Originally from Champaign, Illinois, Erica Johnston was always fascinated by the art of the imagination. While pursuing her studies as a young dancer, she began selling decorated pointe shoes under the business name Pointe Creations in 2004. After hitting a growth spurt in her early teens, she was unable to find leotards that fit her long torso properly, and her leotard making endeavor began. She trained in the arts of design and costume construction under Deanna Doty (director of the Champaign Urbana Ballet), Kathleen Egan (Butler University), Karl Kaufman (Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Lexington Ballet, freelance costume and set design), and Mark Eric (AAADT, the Ailey School, FIT, freelance costume design). Erica works regularly for all divisions of the Ailey School and AAADT, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, the Department of Dance at Marymount Manhattan College, Hudson Ballet Theater, and numerous other companies across the country, creating independently commissioned works for ballet, contemporary choreography, dance on film, and musical theater. She has designed for choreographers Igal Perry, Claudia Schreier, Dwight Rhoden, Adam Barruch, Jessica Chen, and Virginie Méçène, among others.
Erica works as a builder and assistant for multiple designers in the dance world, including Mark Eric (Ballet X, Ephrat Asherie Dance, AAADT, Ailey II), Bradon McDonald (Jessica Lang Dance, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater), Mondo Morales (TrustMondo; Philadanco, Jeremy McQueen for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School, Sonya Tayeh, Rioult), and Caitlin Taylor (Sidra Bell Dance, New York City Ballet, MadBoots Dance). She also works on projects outside of the dance world, including assisting designer Tilly Grimes for A$AP Rocky's "Testing the Waters" at Sotheby's NYC, stitching for the Big Apple Circus, wardrobe supervising for Art Garfunkel, and stitching for Atelier Abene for Jon Batiste and Stay Human's performance in Global Citizen 2021. Additionally, she has built costumes for television shows, including HBO's "Legendary! Season 1".
Erica's dancing life has taken her from coast to coast. She has trained with the Champaign Urbana Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Alonzo King's LINES, Paul Taylor's American Modern Dance, and Butler Ballet.She graduated from Butler University with a BFA in Dance Performance and now freelances in and around New York, NY. She is a current guest artist with the Champaign Urbana Ballet, a previous performer with the Victory Dance Project, and a collaborator with several independent choreographers, including Christopher Jackson (AAADT), Jude Evans (Ballet Arts at City Center) and Allyson Ross (Southern Belle Stories). She is also a guest instructor at the Ailey Extension and the Champaign Ballet Academy, teaching ballet, modern, and contemporary dance. During lockdown in 2020, Erica worked with composer Nevada Lozano and pianist Wesley Ducote to produce an album of original music for ballet class and an accompanying pedagogical guide for teaching introductory music theory to dancers; you can find out more about this project here. "Music for Ballet Class" is available to stream on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and YouTube. Erica is also the original pattern maker and builder for Illuminate Dancewear, a Chicago-based dance apparel brand founded by Carrie Patterson that partners with various nonprofit organizations. Check out more about Illuminate Dancewear here!