Virginia Johnson: Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem

Virginia Johnson returns to Dance Theatre of Harlem as artistic director having been a founding member and principal dancer. Born in Washington, DC, Johnson graduated from the Academy of the Washington School of Ballet. She briefly attended the School of the Arts at New York University as a University Scholar before joining DTH in 1969.

During her 28 years with the company she performed most of the repertoire, with principal roles in Concerto Barocco, Allegro Brillante, Agon, A Streetcar Named Desire, Fall River Legend, Swan Lake, Giselle, Voluntaries, Les Biches among others.

Three DTH productions in which she danced leading roles were recorded for broadcast: A Streetcar Named Desire for Dance in America on PBS, Creole Giselle, which was the first full-length ballet broadcast on NBC, and Fall River Legend, which won a cable ACE award from the Bravo Network. In addition, she was included in two acclaimed television dance series, Margot Fonteyn’s “The Magic of Dance” and Natalia Makarova’s “Ballerina.”

Her choreographic credits include the television film, Ancient Voices of Children in which she danced and an early, self-produced solo concert for Rae Metzger’s Concert Socials. Later choreographic works include ballets created for Goucher College, Dancers Respond to AIDS, the Second Annual Harlem Festival of the Arts, Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center and Marymount Manhattan College, where she was also an adjunct professor. The latter two projects were an outgrowth of Dancers Making Dances, a collaborative choreographic project with former DTH colleagues, Judy Tyrus and Melanie Person.

While still performing, her interest in journalism led her to Fordham University where she continues to pursue a degree in communications. After retiring from performing, she founded POINTE magazine and was editor-in-chief from 2000-2009. The popular publication helps dancers prepare for the professional ballet world developing educational seminars and lectures on health and wellness for dancers, auditions and professional preparation.

Her honors include a Young Achiever Award from the National Council of Women, Outstanding Young Woman of America and the Dance Magazine Award, a Pen and Brush Achievement Award and the Washington Performing Arts Society’s 2008-2009 Pola Nirenska Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2009 Martha Hill Fund Mid-Career Award. Highlights of her guest appearances include a tour of Australia with Stars of World Ballet, several appearances at various International Festivals of Dance in Havana Cuba, and with the Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House in London. Her commitment to community service is maintained through volunteer assignments with New York Cares.

Dance Theatre of Harlem

David C. Driskell

David C. Driskell: Artist and Scholar

One of the world’s leading authorities on the subject of African American Art, Prof. David C. Driskell is highly regarded as both an artist and a scholar. Born in 1931 in Eatonton, Georgia, he grew up in North Carolina and completed the art program at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine, in 1953.

He received an undergraduate degree in art from Howard University in 1955 and an M.F.A. from Catholic University of America in 1962. He then explored post-graduate study in art history at The Netherlands Institute for the History of Art in The Hague. Trained as a painter and art historian, Mr. Driskell works primarily in collage and mixed media, and printmaking.

Prof. Driskell began his teaching career at Talladega College in 1955. He taught at Howard and Fisk Universities and served as Visiting Professor of Art at several universities, including Bowdoin College, The University of Michigan, Queens College, and Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

He joined the faculty of the Department of Art at the University of Maryland, College Park in 1977 and served as its Chairperson from 1978-1983. In 1995, he was named Distinguished University Professor of Art and taught until his retirement in 1998.

The recipient of numerous fellowships, awards, and prizes including three Rockefeller Foundation Fellowships and a Harmon Foundation Fellowship, Prof. Driskell has also received thirteen honorary doctoral degrees in art. While teaching at the University of Maryland, Prof. Driskell maintained an active career as a practicing artist, teacher, curator, collector, art administrator, and art consultant.

He has lectured across the globe and his works are included in major collections of art museums throughout the world. Prof. Driskell has authored five exhibition books on the subject of African American art, co-authored four others, and published more than 40 catalogues from exhibitions he has curated.

In 1976, Driskell curated the groundbreaking exhibition “Two Centuries of Black American Art: 1750-1950” which has been a foundation for the field of African American Art History. In 2000, Prof. Driskell was honored by President Bill Clinton as one of 12 recipients of the National Humanities Medal.

In 2001, the University of Maryland established the David C. Driskell Center to honor Prof. Driskell as an Artist, Art Historian, Collector, Curator, and Scholar. The Center honors Prof. Driskell by preserving the rich heritage of African American visual art and culture.

In 2005, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, established the David C. Driskell Prize, the first national award to honor and celebrate contributions to the field of African American art and art history. In 2007, Prof. Driskell was elected as a National Academician by the National Academy.

daphne maxwell-reid

Daphne Reid: Actress, Producer, Designer

Daphne Reid was born in New York City, New York, USA as Daphne Maxwell. She is an actress and producer, known for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), Frank’s Place (1987) and Coach of the Year (1980).

Ms. Reid is a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. She attended Northwestern University, where she attended on a scholarship. While at Northwestern she began a modeling career, and eventually signed with the Eileen Ford modeling agency. She was the first black woman to be on the cover of Glamour magazine.

Also, a costume designer Daphne Maxwell Reid frequently created her own TV wardrobe. Moreover, she once guest-hosted ABC’s The Home Show (1988) where she showed off many of her designs, and subsequently put together a four video and pattern kit entitled “Suddenly You’re Sewing”.

She and her husband, actor Tim Reid, once had a syndicated talk show called The Tim and Daphne Show for King World in 1990-1991. She has appeared in numerous television programs. Her best-known role was as Vivian Banks on the NBC sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air from 1993 to 1996.

Ms. Reid is also an accomplished photographer. With her husband, Tim Reid, she owns and operates New Millennium Studios in Petersburg, Virginia.

On July 31, 2010, she became an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, during their 50th National Convention (Transforming Lives, Impacting Communities) in New Orleans.

In 2007 Ms. Reid became the first Honorary member of the Society, Incorporated. She was inducted at our 11th National Conference in Memphis, Tennessee. The Society Incorporated has been proud to have her as our first Honorary Member.