Alumni & Friends of The Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center




JAZZ w/FRANK HATCHETT (11am to 12:30pm)

Entertainers, students, and dance teachers from all over the world come to study with Frank Hatchett. Frank has continuously toured the country giving master classes, and making special guest appearances. In addition, Frank has been one of the featured master teachers for the annual Jazz Dance World Congress.

The Hatchett style is a blend of strength, funk , and individual interpretation, with an emphasis on selling your performance. Associated exclusively to Frank Hatchett, his unique energy and spirit have come to be called VOP.

Aside from teaching, Frank has choreographed for all aspects of the entertainment industry. ABC's Good Morning America dubbed him "The Doctor of Jazz". CNBS's television documentary Real Stories featured a series on Frank, which later won an Emmy Award. Mr. Hatchett has also been featured on MTV's The Real World, and VH1's Driven. In 2000, Frank and Nancy yers Gitlin co-authored the pupular book titled Frank Hatchett's Jazz Dance. Frank was honored  as one of the recipients of the Fred Astaire Award in 2002. 

Frank and BJ were great friends and he taught the students of "the studio" for many years. His choreography includes Mission Soul, Shaft, and Son of Shaft.

AFRICAN w/LEE ACA THOMPSON (3:30pm to 5pm)

Master teacher, performer, choreographer, costume and fashion designer and internationally renown lecturer, Lee Aca Thompson is all of these and more. Mr. Thompson is internationally recognized for his comprehensive expertise in the art of tap, ballet, modern, and African, Caribbean and Eastern dance techniques on three continents. As a native of New York City, Mr. Thompson has studied and performed with many of the greatest performers and legendary choreographers of our times including Josephine Baker, Katherine Dunham, Syvilla Fort, Pearl Primus, ballet master Boris Novikoff, Doris Humphrey, Charles Weidman and Martha Graham.

Born Lee Lynn Thompson, he started teaching at the Bernice Johnson School of Performing Arts in 1952 and remained at “the studio” through 1982.  As a master teacher for the Bernice Johnson School of the Performing Arts, he influenced the artistic careers of generations of performing artists.  Notably among them are, Ben Vereen, Michael Peters – famed choreographer of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Kevin Lega Jeff - founder and director of   Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre, Valerie Pettiford of the Broadway production “FOSSE”, Cassandra Hudgen Grace (N’Care), rehearsal director/co-manager of Nannette Bearden who also is Mr. Thompson’s assistant artistic director and Luz Soliz, cultural anthologist of  the Gairfuna culture,  director and choreographer of Hamalai Wayunagn, Garifuna Folkloric Dance Co., who also studied under Mr. Thompson as well. Many of his students have founded dance companies and arts organizations that they continue to lead to this day.

His commitment as a dance educator for young people inspired him to develop and create a dance technique which Thompson calls the Piragramac Dance Technique. It is designed to prepare the dance body for all forms of dance.  This technique combines traditional African, South American, Caribbean dance forms as well as modern, jazz and tap techniques. Thompson’s Piragramac Dance Technique was demonstrated for the first time at Barnes and Noble Bookstore and included forty children. Acquired through much research and travel, this technique is the culmination of a life time of devotion to dance artistry.

Lee Aca Thompson implemented a “Rite of Passage” Program at the Garrett A. Morgan Elementary School #132 in the Bronx, NY. Thompson has been the visiting dance master and choreographer for the Artist Collective, Inc. of Hartford, Connecticut for over 25 years. His “Rite of Passage Yaboo Ceremony,” was conceived and choreographed for the Artist Collective in 1976, has been presented annually ever since. As the Collective’s principal choreographer, he has served as an artist-in-residence as the University of Connecticut, Howard University Dance Department, the Harvard Graduate School of the Arts in Education Program, NY University and the Bronx campus’ African American Dance Program  for NY City Department of Education.  He has developed and taught choreography for the Connecticut Valley Girls Scouts, the West Indian Social Club, the Hartford, Bloomfield and West Hartford school system and the Deeply Rooted Community Arts Organization in Chicago, Illinois.

His passions for dance and the community coupled with his ability to connect with diverse audiences of all ages have made him unique as an arts educator.  Lee Aca Thompson has been known as a man of the world and the community simultaneously since the 1960s.  His travels around the world have afforded him the opportunity to research many different cultures and share those influences with lovers of dance. He believes that the youth of today, are our future leaders and must have inspiring, positive motivation from their families and educators as well as from the community at large because art enhances life for us all.

MODERN w/KEVIN IEGA JEFF (5 to 6:30pm)

Kevin Iega Jeff began studying dance formally at age thirteen.  He trained at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, New York City’s High School for the Performing Arts, Darvash Ballet School, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center before matriculating into The Juilliard School.  As a dancer he has been praised for his technical brilliance and rigor, his dramatic power, and the singular ability to perform and bridge different dance forms in a seamless manner, whether it be ballet, modern, contemporary, or African American dance.

At the age of twenty one, Iega founded his first company, JUBILATION! Dance Company in New York City.  JUBILATION! was created out of a need to provide a forum for African-American artists to be nurtured holistically through the arts.  For ten years the company toured nationally and internationally, helping to bring the stories, histories, and art of the African American people as well as his unique approach to contemporary dance to a global audience.While continuing to perform as a dancer, it was at JUBILATION! that Iega began his life long pursuit of both choreographing new work and directing a company that would train a new generation of dancers and choreographers.  In 1994, he left New York to take up an appointment as Artistic Director of the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater.  In 1995, he co-founded Deeply Rooted Productions in Chicago where he continues to serve today as Artistic Director.  As a choreographer, Iega has created more than fifty works, ranging from solos to large-scale company dances, where he pushes contemporary dance to take cognizance of different voices and aesthetics. He primarily creates for Deeply Rooted, but also continuously receives commissions by other companies to create new works for them, such as the Alvin Ailey Dance Ensemble, River North Dance Company, Dallas Black Dance Theater, the Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, and the Wylliams/Henry Danse Theatre.In 2005, Iega was named as one of the Juilliard School’s 100 Outstanding Alumni in celebration of the school’s centenary anniversary.  Among his other awards are those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Council for Culture and Arts, and the BTAA Best Choreography award for Church of Nations. He received a Merit Award from the International Association of Blacks in Dance, and joined their Board in January 2006.  Most recently, Iega was awarded the 2009 Chicago Dance Makers Forum Grant to support the creation of I Am Deeply Rooted, which premiered in the Spring of 2010.Iega has served as artist-in-residence at Howard University, the University of Las Vegas, Goucher College, SUNY Purchase and at Purdue University’s Black Cultural Center. His work has been featured in several films, including Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It, and in the Broadway shows Comin’ Uptown and The Wiz.  Iega’s Walls premiered at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, GA.  In 2003, Iega and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater Associate Artistic Director Gary Abbott co-choreographed Jagged Ledges, featuring Tony Award-winning spoken word artist Staceyann Chin. In 2006, he and Abbott were commissioned to choreograph Three Brazilian Dances for the Chicago Sinfonietta, which premiered at Chicago’s Symphony Hall.


The below info is out of date and from our 2010 Reunion. Just wanted you to be able to see what you missed :)

JAZZ WORKSHOP w/Brice D. Vick (11am to 12pm)

A former student and teacher of The Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, Brice D. Vick is known in the industry for pushing the envelope and encouraging artists to take a chance at being different. He forges his clients to not only embrace what has already been done but also encourages them to take their performance to the next level - - stimulating audiences with something refreshingly new, distinctive, and most of all memorable.

Brice is perhaps best known for his work with BJ Alumni Ashanti. He choreographed many of her stage shows,  television appearances, and videos - most notably Ashanti’s hit single, “Only You”. He is also recognized for his work with recording artist Remy Ma including her “Conceited” and “Wuteva” videos.

Throughout his stint as a Dancer and Choreographer, Vick has brought his unique dance approach to an array of artists including R. Kelly, Christina Aguilera, Rah Diggah, Lenny Kravitz, Destiny's Child, Mobb Deep's Prodigy, Sticky Fingaz, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, Lords of the Underground, Jah Rule and Bobby Brown.


His work has traveled to some of the most recognizable stages in the nation including stops at The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. He has created production numbers for some of the most celebrated live stage performances including NBC's “Stars On Ice” featuring Figure Skater and Olympic Champion Sarah Hughes; NBC’s Drama Series, “Las Vegas, MTV's 2005 “Celebrity Basketball Tournament”; ABC's “American Music Awards”; BET’s “106th and Park”, and Nickelodeon’sAll That”.


Brice’s hot flashy style has afforded him the privilege to travel abroad, not only for choreographic opportunities but to conduct master classes at a variety of venues in South Asia, South Africa, Germany, Italy, Rome, and London. His most recent master classes generated over $10,000 for the local Katrina Relief Funds in Miami and West Palm Beach.

Vick accredits his versatility and authentic style to his dance training at the Bernice Johnson Dance Studio in Jamaica Queens, New Yo
rk, where he studied Classical Ballet, Jazz, Modern (Graham/Horton), traditional West African and Hip-Hop dance. He was also blessed with the opportunity to work with legendary Choreographers Michael Peters, Shirley Black Brown, Debbie Allen, David Robertson, Carla Earle, George Faison, and Tina Bush. He furthered his studies at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance where he received a Coca Cola Scholarship and awarded the Artistic Excellence Award over 500 candidates from around the world. Further training has also taken place The Dance Theater of Harlem and The Alvin Ailey School of American Dance.

Vick is grateful for the opportunities that have been presented to him throughout his career and he is anxious to have his talent visualized in Film and on Broadway. Whether it’s a fashion show, music video, television commercial or a live concert, Vick is up for the challenge. With his unique approach and style, it is more than safe to say that Vick is a Choreographer to be watched. 

AFRICAN WORKSHOP w/Baba Chuck Davis (12:30 to 2)

 DR. CHARLES “CHUCK” DAVIS is Founder and Artistic Director of the African American Dance Ensemble and then New York based DanceAfrica. A native of Raleigh, North Carolina, Davis attended Howard University and majored in Theater/Dance. Continuing his study in African dance under the guidance of Babatunde Olatunji, Eleo Pomare, and the Bernice Johnson Dance Company, his growing reputation was as one of the foremost teachers and accomplished choreographers in the traditional techniques of African dance. In 1982, the American Dance Festival of Durham, NC, recruited Davis as an Artist-in-Residence, to organize and manage its outreach program. From this effort sprung the African American Dance Ensemble in 1984.

Chuck Davis is a recipient of the NY Bessie Award and the very prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Music Award for distinguished service. In December of 1998, he received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Medgar Evers College of NY; and another in 2005 from Williams College, Williamstown, MA. He’s served as panelist for several programs of the National Endowment of the Arts. Appointed by the Governor to serve on the Board of the North Carolina Arts Council in 1991, Davis chairs the grant panel for Dance. He is the recipient of the AARP’s National Certificate of Excellence, the North Carolina Dance Alliance Award (2002), the North Carolina Artist Award (1990), and the North Carolina Order of the Long Leaf Pine. In 1992 Davis received the North Carolina Award in Fine Arts - the highest honor bestowed in the arts.

Dr. Davis’ numerous awards include: the Triangle Community Foundation Kathryn H. Wallace Award for Artists In Community Service (2000); the Dance Heritage Coalition recognition as one of 100 Irreplaceable Dance Treasures in the United States (2000); the Dance for the Planet award (1998 and 2001); the Durham Human Relations Commission’s Advocacy Award - especially on behalf of People with Developmental Disabilities (2002); the Artist of the Year award by Dance USA; the 2002 National Governors’ Association Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts; a citation from Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus; and many more.

The City of Durham declared August 5, 2002 as Chuck Davis Day in recognition of his accomplishments and contributions to the arts; and again on January 1, 2007 in honor of Davis’ 70 th birthday. He was honored with a prestigious Dance Magazine Award (2004); bestowed the Balasaraswati Joy Ann Dewey Endowed Chair for Distinguished Teaching by the American Dance Festival (2006); and presented the Spirit of Hayti Trail Blazer Award (2004). Dr. Davis was also honored when his biographical profile was chronicled in The North Carolina Century: “Tar Heels Who Made a Difference 1900-2000”; and again as a choreographer and consultant interviewed for “Free to Dance,” a PBS production on the history of African American Dance since the 20 th century (2004). Dr. Charles “Chuck” Davis is recognizably a national treasure and cultural icon.

Dr. Davis keeps a full schedule including appearances with the Ensemble, guest artist directorships, choreographer assignments, and research and travel excursions to Africa and international points. As founder and facilitator of the Cultural Arts Safari, Davis makes an annual pilgrimage to the continent of Africa, to which he invites uninitiated and veteran travelers alike to join his party each year.

MODERN WORKSHOP w/Obediah Wright (5:30 to 7)

OBEDIAH WRIGHT has built a career as a professional artist working with some of the best in the business such as Ray Charles, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Isao Tomita, M’bogeni Ngema (writer, choreographer and director of Broadway Musical “Sarafina”, Suzan Birkenhead (Lyrist for Broadway’s ‘Jelly’s Last Jam’, Diana Ross and a new generation of artists including Janet Jackson, Erykah Badu and Ashanti.

A native New Yorker, Obediah aka ‘Baba’ Obediah,  training began with Bernice Johnson, his teacher and mentor and a woman he credits with  giving him the strong foundation which has allowed him to travel the world in such varied roles as teacher, dancer, actor, singer, director and choreographer. From Ms. Johnson’s dance studio, ‘Baba’ Obediah continued his studies at the High School of Performing Arts, Alvin Ailey, Dance Theater of Harlem, Lee Aka Thompson, and the Julliard School, one of the most prestigious artistic schools in the world.

Obediah co-directed and choreographed a commercial in South Africa for a new cell phone company integrating South African tap dancers with African-American tap dancers along with twenty-five Zulu dancers creating a tap orchestra. Other credits include choreographing several off-Broadway productions, including “Black Broadway and the Blues”, “The Women of the Black Panthers, the long running musical ‘HAIR’,  ‘Storm Stories’, and ‘OYA’ the winner of the Audelco award for best production of the year for which ‘Baba’ Obediah was nominated for best choreographer of the year.

Obediah appeared in the Walt Disney Production of “Head of the Class/The Lion King”, a documentary in which he played the role of actor and teaching artist working with fifth graders teaching mask-making, storytelling, African songs and dance related to the Broadway musical, The Lion King. As a performer he was cast in the national tour of the Broadway production of the ‘Wiz’ and a principal dancer in the MGM production of the television series starring Debbie Allen.

He has choreographed and taught master classes throughout the country and abroad in prestigious places such as Japan, Hong Kong, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos Islands and Martinique, French West Indies.

In 2003, having choreographed thirty ballets, Obediah founded the Balance Dance Theatre as a vehicle to showcase his works. His new company received overwhelming responses from appearances  at the River2River Festival, The World Financial Center, Lincoln Center Out of Doors,  The Brooklyn Museum, Aaron Davis Hall, The Museum of Natural History, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Bendheim Performing Arts Center in Scarsdale New York, The South Orange New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Broadway Cares for AIDS, LIU Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts,  and other noteworthy stages.

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