"Johnson’s works dwell in the liminal space between memoir and dream, intimate and mythical, dance and installation, continually working away at the boundaries between performers and audience."
- Eleanor Savage, SHORE Essay
"Before the lanterned darkness empties us back out, let’s take more time to listen to these ingenious muscles, nerves, and bones that channel the migrating fish, the statuesque fox, the eternal swaggering bear."
- Siobhan Burke, Performance Club
THE THANK-YOU BAR
"a stunning example of an emerging contemporary American aesthetic"
- Houston Chronicle
Emily Johnson doesn’t consider her work “activist art.” Though the endangered natural environment has been her theme in several works, the soft-spoken, slender choreographer and dancer says she owes her vision as much to the exploratory vocabulary of contact improvisation as the natural world of her Alaskan childhood.
As a child growing up in Alaska, choreographer Emily Johnson lived close to nature. She was surrounded by spruce trees and streams, and she became acquainted with Alaska's massive Ice Age glaciers. That experience informs "Heat and Life," a dance about the threat of global warming that Johnson's Catalyst Dance company brings to Dance Theater Workshop next week.
Emily Johnson, a native Alaskan now resident of Minneapolis, brings her all-woman contemporary troupe to New York in Heat and Life, which explores issues surrounding global warming. Multi-instrumentalist JG Everest performs his original score. Johnson and her collaborators have worked all over the west and north, as far as St. Petersburg, Russia; here they make their New York debut. A discussion will follow each performance. Through Sat at 7:30, Dance Theater Workshop, 219 W. 19th
Emily Johnson grew up in the wild open spaces of Alaska. While her U.S. contemporarieswere hanging out at the mall, Johnson was hiking and mountain biking on the KenaiPeninsula. Part Yup’ic Eskimo, she and her family fished from remote beaches,picked cranberries from the local bogs, even hunted moose.
Given the clear skies and balmy breezes last August 27, the Stone Arch Bridge would’ve been packed to the viewfinders even without Landmark - exactly as Local Strategy intended. The interdisciplinary art ensemble’s six members designed their 24-hour celebration of our loveliest pedestrian thoroughfare to enhance its setting, rather than to overwhelm it. They succeeded in every respect, including audience composition. Sure, lots of people turned out specifically for the event’s music, dance, performance art, props, installations, and sundry other free attractions.
This may be the first time wind farms and post-modern dance have appeared in he same story. But choreographer Emily Johnson, 29, finds her inspiration in places where humans, machines and nature intersect. Johnson also likes to self-produce her dance pieces on street corners, in sculpture parks, and in art galleries. So it’s no surprise the “Windfarm” addresses her concerns about environmental degradation.
HEAT AND LIFE (2004)
When modern dance wed rock band, nobody expected it to last. But the fine romance between Catalyst and Lateduster proves opposites do, indeed, attract.Couples often form through common friends. Catalyst and Lateduster - a modern dance troupe and ethereal rock band - met through a common fan.
Catalyst Dances by Emily Johnson There's something to be said for a performerwho can put on a pair of pants five sizes too big and dance around to Dolly Partonwith a serious look on her face - and, in the the process, thoroughly convinceus that she has a very bright future. Emily Johnson, of course, doesn't haveto explain what she does. She does most everything with such clear intentionthat we believe - even during the more absurd moments - that she's making perfectsense.
PRAISE FOR Niicugni
"...a fusion of gorgeous dancing, costumes and live music with the spirit, and visual manifestation of the King Salmon. It glitters like the scales of a living fish." - Metro New York
"If you manage to un-guard your heart and pay attention to subtle things--which is what the title, Niicugni, explicitly invites--you will perceive a gracefully-integrated, seductive work of art at the core of which is one rare, exquisite and charming performer, Emily Johnson." - Eva Yaa Asantewaa, Infinite Body
"Before the lanterned darkness empties us back out, let’s take more time to listen to these ingenious muscles, nerves, and bones that channel the migrating fish, the statuesque fox, the eternal swaggering bear." - Siobhan Burke, Performance Club
"Images emerge with the intricacy of dreams. The women hopping and stamping as if the peaty ground has the springiness of a trampoline and vibrating with the thumping, breath-eating joy of their exertions." Debra Cash, The Arts Fuse
"...another of Johnson’s engaging and involving examinations of personal and collective identity and humanity’s responsibility to the planet." - This Week in New York
"[Niicugni] summoned the senses...And Johnson drew upon her deep-felt connections to the natural world to interweave poignant fables, the kind whispered in the middle of the night." - Caroline Palmer, Mpls StarTribune
"Dreamtime is what came to mind. And never left." - Camille LeFebre, MN Artists
PRAISE FOR The Thank-you Bar
"..Emily Johnson's "(The) Thank-you Bar" is as disarming as they come." -Gia Kourlas, New York Times
"...a powerful performance that allows you to see the boundaries of your own aesthetic territory." -Culturebot
"...so delightfully fresh and invigorating, so new, that you want to shout about it from the rooftop and out windows so everyone can know about it...dazzlingly original..." -This Week in New York (twi-ny.com)
"a stunning example of an emerging contemporary American aesthetic" - Houston Chronicle
"She becomes each of us for a moment, as we become her. We lose ourselves for a moment. We discover new selves." - Culture Rover
"Emily Johnson scoops you up and plunks you down in the living, breathing lap of displacement..." - Time Out Chicago
"The beauty and simplicity of the song and story together are transportive. We listeners are alternately cast inside a memory of unbearable heartbreak and the sublime." – mnartists.org
"simultaneously vulnerable and commanding, mythical and wry." - Dance Magazine
"the complex wail of our collective past screamed in a back room somewhere" – Daily News
"I feel disconnected from my culture. This brings me back."
"By the end of the event, you arrive home, and in arriving home, you also learn about what home is: it’s a familiar place rendered strange, a strange place made familiar; it’s a persistent reminder of something you have forgotten but whose impossible recovery is itself inscrutably comforting. It’s a rustle of leaves."
"Stellar production and performance. The synergy of the music, dance, text, lighting, and staging made for a transformative experience. The use of the theater was brilliant, giving a visual dimension that hauntingly underscored the themes of the work. There were many moments when I felt I was inside a dreamscape, such as Emily's entrance on stilts and all three performers sing Patsy Cline's I Fall To Pieces. I loved the questions/struggles around identity and fear and the silencing effect of racism, which felt authentic not didactic or surface. I loved the stories and use of story and will forever have the image of the melting blackfish in my mind. The dance solo by Emily that happened after the audience turned our seats to face the other way, before Sally joined in, was deeply moving. The gesture of hand to heart and then out, repeated with such intensity, did reach my heart. This work reminds me why I love art." -Eleanor Savage
ABOUT EMILY JOHNSON/CATALYST
"Emily Johnson, of course, doesn't have to explain what she does. She does most everything with such clear intention that we believe - even during the more absurd moments - that she's making perfect sense."
– City Pages
– The Gothamist
– Gay City News
"Fresh and fierce, evocative and disciplined."
– Dance Magazine
"...a sensibility with remarkable depth and clarity."
– Star Tribune