Emily Johnson / Catalyst (USA)
Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars
Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars weaves together stories and performance with the exchange of ideas, the sharing of food, and the endurance of spending a night together outside under the stars and sky. Taking place at Randall’s Island Park, beginning at dusk and continuing until after sunrise, Then a Cunning Voice… invites audience members into a multilayered, participatory work that focuses attention on the space we share and on envisioning the future.
Then a Cunning Voice… asks: “What do you want for your well-being? For the well-being of your chosen friends and family? For your neighborhood? For your town, city, reserve, tribal nation, world?”
Throughout the night the audience will be guided through a series of richly crafted events—part ritual, part lyrical adventure—created by Johnson in collaboration with performers Tania Isaac and 12-year-old Georgia Lucas. The performance will begin with an opening ceremony and a group walk that arrives at the shores of the East River and unfolds on 4,000 square feet of quilts. Designed by textile artist Maggie Thompson, each quilt has been hand-made by volunteers at community sewing bees around the U.S. and in Taiwan and Australia over the last three years. The quilts serve as audience seating, performance area, resting area, and “home” for the duration.
The night creates much-needed space for connection between people near and far, between youth and elders, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and between urban and rural experiences, with an emphasis on engaged citizenship.
It is celebratory, to come together like this.
All Night Performance
Aug 19, 2017
5:30pm – 8am
Randall’s Island Park, NYC
Emily Johnson, Artistic Director
Tania Isaac, Performer
Georgia Lucas, Performer
Lenore Doxsee, Lighting Designer
Ain Gordon, Director
Maggie Thompson, Designer/ Textile Artist
Jen Rae, Artist and Food Futurist
Meredith Boggia, Creative Producer, Project and Tour Manager
Matt Evans, Stage manager
Yumi Tamashiro, Managing Director and Special Projects
Janet Stapleton, Press representative
Recorded Sound and Story Contributors: James Everest , Julia Bither, Margot Bassett
The Lenapehoking hosting of Then a Cunning Voice is performed and conjured with: (listed in order of appearance)
Tatyana Tenenbaum (Lead)
Grey McMurray, Balladeer
Lynn Bechtold, Violinist
Muriel Miguel, Storyteller
Joe Baker and Hadrien Coumans, Storytellers and representatives from Lenape Cultural Center
Eric Peterson, Storyteller and historian
Karyn Recollet, Fellow Kinstillatory Activator
Sm Łoodm ’Nüüsm- Mique’l Dangeli
Luz Carime Santa-Coloma
The Lenape Center
Broome St. Academy
Abrons Art Center
Ideas City at New Museum
Randall’s Island Park Alliance
Urban Farm on Randall’s Island
New York Live Arts
About the Artist
Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. A Bessie Award winning choreographer and 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Choreography, she is based in Minneapolis and New York City. Originally from Alaska, she is of Yup’ik descent and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment—interacting with a place’s architecture, 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. She receives inspiration from the annual migration of salmon, who swim upstream for thousands of miles because they must. She has watched these salmon swim up waterfalls and she believes humans can also be called to do amazing things. She has been told that she makes dance for “dance-lovers” and she makes dance for “people-who-generally-don’t-like-dance.” She would like to think that this is true; she would like to think that her dances are for every body and that maybe they enlighten small aspects of our existence. Emily received a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and her work is supported by Creative Capital, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Map Fund, a Joyce Award, the McKnight Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and The Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts. Emily is a current Mellon Choreography Fellow at Williams College and was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, 2013 – 2015, an inaugral Fellow at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, a 2012 Headlands Center for the Arts and MacDowell Artist in Residence, a Native Arts and Cultures Fellow (2011), a MANCC Choreographer Fellow (2009/2010/2012/2014/2016), a MAP Fund Grant recipient (2009/2010/2012/2013), and McKnight Fellow (2009, 2012). Her new work, Then Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all night, outdoor performance gathering. It will premiere in 2017 and tour to Williamstown, MA; New York City; San Francisco; Chicago; and Melbourne, Australia.
About the Randall’s Island Park Alliance
The Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA), founded in 1992, is a public-private partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Celebrating 25 years as the dedicated steward of Randall’s Island Park, the Alliance working with the City and local communities to sustain, maintain, develop, and program the Park to support the well-being of all New Yorkers. The Park offers miles of waterfront pathways, 20 acres of natural areas and wetlands, an urban farm, a track and field stadium, a golf center, a 20-court tennis center and dozens of new playing fields, as well as the Harlem River Event Site.
Then a Cunning Voice has been made possible with the generous support of Lisa Fox, Nancy Black and our Kickstarter Backers:
Adriana Leshko, Alex Hudson, Alex Reeves, Alexandra Phelps, Alicia Lucas, Allison Kline, Amanda Douge, Amanda Palmer, Andrea Mastrovito, Andy Fowler, Angharad Wynne-Jones, Annabelle, Anneke Hansen, Asia Freeman, Atellani, Ben Pryor, Brandon Stosuy, Brendan Griffiths, Charles Dennis, Carol Devine, Carol Mammono, Chet Kerr, Chris Green, Daniel Sharp, Debbie Clark, Debbie Millman, Eli Scheier, Elisabeth Lazarou, Emily Johnson, Enrico Ciotti, Eric Damon Walter, Fay Simpson, Frank Spelman, Gavender, Gillian Holmes, Giorgio Zanardi, Janet Stapleton, Nancy Black, Helen Warwick, Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, Isabel Kirsch, Isabella Alimonti, Ivan Martinez, James Mendelsohn, James Turnbull, Jamyson Harris, Janet Wong, Jeannine Murray-Roman, Jenny, Jeska Dzwigalski, Jesssica Massart, John Kane, John McGrath, John Scott, Jon Hendricks, Jonah Bokaer, Jordan Harrison, Josh Quillen, Kathleen Chopin, Kathryn Yu, Keith Wasserman, Ken Dale, Kickstarter, Kim, Kimberleigh Costanzo, Kimberly Drew, Kiwi Design, Kristina Wong, Laura, Liliana Dirks-Goodman, Lindsay Barenz, Lisa, Maria Brito, Martin Vitek, Mary Rose Lloyd, Matthew Lutz Kinoy, Melanie Sharp, Michael and Liz, Mio Nakamura, Monika Jouvert, Naomi Black, Nick Smit, Nicole Birmann Bloom, Ninulya Lebedinov, Overdose & The Lady Capri, Paul Puccioni, Paula Bennett, Peggy Gould, Penny, Perfect City, Peter Eckersall, Polly Barnes, Rebecca Grubaugh, Risa Shoup, Rodney Uhler, Ron Vron Claws, Sam Green, Sandra Garner, SK Gaski, Soraya Haas, Suzanne Geiss, Tan Zhuo Quan, Tanya Selvaratnam, Tara, Thomas Kriegsmann, Tim Wilson, TJ, Todd Bishop, Vallejo Gantner, Victoria Rogers, Willa Koerner, Winnie Fung, Yancey Strickler, Yes!
Featured image from Emily Johnson’s “Then A Cunning Voice” residency provided courtesy of MANCC
Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is supported by a National Dance Project Touring Award from the New England Foundation for the Arts, MAP Fund, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The world premiere is presented by Performance Space 122 with support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Legislature.
Development support for Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars was made possible through residencies at Push Festival (Vancouver, BC), Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (Tallahassee, FL), and a Forecast Public Art/RARE Residency (Richfield, MN). Development support for activities at Williams College are supported by the Mellon Foundation.