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Emily Johnson: The Thank-You Bar

A jukebox, a roadside bar, a fish that never dies.

With musicians James Everest and Joel Pickard, Alaska-born choreographer Emily Johnson connects ideas of displacement, longing, and language to history, architecture, and igloo-myth. The Thank-You Bar creates an intimate space for the truths and illusions of Johnson’s stories to permeate our collective memories.

Johnson is a Minneapolis-based director/choreographer/curator, originally from Alaska. Since 1998 she has created work that extends the audience experience of the theater by engaging in installations that blur distinctions between performance and daily life. Johnson has toured her work across the USA, Canada and Russia. She is a 2010 McKnight Fellow and was a 2009 MANCC Choreographer Fellow. The Thank-You Bar features live music from Everest and Pickard of BLACKFISH, along with lighting design by Heidi Eckwall, beadwork by Karen Beaver, and paper sculpture by Krista Walsh.

The Thank You-Bar is presented in conjunction with This is Displacement: Native Artists Consider the Relationship Between Land and Identity.

I speak about the bottom of a river, but lay in a plastic kiddie pool. I talk about a fish that can swim to your belly and never truly die. I play my Yup’ik drum, but no one in the audience ever sees it. We hear deconstructed country music on guitar and pedal steel. We see storied images relayed through beading onto my costume. And, while the audience is seated in a semi-circle around the musicians, they swivel on their chairs to see me walking toward them on stilts. They see a movement vocabulary that is part somersault, part hand gesture, part animal imagery. They hold illuminated lightboxes and become part of the image. They see a beaver lodge, they see an igloo-myth, they see the theater walls and I offer the question: What is a true home?

The Thank-You Bar is an intimate performance experience intended to engage many levels of perception and expression. Through a sophisticated concept of theatrical space, unique and powerfully minimalist dancing, and a multi-layered original soundscore, Johnson’s illusory – yet partly-true – stories ride the confluences of truth and myth.

The show is intended for a small audience.  Appropriate for all ages.

The presentation of Emily Johnson/Catalyst was made possible by the MetLife Community Connections Fund of the National Dance Project, a program administered by the New England Foundation for the Arts. Major support for the National Dance Project is also provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with additional support from the Ford Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Thank-you Bar is made possible by support from the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development, The MAP Fund, Subito/American Composers Forum and the National Performance Network (NPN). Major contributors of NPN are the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation, Nathan Cummings Foundation, MetLife Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency). www.npnweb.org.

Date & Time:

April 28, 29 & 30, 2011, 7:30 pm


1117 E Freeway
Houston, TX 77002

Additional Information:

Emily Johnson / Catalyst Dance: Website