"I want to bridge the gap between first companies, second companies and dancers in training. Young dancers and their parents often spend a great deal of money for performance opportunities. I know because I was one of them. My goal is to provide the student the opportunity to perform and gain monetary value to continue their training and education. The twist is that they are performing alongside professional dancers. The wealth of knowledge the professionals have is something money can't buy. But for the professional dancer this is a great way to continue in their art while in between gigs or contracts." Thea Aj Harper Dance Project aims to not only entertain but to create thought provoking dialogue between the mind and spirit.
Atlanta native, Ashley Nichole Johnson began her formal dance training at the age of two. Her training and company experience comes from Norma’s Academy of Dance, Ballethnic Academy of Dance, Total Dance, North Carolina School of the Arts, The University of the Arts, and Philadanco. While attending Tri-Cities High School, Ms. Johnson was a dance major, but was also seen in several musical theater performances. She was accepted into the Governor’s Honors Program during the summer of her junior year. Shortly after graduating high school with honors Ms. Johnson performed in a summer workshop series for Disney, where she worked exclusively with Eartha Kitt. Ashley continued her education at The University of the Arts. During her college career, she had the pleasure of becoming a member of Philadanco’s Second Company D-2. Ms. Johnson had the privilege of training and working with dance masters Roni Koresh, Milton Myers, Ron K. Brown, Christopher Huggins, Wayne St. David, Faye Snow, Kim Bears-Bailey, Pat Thomas and many more. In 2007, Ms. Johnson returned to Atlanta and while there she became a member of The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks A-Town Dancers for one season. In 2008-09 Ms. Johnson was a member of the up and coming Dance Theater X. During that time Ms. Johnson also auditioned for the 76ers NBA Dance Team and became a member. During her time on the team Ms. Johnson taught and facilitated several dance camps in Pennsylvania, and was given the opportunity to choreograph for the Junior Dancers and her teammates. While on the team Ms. Johnson was one of six dancers selected to perform in China during the summer of 2011. After four years as a member of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers Dream Team, Ms. Johnson decided to fully commit herself to the development of youth through the art of dance. Since that time, Ms. Johnson has received numerous choreography and costuming awards for her work. She has had the privilege of being on staff at Millennium Dance Complex (Philadelphia). During the summer of 2017 Ms. Johnson launched her own contemporary jazz company The AJ Harper Dance Project, catering to both professional and pre professional dancers. Ms. Johnson is currently a resident choreographer for Grace Dance Theater’s training company but, continues to teach workshops and weekly classes for several studios throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Her former students have gone on to major in dance at world renowned institutions, many of whom are now dancing professionally all over the world.