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Choreographer Emily Johnson brings show to ASU Gammage's Beyond Series


February 11, 2013

Celebrated director, choreographer, curator Emily Johnson (Native Alaskan Yup'ik) presents "Niicugni" (Listen), a new dance performance housed within a light and sound installation made of hanging fish-skin sculptures. The performance is set for 7 p.m., March 2 at 7 p.m. at ASU Galvin Playhouse. Tickets are $25 and are on sale now.

Niicugni – the word – is a directive to pay attention, to listen. "Niicugni" the dance quietly compels such attentiveness through its layering of multiple dances, live music, stories, and histories. Niicugni asks, can we pay attention to the ways we do and do not listen to our bodies, histories, impulses and environments? Equating the molecules of land with the cells that comprise our bodies, "Niicugni" is also about how land, or place, like our bodies, is a repository of past, present, and future. It holds, at once, myth and truth, magic and evil, hope and death, laughter and monsters, as well as ancestral histories and cultural identities. In the moment of each performance, "Niicugni" wonders if we can recognize the importance of everyone in the room? Can we see ourselves as part of the whole? Can we absorb that everyone we see is here now and will be gone?

Johnson is an artist and writer who makes body based dance/installation/theater work that is often influenced by her Yup’ik heritage. Originally from Alaska, she is currently based in Minneapolis. Johnson received a 2012 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance for her work, "The Thank-you Bar" at New York Live Arts. She is a 2012 Headlands Artist in Residence and Alpert/MacDowell Colony recipient, a 2011 Native Arts and Cultures Fellow, a 2012, 2010 and 2009 MAP Fund Grant recipient, and a 2009 McKnight Fellow. "Niicugni" the second in a trilogy that began with "The Thank-you Bar," tours through 2013 to the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography/Florida State University, Coil Festival/Baryshnikov Arts Center, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Northrop Auditorium/Women of Substance Series, Bunnell St. Gallery in Alaska, RedFern Arts Center/Keene College with Vermont Performance Lab, ASU/Gammage, and TigerTail in Miami. Emily is of Yup’ik descent and is a shareholder in the CalistaNative Corporation.

The creation and presentation of "Niicugni" is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts in cooperation with the New England Foundation for the Arts though the National Dance Project. Major support for NDP is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with additional support from the Community Connections Fund of the MetLife Foundation with support from the NEA provides funding for choreographers in the early stages of their careers. The Beyond series media partner is 91.5 KJZZ and 89.5 KBAQ. Emily Johnson/Catalyst presented in partnership with the ASU School of Dance at Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.