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Emily Johnson
Photo by Cameron Wittig Emily Johnson, Choreographer


Call & Response + On Dance & Performance
On Dance & Performance


January-February, 2008

We all make something out of nothing.

I'm starting Call & Response with a simple idea; I want to write about dance, performance, and the people who make it.

In truth, I want everyone in the entire world to love attending dance performances; I want everyone in the entire world to have patience for performance, to experience thrill upon a performers' discovery, to relate contemporary performance with the performances of their ancestors, and to need a constant connection to viewing the manifestation of another persons' ideas into movement and staging. I want us all to expect meaning and I want us all to be satisfied when there is no meaning to be found. I want everyone in the entire world to love, to NEED and to read of choreographers and performance the way we love and need food and sex. I want us all sated and I want us all wanting more.

I will interview dance makers and talk of their histories, processes, and burning desires. I will write about what contemporary dance is and can be. I expect my ideas will alter and clarify as I go.

In full disclosure, I think too much writing about dance is scholarly and narrowly focused; too Western in ideal and perspective. Interpretation in dance writing often outweighs respect for the unknown, which sways readers and audiences into needing performance to make sense in a way other than what the choreographer offers, and the strict adherence to a linear time frame in alot of dance writing undermines the almost true fact that choreographers and dancers have the ability to stop time, to speed it up, to slow it down... I think dance writing can be more aligned with dance and performance, can acknowledge the time put into creating a performance piece, and usurp the tradition of critique as final word.

I grew up in Alaska, am of Yup'ik decent and live a Native worldview that is close to my heart and largely determines my interactions with power, dominant structures, natural forces and art. I am a choreographer and make nonlinear, though often narrative based, contemporary dance work. I believe in the act of performing and I believe in the act of making dances, in every form and style that exists and is yet to exist.

Though I have rehearsed, studied, created, produced, thought, written or talked about dance every single day since February of 1995, I am in no way an expert. I will only offer some ideas and a place for dance makers to say what they are thinking.

So here I am, starting with nothing but a simple idea and a brand new forum with which to work; with no real expectation about what Call & Response will be, but with very high hopes...


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