Ariyan Johnson, a native New Yorker, is a graduate from La Guardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where she studied dance, she holds a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology and an M.A. in Applied Theatre. Ariyan creates strong female perspectives within the African Diaspora culture specializing in theatrical methods and Hip Hop, Jazz, Afro-Fusion Modern, and African dance forms. She is a multi-disciplinary artist, known for her Independent Spirit Award best female lead nominated performance in the Sundance Special Jury Prize Awarded film – Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., where she represented Hip Hop female dance duos. Some other credits include Law and Order; J.A.G.; The General’s Daughter with John Travolta; Bulworth with Warren Beatty and Halle Berry, where she depicted a rapper influencing Hip Hop culture on the political landscape; and a series regular on The Steve Harvey Show. Johnson’s voice-over work includes cartoons, radio, and television campaigns.
Ms. Johnson’s early work contributed to the beginning of the commercialization of Hip Hop dance, having worked with pioneers of the field. As a professional dancer, she has either danced, choreographed, and toured worldwide for an array of artists such as L.L. Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, Ms. Melodie, Prince Markie Dee from The Fat Boys, Ya Kid K, 2 in a Room, Mary J Blige, Mariah Carey, and many more; having gone to such places as the Philippines, Japan, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand to name a few. She was a featured member of Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theatre and Ronn Pratt’s Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Companies and began her community work exploring jazz-based dances of protest with Eleo Pomare’s Dancemobile. Her community work continued throughout her ten years as Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of Faithful Dance Company (F.D.C.). Among the many things she accomplished during her tenure at F.D.C., Ariyan also taught dance to deaf participants, organized social justice initiatives, and created interactive performances at Faithful Central Bible Church, housed at the 18,000 seated arena – The Great Western Forum. Through her own company, D.I.M.A.B.A. founded in 1991; she is a community partner with Los Angeles United School District, where she artistically engages high school students in educational activism. As an educator, she taught drama conventions and Hip Hop dance to genocide survivors at the University of Rwanda (formerly Kigali Institute of Education in Rwanda, Africa); having also taught at Pasadena City College, Studio School (formerly Relativity Education), UCLA EXT, Kansas University, and N.J.P.A.C. (New Jersey Performing Arts Center).
Ariyan, a three-time recipient of the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs Artist-in-Residence grant, enjoys inspiring communities through artistic expressions through her intergenerational theatrical work with storytelling. Currently, Ms. Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Dance at University of California, Irvine.
As a multidisciplinary artist, I wanted to explore the abstract housed in the familiar through dance. In my first short film, Triggered, I wanted to play with the idea of a “silent film” that is loaded with visual meaning relevant for today’s world.