Robena Johnson has operated her performing arts studio, the Johnson School of Performing Arts, in Killeen for nearly three decades, to teach the art of dance and life lessons to area youth.
Johnson is a retired Army veteran who was brought to Central Texas by the military. “In 1985, I started with the Fancy Prancy Dancers,” she said. “I was a dancer and I just loved the art.”
She said her passion for dance started at a very young age. “When I danced, hip hop hadn’t been born,” she said. “It was just old-school dances like on “Soul Train” and “American Band Stand.”
Johnson said life was rough, as she raised her children and coped with a bad marriage. That’s when she decided to start teaching the art of dance.
“The kids didn’t have anything to do, so I took my daughter and five other little girls and we danced in the breezeway of my apartment complex, then ended up dancing on Fort Hood and all over,” Johnson said.
Johnson helped some of her students launch careers to stardom.
“(Actors) Tia and Tamara (Mowry) danced for me when they were 8 years old,” she said.
Johnson’s studio was on Eighth Street, but downtown construction forced her business to take a step back. She and her daughter, also an instructor, have gone back to holding dance classes at a variety of places throughout the community.
“People asked me, ‘Where is my studio?’ and I told them it’s in any alley or any place we can stop and put the boom box out,” she said. “In the middle of the streets ... you name it, we will be there.”
Johnson caters to boys and girls of all ages. She also preaches life skills and helps children who are less fortunate.
“No kid is left behind,” she said. “I make sure they eat before I do. A lot of times I check their clothes and end up needing to buy the whole nine yards for them.”
To find out more about Johnson’s dance classes, call 254-245-2873.