As the director of Alvin Ailey’s public dance and fitness center, Ailey Extension, Lisa Johnson-Willingham is literally on the move, constantly. On any given day she could be teaching a master class to students, taking a dance class herself, meeting with clients about potential partnerships, or all of the above. Add to that two teenage children, and Johnson- Willingham has a packed schedule that takes her from parent-teacher conferences to red-carpet appearances. To ensure she’s always appropriately dressed, her desk doesn’t just house extra shoes, but also workout clothes and the occasional camisole for after-hours events.
The Hub Today's Jacque Reid hits the dance floor at Ailey Extension Dance Studio.
A professional dancer's body is a finely tuned instrument of movement and expression. And there are no more impeccably calibrated, eloquent "instruments" than those who make up the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Opening Night Gala: December 4, 2013
All nonprofit organizations have a difficult time in these profit-ravenous times, but the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has a hidden weapon: its thriving Ailey Extension program, which offers classes in more than 30 different dance techniques to the public in about 80 classes a week.
Chicago may be called the Second City, but it was first in the hearts of dancer and Alvin Ailey Extension director Lisa Johnson-Willingham and her family.
Meet Lisa Johnson-Willingham, former Ailey dancer and current Director of the Ailey Extension at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Having been a member of the dance theater for six years, Lisa has since moved on to choreograph some of the best pieces for dance companies such as Joel Hall Dance company, Cerqua/Rivera Art Experience, One World Dance Theater and many more.