Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an activist for justice, sovereignty and well-being. PHOTO COURTESY OF TRACY RECTOR AND MELISSA PONDER

Virtual conversation on Indigeneity March 3



PORTLAND — Join Portland Ovations, Indigo Arts Alliance and a group of North American Indigenous artists in a sweeping conversation, Seeking Resonance: Toward Being Future Beings, on Wednesday, March 3 at 4 p.m. via Zoom.

This gathering looks toward the development of renowned Yup’ik artist and choreographer Emily Johnson’s new multidisciplinary project, “Being Future Being,” of which Portland Ovations is a co-commissioner.

This virtual conversation brings Maine-based artists Jason Brown (Penobscot), Donna Decontie (Penobscot) and Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy) into dialogue with Johnson, her collaborators Drew Michael (Yup’ik and Inupiaq) and Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe), and you. The conversation will span fashion, dance, performance, music, and textile and visual arts in a discussion about their experiences as Indigenous artists making work today and their relationships to tradition, place, spirituality and more.

The Seeking Resonance Series is a partnership between Portland Ovations and Indigo Arts Alliance, in collaboration with the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center.

Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an activist for justice, sovereignty and well-being. She is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim and United States Artists Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award. She is based in Lenapehoking, New York City, and is of the Yup’ik Nation. Since 1998, Johnson has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance.

Johnson’s choreography and gatherings have been presented across the United States and Australia. Recently she choreographed the Santa Fe Opera production of “Doctor Atomic,” directed by Peter Sellars. 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 among 84 community handmade quilts. It premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC) in 2017 and was presented in Zhigaagoong (Chicago) in 2019. Her new work in development, ‘Being Future Being,’ considers future creation stories and present joy.

Johnson’s writing has been published and commissioned by 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. She was an advisory committee member for Creative Time’s 10th Anniversary Summit and a Phase One working group member of Creating New Futures. She serves on the advisory committee for Advancing Indigenous Performance Initiative of Western Arts Alliance, The Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and the Native American Arts Program Expansion Committee for Idyllwild Arts. She is the Pueblo Arts Collaborative Diplomat at Santa Fe Opera, and a lead organizer of First Nations Dialogues.

Johnson also hosts monthly ceremonial fires on the Lower East Side of Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center. She is part of a US based advisory group that includes Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier, Ronee Penoi and Vallejo Gantner, who are developing a First Nations Performing Arts Network.

RSVP at portlandovations.org.

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