Inside the Pillow Lab: Emily Johnson / Catalyst


Inside the Pillow Lab captures works in process by artists during their fall COVID-compliant residencies. The Pillow Lab, the Pillow’s year-round center for research and development, provides artists the crucial space and time in development, research, and technical stages of choreography-driven projects. Emily Johnson’s work is “a domain in which dream and memory and history meet in present-day… and reach out their arms to one another” (Deborah Jowitt, Arts Journal). In her first residency at the Pillow, Johnson developed "Being Future Being," a new, richly layered evening-length performance for the stage and beyond. Working with one other dancer as well as Indigenous scholars during her Pillow Lab residency, Johnson will later incorporate an ensemble of four Indigenous performers and a chorus of ten more-than-human creatures—an omnipresent collective adorned in futuristic garments crafted from community-sewn quilts, designed by Ojibwe textile artist Maggie Thompson. "Being Future Being" contains narrative elements from Johnson’s own family history, a commissioned score sung by a BIPOC community chorus, a soundscape by Diné composer Raven Chacon, and movement, projections, and scenic design that build a visual and aural landscape of Indigenous power. "Being Future Being" asks audiences to consider new stories with the power to sustain a world that must begin again, with the goal of igniting community stewardship. Emily Johnson is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award. Originally from Alaska and now based in New York, Johnson is of the Yup’ik Nation and since 1998 has made work that considers the experience of seeing and sensing performance. Her works have included opera (Doctor Atomic at the Santa Fe Opera, directed by Peter Sellars) and durational performance gatherings (Then A Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing At Stars, an all-night outdoor event that took place in the midst of 84 community-hand-made quilts, premiered on the Lower East Side of Manhattan), and have been presented across the United States and Australia. Johnson is a lead organizer of First Nations Dialogues and part of a US-based advisory group—including Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier, Ronee Penoi, and Vallejo Gantner—who are developing a Global First Nations Performance Network. Jacob's Pillow rests on the unceded lands of the Muh-he-con-ne-ok, and recognizes the Agawam, Nipmuc, and Pocumtuc who also made their homes in Western Massachusetts. We honor their Elders past, present, and future. Your support brings artists together again. Please support the Pillow Lab and other Jacob's Pillow programs at or text "PILLOW" to 51555. Inside the Pillow Lab Emily Johnson RESIDENCY DATES: November 4-14, 2020 CHOREOGRAPHER Emily Johnson Artistic Director, Emily Johnson / Catalyst COLLABORATORS: Performer Jasmine Shorty Scholars Karyn Recollet Dylan Robinson Camille Usher Joseph M Pierce Special Thanks Spicer Being Future Being Being Future Being is commissioned by the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage, Santa Monica, and made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Being Future Being is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project supported by Bunnell Street Arts Center (AK); New York Live Arts (NY); and Portland Institute for Contemporary Arts (OR) and NPN, with contributions from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts (a federal agency), for more information: Being Future Being is developed with residency support from the Pillow Lab at Jacob’s Pillow, Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Live Feed creative residency at New York Live Arts, and Abrons Art Center’s artist-in-residence. • • • VIDEO PRODUCTION CREDITS VIDEOGRAPHER Ellen Maynard NEL SHELBY PRODUCTION CREDITS Produced by Nel Shelby of Nel Shelby Productions Directed & Edited by Ashli Bickford Graphic Design by Benjamin Richards • • • THE 2020-2021 PILLOW LAB RECEIVES LEADERSHIP SUPPORT FROM: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation The Barr Foundation WITH ADDITIONAL SUPPORT FROM: Deborah & Charles Adelman Arison Arts Foundation Harkness Foundation for Dance Christopher Jones & Deb McAlister Mertz Gilmore Foundation National Endowment for the Arts © 2020 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Inc.

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