Emily Johnson’s SHORE Celebrates the Places Where Landscapes and Bodies Meet and Merge

Emily Johnson/Catalyst (2013 Performing Arts) is bringing the expansive installation SHORE to New York this month, with gatherings and events throughout the city (April 19-26) and performances at New York Live Arts (April 23-25). SHORE expands beyond the theater to celebrate the places where we meet and merge—land and water; performer and audience; art and community; past, present, and future.

Throughout her work, Johnson asks: How can performance uniquely connect us to our land, our lives and each other? A native of Alaska who is based in Minneapolis, Johnson has spent the past four months working with community partners to plan this locally-specific version of SHORE in New York City, or as the Native Americans called it, Lenapehoking (“land of the Lenape”). She describes the events planned for SHORE in Lenapehoking: “SHORE moves, over the course of a week, from the dunes in the Rockaways, to the East River estuary, onto and into New York Harbor, over Minetta Creek, to the banks and buoyancy of Newtown Creek. We’ll listen to stories, we’ll work together, we’ll share food and this performance, taking care of what we need to care for. We’ll walk and bike and canoe and celebrate.”

Emily Johnson/Catalyst, SHORE. Photo by Erin Westover.

Emily Johnson/Catalyst, SHORE. Photo by Erin Westover.

In addition to the community events and performances, Johnson is commissioning writers in each city where she presents SHORE to contribute essays about their experiences. The essays, which can be found on the Catalyst website, eloquently evoke the spirit of the project: finding and creating dance through a celebration of the land and the community, creating performance not just on a stage, but through volunteerism, feasting, and storytelling. Below is the essay artist and playwright Will MacAdams wrote about participating in SHORE in Minneapolis:

Emily Johnson tells me that the first time she realized she was dancing was when she was hugging a tree as a little girl and she felt it’s swaying and she realized she was swaying with it.

I like imagining dance like that: something you echo, something you already are. I thought of it often when I was watching Catalyst’s SHORE, as well as planting in the rain garden at East River Flats and participating in the feast at Foxtail Farm.

Wait, Emily told me the story of her dancing with the tree after I did all of those things. True, but didn’t the story of the tree at the top of SHORE move forward and backward through time, as if to say: the past, the future, the present, they are knotted together like roots?

Yes. So…after I heard about the trees dancing, I saw movement everywhere in SHORE:

In the shivering crate that Emily stood on to tell us about the tree, her hand shivering as she told it. In the audience member who moved toward her, whose hand held her up.

In the walking across the grass at the top of SHORE, dancers young and old, formally trained and not. In the way that a child moves before being taught the coffin of straight lines. In the dancers running around the perimeter, washing toward us, a flood. In a woman dancing, nine months pregnant, a child dancing inside the water inside her.

In a longing for touch that came through on the stage at Northrop: Emily reaching out to other bodies, especially female ones, reaching out to touch, to be touched; in the velvet voice of Nona Marie Invie that sang to us and also turned away from us, as if SHORE came with two invitations: one saying, “Come closer,” and the other, “I do not know if I am ready to tell you this.” In trees in planters at the far end of the stage, emissaries of the tree described at the top of the show, but with none of its wildness. Are they longing for touch, too? Will they carry word back to the wild woods to join the dance? I leave feeling beauty, pain, hope, but most of all longing—is it because I, too, dream of dancing with the trees?

In the planting in the rain garden, where the Ranger, our tour guide, tells us proudly about a conversation with his daughter about the shape of the Mississippi, which for him is serpentine. But his daughter insists that it is round: from the river, to the sky, to the clouds, to the rain, and back again. I wonder: how can we dance with the serpent and the sky?

And here at the feast, at a long table filled with food and laughter and stories: of the three bean soup from the Dream of Wild Health cookbook and the Native owned / Native grown farm that sustains it; of the strawberries picked this morning in the drizzling fields of the Foxtail Farm; of the best-ever, still-warm strawberry shortcake; of the music, arranged like a good recipe by James Everest; and of all the food made with care for this meal. Somewhere close, there are hands sowing the fields, sewing stories, knitting together our knotted roots.

And, after the feast, a walk through the muddy fields where I carry two metal chairs that feel heavier by the step (every homesteading family has its awkward uncle) and then we arrive by a tree under the blanket of dusk. We listen to Ben Weaver’s songs of wandering, of camping and of being on the road. His voice will soon carry him on a trip down the Mississippi to New Orleans, and it gives me a new image for the shape of the river: not serpentine or round but the shape of a wanderer’s song.

And there is danger in movement, too. My friend Nick Slie, from New Orleans, is well-aware of water lines, so he points out that the trees we see as we cross the bridge into Wisconsin are not trees but tree tops, and I realize that this bridge isn’t supposed to rest on the water like this. This dance, this three-day SHORE dance, isn’t just a celebration, I learn. It is a warning. A global warning of a loneliness that I can’t even conceive. And yet even within that warning I find hope, because inside the warning there is a morning we remember and this company dances on the thread between that morning and this moment and so there is the possibility that this very moment might be a step to a brighter tomorrow; yes, the fact that you are seeing it, hearing it, that means that you remember that tomorrow, and maybe if enough people come together to see what they already know then this dance will help light the way.

–Will MacAdams, July 2014

Emily Johnson’s SHORE in Lenapehoking runs April 19-26. Click here for details on all events.

Applying to Creative Capital? What you need to know

A still from 2013 Performing Arts Awardee Kyle Abraham's "Pavement." Photo by Carrie Schneider.

A still from 2013 Performing Arts Awardee Kyle Abraham’s “Pavement.” Photo by Carrie Schneider.

Today, we begin accepting applications for Creative Capital’s Awards in Emerging Fields, Literature and Performing Arts, due Monday, March 2 at 4pm EST. We’d like to take a moment to tell you about ourselves and the award, and to answer some of our most frequently asked questions.

What distinguishes Creative Capital from more traditional funders?
Now in our second decade, Creative Capital continues to consider itself the premiere provider of risk capital in the arts—taking chances on projects that are singularly bold, innovative and genre-stretching. We want to support the latest thinking in the field: ideas of scope and ambition expressed through audacious combinations of form and content; varied projects that engage or even create new technologies; and works that take traditional approaches into new territories, teaching us something new about the world and ourselves. We often provide early support for projects that initially have challenges receiving funding from other sources. Continue reading

The Art of Conversation: Five Questions for Moira Brennan

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Moira Brennan leads a session at the Theatre Communications Group National Conference in 2010.

Moira Brennan is an arts writer and Program Director of the MAP Fund. On Monday, January 19, she will host a live, online discussion with cultural producer and performance curator Caleb Hammons. This webinar is the first performing arts edition of our Conversations Inside series. To be a part of the conversation, register here.

We had a chance to ask Moira some questions about her upcoming webinar series, in addition to a few things we just wanted her opinion on:
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Say Something Ridiculous – Celebrating With Champagne Jerry

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Leading up to Thanksgiving, Creative Capital celebrated their 15th anniversary with a series of performances at Joe’s Pub running Monday November 24 through Wednesday November 26. The week kicked off with a champagne toast from none-other than Champagne Jerry and his entourage, the Champagne Club, featuring Max Tannone, Sophia Cleary, Gillian Walsh, Farris Craddock, with an appearance by Beastie Boys’ Ad-Rock. I was sold from the get go—a ruckus entrance with confetti poppers and table dancing—and kept laughing through the epic, melting, slow motion finale. And I left with this piece of advice: “Say something ridiculous.” So in the spirit of the hilarity that ensued that evening, I caught up with Neal Medlyn (2013 Performing Arts), aka Champagne Jerry, for a conversation on celebration.

Brighid Greene: Creative Capital is celebrating 15 years; what were you up to 15 years ago?

Neal Medlyn: Fifteen years ago I was living in Texas playing experimental noise music in coffee shops for horrified people. I was a few months out from quitting my noise band, taking my boom box to various cafes and galleries in Austin, and putting on Lionel Richie songs and running amok in front of horrified Austinites.

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10 Things You Might Not Know About Meredith Monk

Meredith Monk

In 1964 American composer and musician Meredith Monk (2000 Performing Arts) came to New York to begin an incredibly prolific and inspirational career. 50 years later multiple venues and institutions are celebrating her time in New York. Early in Creative Capital’s history, Monk received a grant for her work mercy, a collaboration with Ann Hamilton. As Creative Capital and Meredith Monk both celebrate important anniversary milestones, we thought we would do our part in honoring the artist by presenting 10 things you might not know about her work.

1. She’s a filmmaker too?!

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As the New York Times wrote in 1990: Monk has created “dances that were operas, operas that were dances and mythic theater pieces that were operas and dances. To complicate matters, Ms. Monk is also a filmmaker…” One of her films, Book of Dayswas a visceral flirtation with a television audience in the early 90s.

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Artist to Artist: Byron Au Yong Interviews Dohee Lee

Dohee Lee as MAGO. Photo by Pak Han

Dohee Lee as the Korean goddess Mago. Photo by Pak Han

As part of our Artist-to-Artist conversation series, Byron Au Yong (2009 Performing Arts) sat down with Dohee Lee (2013 Performing Arts) to learn more about Lee’s project MAGO, an immersive performance that blends traditional Korean arts and shamanism in a modern context. Drawing on Lee’s own family history and the current political and environmental crisis taking place in the South Korean island where she was born, Lee weaves myth, ritual, ancestors, memory, present and future into a powerful performance journey.

Byron Au Yong: You’ve been developing MAGO for a few years. This past year, there have been four seasonal ritual performances at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, plus performances throughout the Bay Area related to this project. How have you been able to sustain this development and who has influenced your process?

Dohee Lee: Mago represents my creator goddess and my ancestors. They guide me in my dreams and during research. Anna Halprin [a pioneer in dance healing] encourages me to create my own way as an artist. She always points to my cultural background as a great resource. Her way of thinking and working gives me space to be who I am. Continue reading

Joe’s Pub Teams Up With Creative Capital for a 15th Anniversary Celebration!

Joe’s Pub at The Public joins Creative Capital’s 15th anniversary celebration with a slate of performances by some of New York’s most adventurous and exciting artists—Lisa Kron, Danny Hoch, Kalup Linzy, Jomama Jones & Samora Pinderhughes, and Champagne Jerry. Running November 24-26, the series exemplifies the shared goal of both organizations to support innovative artists making interdisciplinary work. Tickets ($15-20) are now available online.

“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Joe’s Pub on this great series featuring Creative Capital’s performing arts awardees,” said Ruby Lerner, Founding Executive Director, Creative Capital. “All of us at Creative Capital are huge fans of Joe’s Pub, and it’s wonderful to celebrate our shared commitment to supporting adventurous artists over the past 15 years.” Continue reading

Sanford Biggers’ Band Moon Medicin To Perform at Creative Capital Benefit

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We’re so excited that Sanford Bigger’s band, Moon Medicin, will be playing at our 15th Anniversary Benefit next Tuesday, October 21! Sanford is a 2008 Visual Arts awardee, but his work is truly interdisciplinary—encompassing sculpture, installation, performance, and the music he makes with Moon Medicin. To preview their music and videos, check out their amazing website.

To purchase tickets for the Benefit event, click here.

Creative Capital’s 15th Anniversary Benefit: October 21 in NYC!

PURCHASE TICKETS NOW!

Creative Capital 15th Annivesary Benefit

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“Born to Fly” Filmmaker Catherine Gund Interviews Elizabeth Streb

Elizabeth Steb vs. Gravity

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As part of our “Artist to Artist” interview series, filmmaker Catherine Gund spoke with choreographer Elizabeth Streb (2000 Performing Arts) about their new film “Born to Fly,” the human condition and making every breath count. The following is an edited excerpt from their conversation. You can listen online to the full podcast, or subscribe through iTunes.

Catherine Gund: So, I’m Catherine Gund. I just made a movie called Born To Fly: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity, which premieres at Film Forum in New York on September 10. I’m here with the one and only Elizabeth Streb, and the two of us are going to have a conversation about what it was like to make the movie, why we did it, what we think it achieved—or didn’t achieve—and what people might get out of it. But I think we should just start with what maybe you thought, at the very beginning, about the idea of making a movie, having a movie made. What did you imagine it might be? Because I know, no matter what your answer is, it was not what it ended up being.

Elizabeth Streb: Well, for one, I was extremely excited and inspired because I know that you were around STREB and SLAM [Streb’s school and creative center], both with your children and yourself for years and years and years, so it wasn’t someone coming in that I didn’t know from the outside. I felt that you would have the worm’s eye view, the eagle’s eye view, the human eye view straight on, from the bottom up, from the top down. And I completely trusted that however you saw the story of STREB leading up to the London Olympics [where Streb staged public performances on London landmarks], I completely trusted. And I don’t think I, in my mind, fabricated what it would be like, at all.  Continue reading