Meredith L. Boggia
Independent Creative Producer
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Emily Johnson / Catalyst

Emily Johnson / Catalyst



"I view our bodies as everything: culture, history, present, future simultaneously. Out of respect for and trust in our bodies and collective memories, I give equal weight to story and image, to movement and stillness, to what I imagine and to what I do not know." —Emily Johnson

Emily is an artist who makes body-based work. Originally from Alaska and currently based in Minneapolis, she creates 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, presents, and futures. 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. Recently, someone told her that she makes dance for “the dance snobs” and she makes dance for “people who generally don’t like dance.” She would like to think that is true; she would like to think that her dances are for everybody and that maybe they enlighten small aspects of our existence. Emily is an Artist in Residence at Williams College through 2015.

Press Quotes

"a stunning example of an emerging contemporary American aesthetic" —Theodore Bale, Houston Chronicle
“Ms. Johnson, a magnetic performer, is adept at mobilizing people, onstage and off; you want to follow.” —Siobhan Burke, New York Times
"Before the lanterned darkness empties us back out, let’s take more time to listen to these ingenious muscles, nerves, and bones that channel the migrating fish, the statuesque fox, the eternal swaggering bear." —Siobhan Burke, Performance Club
"In a fierce duet, the women become need made manifest and driven hard by animal instinct -- need and instinct transformed into breathtaking movement that forces the viewer to look at what they’re becoming. The dancers stop, literally sucking air, like beached fish. Their faces contort through laughter, rage and grief until they become monsters themselves."—Camile LeFevre, MN Artists

Upcoming Works


Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing At Stars is a multi-year project focused on all night stargazing. The work includes in equal measure: making quilts, performance, storytelling, song, and a night of stargazing. It relies upon people coming together to voice intentions, witness, work, experience time, rest, and imagine. 
APAP 2016 One Sheet Available here


SHORE is Emily Johnson / Catalyst's third part of the trilogy of works that began with The Thank-you Bar and continued with Niicugni. SHORE is a multi-day performance installation of four equal parts: dance, story, volunteerism, and feasting. It is a celebration of the place where we meet and merge - land and water, performer and audience, art and community, past, present, and future.

On the Boards (Seattle, Washington) / October 15–17, 2015
Yelamu (San Francisco, California) / August 2–8, 2015
Northrop Presents (Minneapolis, MN) / June 20, 21, 2015
New York Premiere: NEW YORK LIVE ARTS / April 23–25, 2015

Photos of SHORE available here