MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2017
Ryan Kenneth Johnson is a virtuosic performer, choreographer and artistic director of SOLE Defined. He is a well-known national and international performer who has been called "purely amazing" by Septime Weber, Artistic Director of The Washington Ballet, At the tender age of fourteen, Johnson started his professional joumey in the arts by performing with greats such as Gregory Hines and Marvin Hamlisch along side with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Johnson's achievements include being cited for his choreography and solo dance performances. In 2008, he was awarded a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council for his choreography. Johnson made history in 2010 by becoming the first tap dancer to win the DC Metro Dance Awards: Outstanding Solo Performance. That same year, Johnson was a finalist for the DC Metro Emergíng Artist Award. Johnson believes that he was created to perform, entertain, and use the arts to enhance the lives of people globally.
Ryan Johnson has performed in The Beatles LOVE by Cirque Du Soleil as Sugar Plum, and One Drop by Cirque Du Soleil under the direction of Mukhtar Omar Sharif Muktar. He was a part of the NYC and touring cast of the hit show STOMP where he played Particle Man and Ringo. For six years of his career, Johnson was the soloist and production manager for the world renown step dance company Step Afrika!, and the resident tap dancer for The Washington Ballet's "The Great Gatsby." He was the lead choreographer for the 2010 Season Premier of Extreme Makeover Home Edition in Baltimore, MD starring Raven-Symone. He has premiered new works at the International Body Music Festival in Brazil, New York City Tap Festival: Tap Intemational, and Cirque Du Soleil with The Nevada Ballet's "A Choreographers' Showcase" in Las Vegas. Of this performance, the Las Vegas Review Journal wrote, "Urban Jungle: The Village, by Ryan Johnson of The Beatles LOVE, is a burst of pure feeling, the most infectious entry of the program." Johnson recently performed the role of Tap Brother 1 in the Tony Award winning show After Midnight created by Jack Viertel and choreographed by Wanen Carlyle with NCL Productions.
In 2011, Johnson co-founded SOLE Defined, an award-winning dance company that takes an exciting twist on theater and percussive dance, The Washington Post has noted SOLE Defined as performing "the coolest nurnber of the night with its high-stepping and toe tapping blend of styles." Under the Artistic Direction of Johnson, SOLE Defined has performed on stages both nationally and internationally including DancEncore, Jacob's Pillow, The Kennedy Center, Artscape and The World Children's Festival in Turin,
Italy. SOLE Defined brings musical theater, stepping, singing, tap dance, sand dance, and vocal percussion to the stage for a power-packed hour and fifteen-minute performance, Over the past five years, SOLE Defined has premiered five new shows, Black Amer-I-Can (2013), The Experiment (2014), Phenix (2015), Frequency (2016) and ZAZ: The Big Easy, all written and directed by Ryan K Johnson.
Over the last decade, Johnson has taught workshops, master classes, and lecture demonstrations at universities, dance festival and conventions worldwide. He has been contracted by U.S. Embassies to participate in cultural exchange performances and workshops throughout Africa, North America, South America, and South East Asia, Johnson credits his passion for the arts to his mother, Vanessa Jackson, and tap teacher Mary Slater.