Contact Atlanta Interviews Choreographer Ursula Kendall-Johnson
Contact Atlanta recently had the opportunity to interview choreographer, Ursula Kendall-Johnson. A native of Atlanta, Ursula graduated from Tri Cities Performing Arts High School as a dance major. She went on to attend Dillard University in New Orleans where she worked as a dancer and choreographer. Ursula is the owner of Ursula Inc. and is the producer choreographer of “SHE Created It.” She is involved with the Ailey Camp Atlanta which is sponsored by the Fox Theatre. She provided insight on how her experience with Ailey Camp Atlanta has been thus far.
“Ailey Camp Atlanta is very unique. It’s a part of Ailey so therefore it has standards, a high level of standards and it’s a part of outreach and community,” said Johnson. She began as a group leader for two years at the camp then later was given the opportunity to teach. Ursula has been with Ailey Camp Atlanta for six years and four of those years were as a teacher. She teaches Jazz dance classes to 100 children each summer.
Throughout her childhood and career, Ursula has to deal with the fact that her skin is of a darker complexion than her counterparts. At times, this became a deciding factor of whether or not she received work. “I’ve dealt with being dark skinned. I’ve dealt with my inner beauty,” said Johnson. “I got the talent but sometimes they were looking for a look and sometimes this look, I was just a shade too dark. I had to deal with not getting picked up because I was dark skinned.” After getting turned away numerous of times, Ursula continued to go after her dreams. “At the end of the day, I realized I know what I am worth and it’s your loss if you don’t want to incorporate me in your world but I appreciate you giving me the opportunity,” said Ursula Kendall-Johnson.
When asked about previous projects, Ursula has worked in six movies spanning from Tyler Perry films to Disney’s Stuck in the Suburbs. Also, she was given the opportunity to work on Fantasia Barrino’s Back to Me tour. Ursula choreographed the filmed introduction of the tour which displayed swing dance, in particular the Lindy Hop and the Charleston. She is currently working with the Nichole “Nicci” Gilbert, former member of the group Brownstone.
Johnson said, “I try to set myself up in all types of arts. I like art period, even though my specialty and aesthetic is dance. I love seeing work. I love to model. I love to act. I love to dance. I love to teach. I love to choreograph.” Ursula described herself as a connoisseur of learning.
Chauntel Toomer, Contributing Author