did an "A Chorus Line Class" with them.  She then sat down with the dancers and did a question and answer with them to share more about her dance career.  It was very informative and the major takeaway was if you want to dance for a living then be versatile.  Learn as many dance skills as you can and if you want to be on Broadway then you need to learn to sing!!!


We had planned to go to Dance Theatre of Harlem next, but since they won't have any classes until the fall, we walked around the city and made our way to the American Girl Store...3 levels of dolls and accessories!  I was excited because my husband spotted Kate Levering!  She played Kim Caswell on Drop Dead Diva!  I got a picture with her and saw her cute little baby bump!!


Since we were just a few blocks from Alvin Ailey, myself and the teen dancers went there for our Dunham class and ballet class.  Now I have been introduced to Dunham technique for choreography purposes or as a part of a modern or jazz class, but never the warm up that is associated with her technique!  That was the most intense warm up ever!  But I loved it.  It was very good for the core, legs, and back.  I think I will begin incorporating some of the concepts I learned.


The instructor of the Dunham class was intense too...she sat in a chair with a cane and belted out all of our instructions from the chair.  She was quite the perfectionist and would not move on until we all had it right.  We held positions for quite some time and it was very challenging!


After that class we were quite worn out and sure we worked every single bone and muscle in our body, but we were already registered for ballet.  So we decided to stick it out...in walks this handsome male instructor with a coffee cup and he says "Good morning!" with a French accent and smile.  We all laugh because it's 4 pm!  I'm relieved because after that intense instructor, we could use the comic relief.  His light hearted spirit continued with the class.  We only had enough time to do the ballet barre and an adage, then we had to make our way back to the hotel.


We navigated our way back to the 1 train to Penn Station by using our knowledge we've developed in the day and half.  We were pretty excited because we learned the NYC grid and got back in a good amount of time to eat and get ready to go see Giselle at ABT. 


Everyone met up in the Lincoln Center Plaza and made their way into the theatre and WOW - another breathtaking theatre.  There was red velvet carpet and white marble everywhere.  We sat pretty high up, but were able to see the orchestra and stage at the same time.  Of course I was just elated when Misty Copeland came out and did a solo!  This was my first time seeing her dance in person.  The scenery was beautiful and the dancers were all in sync and nailed the very complex choreography.


After the show we all headed back to the hotel.  This morning I'll be going to church and spending some time with my husband, there's a few of us that will go take some more classes, but I plan on just taking in the city: go to church, see the statue of Liberty, visit Bleeker street for a nostalgia moment with my husband, and then hang out at Central Park.  It should be fun!


Sad today is the last day, but we're going to make it a good one!

It is 7:53 am and I've been up since 7 so excited and still full of energy from last night!! But before I go into detail about last night...let's start at the beginning.  Last year, Mel Wathen gave me a call from NYC Ballet and invited us to go see a show.  I thought...why not?  So I contacted some of my favorite studio owners and asked if they'd like to go to NYC together to go see NYC Ballet, take some classes, and just explore the city.  Fast forward to this pass Thursday and 11 of us from Royal Expressions piled into 2 vans at 11:15 pm then picked up 9 more from Graceful Expressions Dance Education Center in Cary, NC and left at 1 am to head for NYC!!!!


I had the pleasure (sense my sarcasm?) of driving into the city and as soon as we got out of the Lincoln Tunnell, honk, honk!  The music of NYC!  We found our hotel very easily, but tried to park our all too big van in the unload zone unsuccessfully, so we had to circle the block to get back to the hotel and go on and park the vans in the parking garage.  Well an hour later we circled the block!  lol!


Once we got to the hotel our fingers were crossed that our rooms would be ready, but only 1 room was ready.  So all 19 of us hung out in our one room until the other rooms became available.  We all got our metro passes, ate some food, the younger kids took showers, and we just kind of killed time until we met up in the lobby at about 4 pm.


We got very simple instructions for how to get to the Lincoln Center area.  We're in a great spot here.  Our hotel is right by Penn Station!  So we head up to the subway and we all get on a train...in the wrong direction! LOL!  We get off and get back on and find our way to Lincoln Center and WOW!  Absolutely beautiful!  Seeing the giant poster of dancers and NYC Ballet Koch Theatre and the Met Opera for ABT from one view was just mesmerizing.  There was also a beautiful fountain right in the middle of the plaza.  We immediately went into tourist mode and took out our phones and took pictures to capture all of it the best we could!  It was so exciting!!! 


After we took some pictures and got a bite to eat, we finally met up with Mel Wathen in the beautiful Kock Theatre lobby, who had just been so supportive and helpful in getting us to NYC.  To my shock, she was much more...let's say uh, seasoned, then I had expected.  She has such a great personality and I discovered she came to the big city from Texas - that southern hospitality never left her!!!


Mel introduced us to Faye Arthurs, a soloist for New York City Ballet and she gave us backstage tour of the theatre and WOW - it's so beautiful!  The architecture of the the theatre is to feel like your sitting in a jewelry box and the dancers on stage are the ballerina inside.  After our tour we stood on the balcony of the Koch theatre and looked out over the plaza.  It was very relaxing.


We went on inside and took our awesome seats Mel got for us in the orchestra and watched a spectacular show by the NYC Ballet dancers.  They did a classical ballet piece that was very complicated and fast, then a romantic neo-classical piece that I even saw some elements of Martha Graham technique in, and finally a musical theatre piece.  I think the most amazing thing about the show as that they had recasted 5 people just hours before the show due to injury. 


My thoughts from day 1...it is amazing the energy and work ballerinas and ballet danseurs put into their bodies, but it is even more amazing how they can learn things so quickly and retain so much information in such a short span of time for stellar performances.  Could you imagine your boss coming into your office and saying they need a detailed analysis from you in 2 hours and you will present it to 2500 people?  How many of us would gracefully accept that challenge without freaking out?  Not many, but that is what professional dancers do - they are always ready and willing to take on the next challenge.  They are passionate about their profession and give their all.


Well, time to get on with our day: A Chorus Line master class, Alvin Ailey, and exploration...we're all bummed that the Dance Theatre of Harlem is not offering anymore classes until this fall...

So Christmas time is upon us and children are submitting their list of gift ideas.  Long gone are the days of an inexpensive toy to fulfill their desires...now they want expensive things like Jordans, Ipads, Iphones, etc and their only 8 years old! Yikes!  I have no idea how parents deal with this change in taste for children so young.  It must be so challenging to fulfill their desires, especially with the economy still not quite stable.  

There comes a time when parents have to make tough decisions to stay within their budget.  I challenge parents this year to think of a gift that will develop your child physically, mentally, and emotionally...a gift that will teach them valuable skills that will be needed well into adulthood...I don't know something like DANCE CLASSES! :)

Check out my YouTube video that compares purchasing an Iphone 6 to investing in dance lessons for your child.  Enjoy!









       Before I could dance I choreographed.  I didn’t know my gift was special until I pursued formal dance training in college and realized that not every dancer could choreograph.  In fact, many were content just being dancers. 


       Me?  I can see music.  I can’t read it, but when I hear music playing I see people moving through space, I see costumes, I see emotions…sometimes the visions become so clear and so real, I have to make it happen.  All of my life I loved dance, but never had consistent dance training, but I had plenty of chances to perform at school, church, and extracurricular activities.   I loved being on the stage dancing!


       My mom helped me develop my craft of choreography at a very young age, 8 years old.  My dad was a pastor and she wanted me to dance at church.  She would tell me to listen to the music and what it means, take the words and move to it.  When it was time to graduate high school, I knew I needed to keep dancing, so I went to UNCG and began consistent, formal dance training.  It was then I also learned that I knew nothing about dance technique and I had a lot of work to do, but I worked hard. 


       Going in jazz was my favorite and hip hop trailing behind in second.  That’s to be expected from a black girl right?  Ballet I openly rejected throughout my life, but looking back I secretly loved it.  The problem was I was afraid of it, because I didn’t believe I could do it.  My round back side didn’t fit the profile, I didn’t have enough training, and it was so hard!  But, as I continued to learn the vocabulary and develop my technique, I found out that ballet was the dance I always had in my heart.  It is me.  Very particular and demanding, yet soft and graceful, oftentimes misunderstood.  It has become the foundation of all of my movement and though I am not the best at it…I love how it demands perfection, as so do I…so me and ballet?  We are two peas in a pod.  


Wow!  We made it 5 years!  This has been an incredible journey.  It has not always been easy, but I would not change a thing because building this company has taught me so many life lessons.  

I have met some amazing people!  First off, the love of my life, my husband Shane.  When I met him the dance company was not even a year old, but he jumped right in and supported me from the start.  He is and will always be my number one fan and supporter.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful man to provide for us as we build this company.  I love you and thank you for everything you do for me!  I also met Chandra, our current board president of 3 years.  She has become a friend and confidante.  Always steering me in the right direction, providing encouragement when needed, and honest feedback to help me become the best leader I could possibly be!  Then we have had some amazing volunteers throughout the years jumping in and lending a hand when they can: Daniele Lambb, Jenn and Quan Dixon, Sasha Wright, Tandrea Wright, Danielle Crosby, Gene Bordinger, Shelby and Dan Ellenbogen, Tony, Ashlee Wiley, Natelle Miller, Brittany Davis, Donevan Cherry, Pam Green.

I remember the excitement of filing my paperwork and getting the key to that little building on Chapman St and then going around to different events handing out flyers.  I remember teaching adult classes for 9 months before I finally enrolled a school aged child, Marin Bordinger.  She was 8 then and now she is 13, a teenager.  It has been a joy not just teaching her, but watching her grow into a beautiful, smart, young woman.  It brings me great joy to know that I have had a part in her life.  Marin and her parents have been my rock over the years.  Always encouraging me to keep pushing and letting me make mistakes, forgiving me, and allowing me to learn as we have grown.  I appreciate you investing not just your money in me, but your faith.  I will always cherish and value that!

To my company dancers, those who endured hours of rehearsal with me just to make my visions come to pass, I thank you. Rachel Lewis, Michelle Driskell, Monet Stearns, Hannah Brown, Emma Elliot, Alex Aparicio, Zakkiya Villegas, Chelsea Brown, Shanelle, Claytor, Daniele Lambb, and Blaire Andrews you have no idea how much you have meant to this company.  My ballets, Journey to Become, BLOOM, Never Lose Your MOMENTUM, and the Christmas Shoes all meant so much to me and without you no one would have ever been touched by them.

To the numerous donors we have had over the years, I thank you for seeing our need and funding it.  Without your financial support, none of my visions or dreams could have happened!  You gave when nothing existed.  You believed in what Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet was capable of and made a gesture to make it happen!  Thank you!

To my family and friends that have encouraged me, supported me, and prayed for me, I thank you!  

To the families that enrolled your children for dance lessons, I feel like you have become my family.  Thank you for entrusting your children to Royal Expressions School of Dance.  There are lots of dance studios in Greensboro, but you have chosen to invest your time and money in Royal Expressions with the faith that we will return to you a child who is not only a great dancer, but a better person, more confident, poised, and disciplined. 

To the 5 Year Anniversary Dream Team: Chandra and Donevan Cherry, Natell Miller, Brittany Davis, Jenn Dixon, Shane Johnson, Ashlee Wiley, and Tandrea Wright.  You guys were just absolutely incredible!  You spent hours planning, meeting, and doing what it took to make our 5 year anniversary an occassion to remember!  We raised funds to fly Misty Copeland in first class, pay for her hotel, host a NC Dance Professional Breakfast, 2 Master Classes with Misty Copeland, a lecture with Misty, a book signing, a double feature production Journey to Become/BLOOM, and recital!  I thank you for your dedication to see this project through from beginning to end!

If I forgot to mention please charge it to my head and not my heart. There have been so many that have touched this organization that I could go on for days on end.  Some impacts were greater than others, but please know if did not go unnoticed when it happened.  I am truly grateful and give God the glory for what He has done through me at Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet.  I am living my dreams...a dream I had 15 years ago.  I am grateful and I look forward to what is in store the next 5 years!

To anyone who would like to see us continue to grow and make an impact on our community, please give at http://bit.do/recbdonate 

Thank you!  Here's to 5 more years and counting!


Back to school time means back to extracurricular activities for the children time. We all know the benefits of a well-rounded child and there are so many after school activities available for children, it may be hard to decide what your child should do. Dance is a great activity that should be added the list of things to scope out for your children. As a matter of fact here are 7 reasons why your child should take a dance class:

1. Dance class promotes fitness! No matter what style of dance, your child will be moving. They will be getting the necessary exericise needed each day. Studies recommend 30 minutes of exercise each day for your child. The average dance class lasts 30 minutes to an hour. Most of the time your child may take more than one style. It also gives a good all around workout. Most dance classes begin with a stretching for flexibility, have some type of cardio section, and then a cool down at the end. It's exactly what your child needs to stay fit!

2. Dance class builds high self-esteem! Dance teachers promote expression, smiling, and reflection. Children can express themselves through movement. They are constantly asked to smile until it becomes a habit. Finally, they are constantly given an opportunity to look at themselves in the mirror and learn to present themselves in a way that is pleasing to themselves.

3. Dance class promotes social development! Dance class lets children move around and communicate with each other. The entire class works off of one another's energy and personalities to learn and perform class dances.

4. Dance class teaches discipline! Children who take a dance class learn how to control their energy in their body through technique training.

5. Dance class builds focus! Dance requires much concentration and determiniation in order to get moves right, retain choreography, and perform it beautifully.

6. Dance builds good posture! We all know a dancer when we see one. They have a straight back, shoulders slightly back and their chin up! All of that comes from years of keeping your head off the floor, pushing your shoulders back, and making sure we aren't slouching or hyperextending our backs.

7. Dance class is fun! Overall, the best reason for a child to take dance is because of the rewarding fun they will have. They will meet new people in an environment where they are free to express themselves! What kid wouldn't want to do that?!

Read more of my articles at: http://www.examiner.com/dance-in-greensboro/princess-howell

A Touching Note From Princess...

One of the most momentous event of my life happened on June 18, 2010 at the Dance/USA Conference awards ceremony which was held at the National Botanic Gardens in Washington, DC. It was beautiful and very elegant. At this event, I realized my endeavors to establish this dance company are far beyond my personal wants, but engulfed in my desire to bring dance to Greensboro and beyond is my passion for dance and those before me, as well as those around me. The vision for this company cannot only be my vision, but all inclusive of those who have experienced and pioneered dance in the past, those who are shaping it now, and those who will be affected by it in the future.

At the awards ceremony, I was greatly moved by the presentation of the 2010 "Ernie" award in which Lar Lubovitch so eloquently spoke about what dance is...it was the best, most moving explanation I had ever heard and I wish with all my heart that I could regurgitate it word for word for you, but as the words flowed out of his mouth, my eyes welled up with tears and flowed down my face because his words described exactly what I feel about dance. Next, Gus Solomons, Jr. presented the 2010 Honor Award to Carmen de Lavallade for 60 YEARS in service as a dance artist! I was once again greatly moved and watched teary-eyed as a beautiful, black woman spoke about her adventures as a dancer.

She made me realize just how much of a path my ancestors paved for me as a black female. I was able to speak with her following the ceremony and she wiped my tears and told me that she is proud of me and that she wishes the best for me. We took a picture together. I will never forget that moment and that night when Carmen de Lavallade wiped my tears and told me she was proud of me and Lar Lubovitch spoke perfect words about dance. It was truly an honor to be in their presence and to get so close to them. In that short time, I was taught the importance of humility and never giving up.


- Princess Howell Johnson, Founding Director