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Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. A Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, she is based in New York City. Originally from Alaska, Emily is of Yup’ik descent, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and installations, engaging audiences within and through space, time, and environment—interacting with a place's architecture, peoples, history and role in community. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future.


Her 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 amongst 84 community-hand-made quilts. It premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC), (2017), and was presented in Chicago (2019). Her new work in development, Being Future Being, considers future creation stories and present joy.


Emily's writing has been published and commissioned by Dance Research Journal (University of Cambridge Press); SFMOMA; Transmotion Journal, University of Kent; Movement Research Journal; Pew Center for Arts and Heritage; and the recent compilation Imagined Theaters (Routledge), edited by Daniel Sack. She is an advisory committee member for Creative Time's 10th Anniversary Summit and the Advancing Indigenous Performance Initiative of Western Arts Alliance. She also serves on the Native American Arts Program Expansion Committee for Idyllwild Arts, is the Pueblo Arts Collaborative Diplomat at Santa Fe Opera, and a lead organiser of First Nations Dialogues.


Emily 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—including Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier and Vallejo Gantner —who, with international colleagues, are developing a Global First Nations Performance Network.

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Instigating Institutional Change Towards Decolonization

Instigating Institutional Change Towards Decolonization

13 April 2020

Roya Amirsoleymani and Erin Boberg Doughton of the Portland Institute of for Contemporary Art share the steps they’ve taken toward decolonizing and indigenizing the practices and curatorial processes of their organization, which have been supported by Emily Johnson and the advisory council of the Global First Nations Performance Network.