North Adams, MA – After a week-long dance residency, Alaskan choreographer Emily Johnson and her company, Catalyst, present a work-in-progress informal “showing” of her newest work, Niicugni (Listen), in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Friday, November 16, at 8 PM. Performed by Aretha Aoki and Johnson herself and with sound by James Everest and Bethany Lacktorin, Niicugni is an evocative movement installation that Dance Magazine calls “simultaneously vulnerable and commanding, mythical and wry.”
Niicugni is a new dance performance centered on movement, story, and sound. The piece is housed within an installation of functional handcrafted lanterns made of fish skin. Johnson acknowledges the frequent presence of salmon in her life – from her family heritage, to her childhood in Alaska, to her development as an artist now based in Minneapolis – by incorporating it into the work as hanging lanterns that create both light and sound. Through the fish skin lanterns and movement onstage, Niicugni equates the land people live on with the cells that comprise their physical beings: both land and bodies are very much alive with ancestry, memory, and possibility.
Up to 40 participants from the local community will participate in this piece. Johnson will work extensively with several groups of people sharing a common interest – such as knitting, gardening, painting, or playing soccer – to create a complex gesture of movement that will be intricately woven through the piece. The community participants will join Johnson and the company of dancers onstage in performance after intimate workshops and rehearsals.