Emily Johnson

Photo by Adam Sings
Photo by Adam Sings

Emily Johnson

 

Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an organizer for justice, sovereignty and well-being. Emily is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim and United States Artists Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, based in Lenapehoking / New York City. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment — interacting with a place’s architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral part of our connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future.

Her choreography and gatherings have been presented across what is currently called the United States and Australia. Her large-scale project, Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all-night outdoor performance gathering taking place amongst 84 community-hand-made quilts. It premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC) in 2017, and was presented in Zhigaagoong (Chicago) in 2019. She choreographed the Santa Fe Opera production of Doctor Atomic, directed by Peter Sellars in 2018. Her new work in development, Being Future Being, considers future creation stories and present joy.

Emily’s writing has been published and commissioned by The Open Society University Network’s Center for Human Rights and the Arts at Bard College, ArtsLink Australia, unMagazine, Dance Research Journal (University of Cambridge Press); SFMOMA; Transmotion Journal, University of Kent; Movement Research Journal; Pew Center for Arts and Heritage; and the compilation Imagined Theaters (Routledge), edited by Daniel Sack.

Emily hosts monthly ceremonial fires on Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center and Karyn Recollet. She was the Pueblo Opera Cultural Council Diplomat at Santa Fe Opera 2018-2020, and a lead organizer of First Nations Dialogues. She was a co-compiler of the documents, Creating New Futures: Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts and Notes for Equitable Funding, was a member of Creative Time’s inaugural Think Tank, and serves as a working consortium member for First Nations Performing Arts.