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2012, coming and going

2012 is nearly half done, can you believe it? And I have been meaning to write to you since it began. Woe! My steady friends who purposefully or inadvertently signed up on my mailing list - either way - oh, my friends I meant to write to you in January, then February, March....and maybe it was a good thing you didn't have another email or two in your inbox - I understand how that is - but I have missed you. I make these dances for you and I think of you all the time! Last week someone told me that it'd been two lifetimes since we'd seen one another. Lives within lives. That's how it goes sometimes.

Here's what's been happening...(besides entering my LATE thirties - yes it does feel different, very different -  swimming in the Pacific, planting Morning Glories, and stopping traffic to save a turtle who when I picked it up, peed on my leg)...

Our Actions
I make dances for you, yes. I also live in this tired world. Let's make it less tired!

Emily Johnson/Catalyst supports and joins Minnesotans United for All Families and joins TONS OF MINNESOTANS who are against the constitutional amendment to ban marriage for same-sex couples. We will love love and rights in November.

Emily Johnson/Catalyst tours the country via cars and airplanes. While offsetting carbon isn't a cure, it helps. I calculate our carbon and purchase offsets to reduce Catalyst's greenhouse pollution and meet our sustainability goals. Native Energy is the place. They're great and they build projects that create sustainable economic benefits for Native Americans, Alaska Native Villages, family farmers, and rural communities. Last year we were able to offset ALL of our tour initiated carbon which supported the Iowa Farms Wind Project and the Wewoka Biogas Project.

Body and SHORE
In April I was an artist in residence at the Headlands Center for the Arts - a place made holy and good-crazy by the practices of so many good-crazy artists:  my new friends and colleagues.  I made Body, an installation for the land under the one-hundred-year-old-gymnasium-that-was-my-studio. I was trying to lift the ground up through the floor and move through the walls, out to the hills and I needed to undo a little bit of the.....well, we were in an old fort and I was unnerved. Here is what I think: That dancing in/of past, present, and future is a shaking - is a way of transforming this place we are caught up in, this place of concrete knowing (only), of forced worldview, of bunkers on mountains. Are you with me? I also combed throughNiicugni and wrote as many monster stories as I could muster and did research for SHORE by volunteering at the Marin Native Plant Nursery -- now one of my favorite places. LOVE to all the Sticky Monkey Flowers of Marin County (and to Alisa, Annette, and Daisy). There was an open house one day -  800 people CAME THROUGH Body and helped wash seedling pots for the nursery, too -- volunteerism as part of performance as part of research for SHORE. Oh, and I made a massive halibut-skin lantern from one of our delicious dinners - thank you to Damon, Brydee, and Harold for help. 26 lanterns done. 24 to go.

     Body, with sound design by James Everest


Body, with sound design by James Everest

Niicugni (Listen)
Niicugni premieres in September! Do you think I can finish it in time? Can we all close our eyes right now and say......"yes...."..."yes...."yes..."... (quyana, thank you if you did that). 
Niicugni is housed within a light/sound installation of hand-made, functional fish lanterns. It equates land with cells that comprise our bodies and calls upon US to remember that land is alive with ancestry, memory, and possibility, and that our bodies also hold these things. Present, Past, and Future together. (Yesterday someone told me that there is no past. I heartily disagree). This is also the work that brought monsters into my life. So many of you have offered your stories and ideas of and about these crazy-bad monsters. Some ideas from you: we should tell them stories, they will take care of themselves, we must acknowledge them, we must make fun of them, we must call them out, we cannot ever call them out, we should ignore them, they are in us, they are outside of us, they spark the fire of protest, they are ever-present, they need to die, they will never die.....I don't know what the answer is. It's been a fascinating conversation.

Upcoming research: visiting the quietest room ON EARTH. My goal is one hour inside utter silence. I will tell you about it if I don't go mad.

Niicugni   rehearsals. Emily and Aretha. Photos by Al Hall and Chris Cameron.

Niicugni rehearsals. Emily and Aretha. Photos by Al Hall and Chris Cameron.

Here's where Niicugni will tour to - come see:
September 21, 2012: Co-Presentation of the Seven Days of Opening Nights Festival and the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography at Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida

November 17, 2012: MassMoca (informal showing)
January, 2013: Performance Space 122 as part of the 8th Annual COIL Festival, NYC
February 13, 2013: Co-presented by the Redfern Arts Center at Keene State College and Vermont Performance Lab at Redfern Arts Center
March 2, 2013: ASU Gammage, Phoenix, Arizona
March 22 - 23, 2013: Tigertail, Miami Florida
April 11- 13, 2013: Bunnell St. Gallery, Homer, Alaska
April 21, 2013: Northrop Dance and The O’Shaughnessy Present Women of Substance at St. Catherine University, St. Paul/Minneapolis
June 2013: Portland Institute for Contemporary Art

Fish-skin Lantern Making Workshop
We're doing another one in Minneapolis. This week. It's really fun. A little messy at first. You learn the whole process, from filleting the fish, to skinning and sewing. We use wild-caught salmon and halibut, have a feast, and your lantern becomes part of the hanging installation for Niicugni. It's free. If you are in Minneapolis and want to come join us, email Max at He'll send you the details. Registration is necessary.

Fireclif 3
On May 31st at 7pm I was on top of an 8 foot aluminum clad room/box with Minouk Lim inside a dark gallery full of people at the Walker Art Center performing Fireclif 3, a commission from the visual art department at the Walker and a collaboration with Minouk, incorporating her wearable sculptures that make me think of nature and industry and things that have washed up on the beach. A pedestrian styled, highly danced, never ending, never beginning performance with humming, singing, drooling mouths, and stories of whales-John Cage-trees-bones-silence-etching sound-space between-ash-vampires, which at one point bounced to the music and at another moved time backwards. There was also stunning, live infrared video. Thank you to the Walker, to Clara Kim, to Minouk and her team, and to performers Arwen Wilder, Max Wirsing, Ashley Akpaka, Katie Vang, and Paige Collette. NYTArtForum.

photo by Cameron Wittig

photo by Cameron Wittig


2012 brings these things, too:
June: A Super Fun, Large Cast, Celebratory Endurance Dance Based on Walking, Some Running, A Large Spiral, and Singing Names commissioned by the McKnight Foundation in honor of 30 years of artist fellowships. 

July:  Speaking about The Politics of Place for the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan and painting a wall at Madame for the Arts in Minneapolis as research for SHORE.

Where (we) Live with  So Percussion, Ain Gordon, Grey McMurray, and Martin Schmidt. I love this project so much I can barely tell you about it.  A few words from rehearsal yesterday: descend, open everything, exaggerate until everything makes sense. We'll be at the Walker Art Center inSeptember, at the Myrna Loy Center in Helena, Montana in October, and at BAM in December.

I'm dancing with Body Cartography Project in Super Nature. A super awesome, weird, lovely, amazing dance you should come see at the Walker Art Center in October, at COIL Festival in January, and in San Diego in February. It's also a really hard dance -- LATE thirties and all...can I do it?  We recently bodied an installation at the Walker, dancing one at a time in front of one person at a time. I learned that you cannot fake empathy (did I think you could do that before?). Lightsey Darst wrote about it: empathy

Oh and next time I write to you I'll be able to share a music video. What? Yes. A music video I'm making with one of my favorite bands, Alpha Consumer. Hello friends, we'll be in there, dancing, or something similar.

San Francisco, Vermont, New York, and Now    

San Francisco, Vermont, New York, and Now


   I know that was a long one.

Much love,

Earlier Event: November 4
The Thank-you Bar in New York