mpls st.paul magazine

By Colin Rusch

Emily Johnson is the most exciting young choreographer in the Twin Cities. Since graduating from the University of Minnesota Dance Department in the early 1990's, Johnson, a native Alaskan, has pushed her dance practice into the outer reaches of the form, while maintaining a high standard of artistry. This month she premieres Heat and Life, her newest work of movement, video, and sounds, ant No Name Exhibitions @ The Soap Factory. It will challenge, if not completely transform, your understanding of dance as an art form.

Heat and Life, which is part dance concert, part installation, is set to take place in a big warehouse space - sans seating - and filled with a case of powerful women, portable heaters, walkie-talkies, tape recorders, and the sublime electronic sounds of musician James Everest. The show addresses global warming and how we feed and respond to the problem. Rather than belaboring the issue's politics or science, the performance points to our interconnectedness as people inhabiting the same place.

The power of Johnson's work isn't just the precision of the movement, the obvious talent of her dancers, or her clever sense of fashion. It's also her innate, genuine curiosity. She's hungry to understand the world she lives in and share her knowledge in the most appropriate form. The result is thoroughly researched movement-based art that exudes a completeness rare in most dance work. She asks, "Why is dance a relevant art form in today's world?" and consistently presents audiences with compelling answers. Make time for Heat and Life.