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Phylicia Rashad to Honor Dance Legend Louis Johnson in UP IN THE AIR Tribute This Fall

UP IN THE AIR, a tribute to dance legend Louis Johnson, will take place Monday, October 5, 2015 at 7:00 pm in the Peter Norton Theater at Symphony Space located at 2537 Broadway in New York City. The event has two purposes: to honor the life and work of Johnson and to raise funds to complete a feature length documentary about the renowned dancer entitled UP IN THE AIR.

Tickets for the event are $125, 75 and $25 and can be purchased online at, calling 212.864.5400, and in person at the Symphony Space box office.

Louis Johnson, whom UP IN THE AIR is about, was born in Statesville, North Carolina March 19, 1931. Johnson was one of the first African Americans to perform in the ensemble of a Broadway show. Some of the shows that he danced in were Aida, House of Flowers, Hallelujah baby and both the stage and screen versions of Bob Fosses Damn Yankees.

As a choreographer Johnson created popular ballets for Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey. In 1970 he was nominated for a Tony Award for his choreography in the musical Purlie. One film that he is well known for choreographing is The Wiz, which starred Diana Ross and Michael Jackson.

The night will be hosted by Phylicia Rashad and include excerpts from Louis Johnson's choreographic works performed by the Philadelphia Dance Company (Philadanco!) and Howard University's department of dance.

Tony Award winner Melba Moore, who worked with Mr. Johnson on the musical Purlie and Marva Hicks of Motown The Musical, who was trained by Mr. Johnson at Howard University, will provide vocal selections. Last but not least, dancer/choreographer/teacher/filmmaker and UP IN THE AIR producer David Robertson will re-stage the Emerald city scene from the "The Wiz" movie utilizing some of the original dancers from the film.

If I can continue to produce and bring forth work that changes the way people, particularly today's youth, think about life and the world around them, then I am doing my chosen work.

Dance and theater luminaries such as Tony winners George Faison, Chita Rivera, will join Maurice Hines, Dr. Glory Van Scott and Carmen De Lavallade in paying tribute to their friend and colleague.

For more information about UP IN THE AIR, both the tribute event and the documentary, visit

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