residency activities | catalyst, dances by emily johnson
Through an approach of perception, movement, improvisation and storytelling, Emily Johnson conducts workshops and classes that bring a heightened awareness of bodily practice and commitment to performance. Geared toward dancers (and non-dancers) interested in transformation and investigating their own motivations for dancing, she trains participants to engage the intelligence of the body and move purposefully in space. Participants will work a new consciousness, and will refine individual technique with poetic, actual, and imagined tools, honing improvisations and leading to powerful, clear dancing.
Emily Johnson is interested in intentional movement and she is interested in the specificity of choice. Emily does not teach a named technique, rather, she works with students on generating awareness and states of readiness. We will work with improvisation, set choreography and the intelligence of the body to purposefully move in space. Dancers will work to refine individual technique with poetic, actual, and imagined tools, honing improvisations and leading to powerful, clear dancing. Dancers must be interested in investigating their own motivations for dancing.
Dance & Culture presentations & lectures
Emily Johnson has given a wide variety of presentations and lectures on topics relating to place, identity, performance, dance, and culture.
Awareness, Environment and Impulse
This workshop centers around the development of conscious states of readiness. With heightened senses of awareness we will generate movement through listening, sensing and shifting focus. In stillness we will develop an awareness of our relationship to space, and with that relationship in mind we find impulse and movement. Cultivating a sense of awareness and readiness allows our environment to influence our movement, breaking down preexisting habits and creating fresh impulses with a greater sense of meaning. We will embody these unadulterated impulses—sometimes acting on our first instincts, and at other times using our judgment to wait for the third or fourth impulse. Using skills of composition, we will craft short performances that stem from these impulses of environmental specificity, investigating our relationship to space, and how shifts of vision and focus can alter our environmental awareness.
"The most powerful message was not a verbal one. It was experiencing her creativity as she took us through the last exercise of doing our short pieces. Her work was done through the reflection of her image on the window, but her words caused many layers of reality to take place in our heads: the outside wall across the street, the reflections of her moving slowing behind us and the story she told of the mouse in the hole and the hanging electrical line that somehow became the mouse's tail."
Story, Focus and Performativity
As performers, what is the connection we maintain with our witnesses? How do we relate to our audience? This workshop emphasizes the role of focus in performativity. We will explore how a performer’s focus alters his or her relationship to both environment and audience. Through exercises of shifting focus, we will investigate how our eyes connect us to space and to others. We will use elements of personal storytelling, fictional narrative and environmental description to create movement impulses; and then craft that impulse with explorations of focus. We will also use both passive witness and critical observation as a means of understanding performativity.
Space, Land, and Identity
Emily Johnson often works in “non-traditional” settings. Her interests in the relationship between public and private space are in direct relation to the level of attention and focus it takes to perform and witness dance outside of the theater or studio setting. Emily questions who is included in the dance-making process, what dance can mean, how it can connect with our contemporary consciousness, and how view and talk about dance. Practicing being present and respectful of land and environs, participants are encouraged to find new ways of moving into and out of public realms. Space, Land and Identity can be folded into other workshops, or taught on its own.
I thought this was a very unique and interesting experience. It is not everyday that you get to observe a very common and popular pathway from a new perspective. I have never looked at this walkway quite the same, and I can remember feeling this need to tell everyone and anyone who would listen about what I did in my dance class that day.
Memory and Critique
Emily runs the post performance project, Post-re-view. Post-re-view is a practice dedicated to the experience of witnessing performance. It relies upon memory, rather than initial impression. It respects critique, but abhors judgment. It is a practice whereby the act of performing is given the utmost respect and the act of witnessing is called upon to be a participatory, rather than sedentary. Post-re-view often involves writing, but is not limited to this form of response. In this workshop, participants work to make and witness short performances, using memory as a tool for feedback and deepening critical response. Memory and Critique can be folded into other workshops, or taught on its own.
Fish Skin Sewing Workshops
As part of the long process of creating Niicugni, Emily studied the traditional craft of fish skin sewing and developed her design for Alaskan salmon fish skin lanterns used in the piece, and then led a series of workshops in Vermont, Minneapolis, and Arizona, teaching the technique and process to large groups of participants ranging in ages from 7 to 70+. Workshops include a salmon feast and hours of great conversation!
Keene State University. Guest artist presentation. Fall 2012
Herberger Institute at Arizona State University, lecture for Contemporary Native Arts Course.
Wesleyan University, Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance.
Lecture: The Politics of Place . Summer 2012
Arizona State University. Lecture: Dance Matters. Winter 2011
University of San Francisco, movement class. Spring 2011
Northwestern, guest artist teaching residency. Fall 2010
The Dance Center at Columbia College, movement classes. Fall 2010.
Arts & Culture Day for Leadership Twin Cities,
Regional Chamber of Commerce, lecture/performance, Minneapolis, MN. Spring 2010
Living Arts of Tulsa, Our Bodies in Performance, 3 day residency, Tulsa, OK. Spring 2010
OutNorth, Under-30 performance workshop, Anchorage, AK. Fall 2009
Florida State University, roving experiments, Tallahassee, Florida. Winter 2009
Austin University, lecture to dance history students, Austin, TX. Winter 2007
Links Hall, technique class, Chicago, IL. Winter 2007
Chicago Cultural Center, Public Symposium: Through Different Lenses; Community Analysis, Interpretation, and Action Towards Environmental Policy, Chicago, IL. Winter 2007
Studio 303, dance and music workshop, Montreal, Canada. Spring 2005
Macalester College, commissioned work on dance students, St. Paul, MN. Spring 2005
VIZIT Agency, week residency, St. Petersburg, Russia. Winter 2003
St. Olaf College, commissioned work on dance student, Northfield, MN. Fall 2003
Carleton College, repertory work set on dance program students, Northfield, MN. Fall 2002
University of Minnesota, repertory work on tour, Minneapolis, MN. Fall 1999
Zenon Scholarship Program, new work created on scholarship students, Minneapolis, MN. 1998