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Emily Johnson to premiere "Being Future Being" at New York Live Arts

Emily Johnson to premiere "Being Future Being" at New York Live Arts


Emily Johnson


New York Live Arts
219 W 19th Street
New York, NY 10011


Thursday, October 20, 2022 - 7:30pm daily through October 22, 2022



Emily Johnson







New York, NY (July 20, 2022) – Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s new evening-length performance, Being Future Being, integrates movement, images, story, and sound in a kinetically rich social architecture that centers Indigenous thrivance. Created by choreographer and writer Emily Johnson, who belongs to the Yup’ik Nation, and featuring a commissioned score by Pulitzer Prize-winning Diné composer Raven Chacon, Being Future Being will have its world premiere at BroadStage at Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center, September 8–10, 2022, followed by performances at New York Live Arts, October 20–22.

Described by The New York Times as “a magnetic performer, adept at mobilizing people, onstage and off,” Johnson has created a distinguished body of dance works and social choreographies that gather audiences in a shared experience of movement, place, history, collective action, and the continuance of Indigenous knowledge and process. In Being Future Being, Johnson, along with an extraordinary group of collaborators, delves into the power of creation, building a visual, aural, and ancestral landscape of Indigenous power. By (re)building new visions of the forces that brought this world into being, the multilayered performance becomes a site for transformation, ushering into focus new futures with the potential to reshape the way we relate to ourselves, our environment, and to the human and more-than-human cohabitants of our world. 

Being Future Being is a starting point for relationship, explains Johnson. “The work asks audiences to join in community processes that move from each presentation out into the world in what I call the Speculative Architecture of the Overflow, with actions that directly support local rematriative, protection, and Land Back efforts. The Overflow is resonance, moving in the in-between, in-the- collective, in-the-invitation to GATHER HERE. Can the Overflow become supported, beyond the moment of the performance gathering, a speculative architecture resisting BUILD, but living, ongoing in an otherwise?” The Speculative Architecture of the Overflow is Indigenous-led and developed in collaboration with community organizers, land defenders, and water protectors in ways that foster Indigenous kinship, accomplices, and audience relationships. 

“One day, civil rights and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples will be recognized in relation to land. Power imbalance and extraction will not be the default relationship in our working lives. Theft of, abuses on, and lack of recognition of Indigenous land and water will not be tolerated.”

—Emily Johnson (Inaugural Lecture Series, The Open Society University Network’s Center for Human Rights and the Arts at Bard College). 

The creative team includes choreographer/writer/performer Emily Johnson; composer Raven Chacon; sound designer Chloe Alexandra Thompson, who is Cree; visual artist, designer, and traditional tattooer Holly Mititquq Nordlum, who is Iñupiaq; IV Castellanos, who is mx Indige Quechua/Guaraní, made the masks and wearables and is production manager and interconnector for the Speculative Architecture of the Overflow. Quilt-Beings are designed by Korina Emmerich, who is Puyallup, with quilts (redistributed from Johnson’s Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars) designed by Maggie Thompson, who is Fond du Lac Ojibwe. Costumes are by Raphael Regan, who is Sisseton-Wahpeton, Eastern Band of Cherokee and Diné. Scenic fabricator is Joseph Silovsky, lighting designer is Itohan Edoloyi, and performers are Ashley Pierre-Louis, Jasmine Shorty, who is Diné, Stacy Lynn Smith, and Sugar Vendil. Being Future Being is produced by George Lugg. The administrative steward is Kevin Holden, who is Diné.

The ongoing process of creating Being Future Being includes a kinstillatory network of collaborators whom Johnson has convened in four interrelated groups: Branch of Knowledge, Scholarship, Making, Action—central partners who guide relational frameworks in the work and steward its values. 

The Branch of Knowledge is a group of womxn and femmes from Nations across the Lenape diaspora who work in creative guidance and new protocol forms, and help forge pathways for Lenapeyok return to Lenapehoking. Community organizer River Whittle, who is of the Caddo Nation and Delaware Nation of Oklahoma, leads these bi-weekly gatherings. The group will meet and gather in their homelands together for the first time during the NYC premiere of Being Future Being. The Branch of Scholarship is comprised of visionary scholars/organizers Karyn Recollet, who is urban diasporic Cree and teaches gender studies/Indigenous futurity at University of Toronto; Dylan Robinson, Stó:lō author and researcher of Indigenous arts; Joseph M. Pierce, who is a writer, curator, and citizen of the Cherokee Nation; and Camille Usher, who is Coast Salish/Sahtu Dene/Scottish and holds a doctorate on gathering. The Branch of Action: Architecture of the Overflow flows out from the performances with audiences and community partners. Guided by IV Castellanos, the goal is to craft replicable, locally responsive, Indigenous-centered actions that encourage collective community self-determination and direct response, support, and action with local land rematriation and protection efforts. The Branch of Making is Being Future Being’s creative team. 

Performances at BroadStage are September 8–10 (Thursday–Saturday) at 7:30pm.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit http://www.broadstage.org. BroadStage is on the ancestral unceded territory of the Gabrieleno, Tongva, and Kizh people.

Performances at New York Live Arts are October 20–22 (Thursday–Saturday) at 7:30pm.
For more information, go to www.newyorklivearts.org. New York Live Arts is located in Lenapehoking, the homeland of the Lenape people.  

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