Emily Johnson

She // Her // Hers

[ID: Emily, a Yup’ik woman with long dark hair, wears a black v-neck shirt and pointed earrings against a dark background.]

Choreographer and Body-Based Artist
New York, NY
2021 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. Johnson is a land and water protector and an activist for justice, sovereignty and well-being. A Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award, she is based in Lenapehoking / New York City. She is of the Yup’ik Nation and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions; they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment—interacting with a place’s architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures. She is trying to make a world where performance is part of life, where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present, and future.

She hosts monthly ceremonial fires on Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center and Karyn Recollet. Johnson was a co-compiler of the document, Creating New Futures: Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts and is part of an advisory group, with Reuben Roqueni, Ed Bourgeois, Lori Pourier, Ronee Penoi, and Vallejo Gantner, developing a First Nations Performing Arts Network.

Portrait photo by Tracy Rector and Melissa Ponder.

  • Artwork by Emily Johnson
    Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars, 2017. 15 hours. Randall’s Island with Performance Space New York. Photo by Paula Court
    [ID: A large group of people sits huddled together on blankets in the early morning light sharing food.]
Artwork by Emily Johnson