Katie Johnson Takes Her Passion to The Stage
Maple Grove resident and ballerina Katie Johnson knew she was destined for the stage at just four years old.
“I used to beg my parents to take ‘dancing lessons class’ and they enrolled me in Butterfield Dance Studio,” she says.
As a kid, Johnson would sit at home and watch endless ballet videos, mimicking the dancer’s every move. At five years of age, the prodigy started competing in solo competitions and by the age of eight, she performed in the Nutcracker with the Joffrey Ballet.
“I wanted to be the star of the show someday,” she says.
And for Johnson, stardom was not far behind. A 2002 Maple Grove High School graduate, she trained in all kinds of dance growing up (though ballet is her specialty) and was even the captain of the Maple Grove High School gymnastic team. One of this young dancer’s most memorable experiences on stage took place in her senior year during a solo at a dance competition. Johnson said she could tell after doing a particular little step that she had broken her foot. But, as they say, the show must go on—and that’s exactly what she did, finishing her dance without missing a step.
That same passion and endurance has brought Johnson to where she is today—a professional dancer. Since 2008, she has been a part of the Minnesota Dance Theatre as a full-time performer and she also teaches at In the Spotlight dance studio in Rogers.
“I enjoy teaching because I feel a personal responsibility to educate and prepare young dancers so that they may one day have the opportunity to experience all the fulfillment that I have in my career,” Johnson says.
Most recently, she was nominated for a Minnesota SAGE Award for Outstanding Dance Performer in 2011.
“I love performing. It’s the greatest part—sharing a story through movement that you would otherwise not be able to say,” she explains.
After high school, Johnson went on to receive her BFA in dance from the University of Iowa and danced on stages around the world. Since then, the esteemed dancer has lived and performed in New York City, worked with the Beijing Dance Academy in China and danced with a company in Mexico City.
“I love seeing the dance community in these different places—getting to explore the world while doing my career,” Johnson says.
Even though she has enjoyed many successes, her career hasn’t come without its own challenges. Johnson says her body is often in pain—her joints feeling like they are fused together.
But for Johnson, the most beneficial attribute she has learned to implement as a professional dancer is maintaining a thick skin.
“I have to withstand constant critique and the challenges of perfecting an un-perfectible art form,” she says. “Thick skin helps me wake up in the morning and enter work with a smile on my face. Dance is my passion, my endless challenge—that’s why I love it so much.”
For more information on Johnson’s performances, visit mndance.org
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