Still image from dance & fashion film: "The Thought of You", NYU Student Film 2017, Co-Director, Choreographer, Costume designer: djassi daCosta johnson, Director, Sarra A. Alshehhi, Cinematographer: Kristen Kouke, Dancers: Matteo Manoel Vergara, Jaqueline Calle Hernandez,
Djassi DaCosta Johnson is a native New Yorker, dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, photographer, writer, designer and anthropologist. Djassi's background as a dancer, physically and “ethnographically” is what forms her choreographic vocabulary... from breakdancing and house dancing, to Capoeira, African, tap, jazz, and, eventually Ballet, and modern dance training in Graham, Horton, Simonson and Taylor. The pedestrian and human qualities that social and street dance elicit when fused with theatrical dance is apparent in her storytelling whether on stage or screen. Her philosophy that all movement is performative is rooted in the improvisational skills acquired through the social culture as a black woman growing up in New York -- having to switch physical and verbal “code” from one neighborhood to the next. A product of dance scholarship programs across the city; (Ballet, Hispanico, Harlem School of The Arts & Clark Center), Djassi received her BA in Anthropology and English from Barnard College, Columbia University, while on scholarship at Alvin Ailey. Djassi has performed and toured with, Dance Brazil, Earl Mosley, Hernando Cortez, Urban Bush Women, and was a featured soloist with MOMIX for 8 years, among others. After touring for 12 years, working independently and living abroad in Brazil and then Italy (on film and television, AMICI, FIORELLO, I RACOMANDATTI) for 7 years, Djassi returned to NYC to work in front of the lens as an actor and dancer (The Get Down, The Knick, “THE INTERN” and “BOLDEN!” (2018), while independently experimenting with her choreography from behind the lens. Her choreography has been showcased in several Essence Fashion shows, for Nike fashion and trade shows, in fashion films and in her own film work. She has choreographed for film and and television in Italy (I Racomandatti, “CREW 2 CREW”, Lionsgate) and began developing a series of solos which she performed throughout Italy. As a dancer and performance artist, Djassi continues to expand the reach and perception of dance as a creative tool that extends beyond the confines of the stage or the theater whether in collaborations with artists, musicians and in her own solo performance pieces. She collaborates internationally visual artists, including Eddie Peak’s PERFORMA 13, Brendan Fernandes’ DISGUISE for the Brooklyn Museum, and Lia Chavez's LIGHT BODY at Isabella Rossellini’s farm, as well as jazz musicians (Vision Fest, Arts for Art, Shapeshifter Lounge), and in 2017 was the Creative Director/ Choreographer for Museum of Sex’s VR exhibit featuring DIPLO. Djassi has designed costumes since her first days touring and founded her line, dja. in 2002 and continues to incorporate fashion into her performances and films. She has collaborated on several fashion dance films including “Revelation” by director Kaliyahh Warren withdesignerr Anna Kathleen, and her own film, “The Thought of You”, co-directed by Sarra Alshehhi, with dja. costume design. Djassi is part-owner of the boutique Radical Women based in Brooklyn where she currently sells Canvas and leather bags, earrings and accessories from her Zen Elegance line, dja.1974. Djassi is a published writer, and, currently the dance writer for Copenhagen based lifestyle & fashion magazine, KINFOLK for which she has written a historical profile on Dance Theater of Harlem, and published pieces on ballerina Michaela dePrince, and visual/ performance artist Brendan Fernandes. Djassi will complete her MFA in Dance & New Media/ Technology from NYU Tisch in 2018 as a Dean’s Fellow. For her graduate thesis work, Djassi is the first graduate in her department to travel abroad for thesis research work. In January, 2018 Djassi traveled to Cuba to profile several dancers from the company and will present a photo exhibit, a mini-documentary and a dance film in conjunction with her thesis. She is currently working on several dance films and mini-documentaries in order to extend the reach of dance as transformative social art and a cultural agent for change.