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Florida State University


Dance, to Millicent Johnnie, is a means of survival. "I dance to rejuvenate my spirit and stay balanced. It is the language I use to communicate with my ancestors, and it heightens my awareness to social conditions that were plastered upon countless people of color throughout the world."

Millicent completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Florida State in 2002, and immediately began teaching at Tulane University in New Orleans. Then, Hurricane Katrina hit. She and her family lost everything.

She considers FSU to be her "home away from home," so when the Department of Dance gave her the opportunity to pursue her master's degree, she did not hesitate. "Returning to a familiar place and being shown so much love and support made our transition during a time of uncertainty much easier." The entire Dance faculty was very supportive – sharing their homes, equipping an Alumni Village townhouse for her and her younger brother, and offering kind words when she felt shaky.

She also believes that FSU's Dance department "is one of the nation's most prestigious programs of study. The faculty is comprised of artists who are highly visible in the field and who are committed to achieving academic excellence." Since arriving she has focused on research, which supports her artistic vision as a choreographer. Her creations have been performed by the Urban Bush Women, the Hubbard Street Dance Company of Chicago, and at a number of universities and dance festivals throughout the country.

Born and raised in Louisiana, Millicent uses its rich cultural heritage in her choreography. "My works bring testimony to truths that may have been undervalued or gone unnoticed. By giving voice to these untold stories, I am a vessel that reflects the people, customs, and traditions." She has been researching the connections between indigenous Louisiana dance forms to that of Brazil and Cuba, through the Atlantic slave trade. Because of her work, she was honored with the Graduate Student Research and Creativity Award (Arts and Humanities category).

Her choreographic work, Sincerely, Katrina Jones, focuses on Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, using the Hip Hop aesthetic as a vehicle. Response to injustice is a recurring theme in Hip Hop, and this work illustrates the struggles of the Creoles, descendents of enslaved Africans brought to the New World during the Colonial Period. Since its premier, the work has been presented in Miami and New York City, and will be performed throughout the country by Gulf Coast Alternate Roots.

Millicent plans to sustain a strong record of creative achievement in performance and choreography. She explains, "I did not choose Dance as a profession; this art form clearly chose me."

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