Baryshnikov Arts Center

Past Performance
Baryshnikov Arts Center + Performance Space 122 Present

Emily Johnson / Catalyst

N.Y. Premiere
Jan 9 - 12, 2013 | Howard Gilman Performance Space

Niicugni—the word—is a directive to pay attention, to listen. Housed within a light/sound installation of handmade fish-skin lanterns, Emily Johnson's Niicugni quietly compels attentiveness, layering multiple dances, live music, stories, and histories into a space occupied by past, present, and future.

Emily Johnson and her company, Catalyst, are co-presented by Performace Space 122 as part of COIL 2013, an annual mid-winter festival of contemporary performance from across the U.S. and around the globe. Niicugni is the second in a trilogy of works drawing from the choreographer's Yup’ik Alaskan heritage. The first work in the series, The Thank-you Bar, which premiered in New York in fall 2011, received a 2012 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance.

Niicugni is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation Fund Project co-commissioned by Performance Space 122 in partnership with Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC), Northrop, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), Tigertail Productions and NPN. For more information:

In the video below, Emily Johnson talks about developing Niicugni, which has been touring the country and bringing with it a unique ritual which engages communities and the land:

Artist Bio
Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson is an artist and writer who makes body-based work. Originally from Alaska, she is currently based in Minneapolis. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment – interacting with a place’s architecture, history, and role in community. She works to blur distinctions between performance and daily life and to create work that reveals and respects multiple perspectives.

Emily received a 2012 Bessie Award for Outstanding Performance for her work, The Thank-you Bar at New York Live Arts. She is a 2012 Headlands Artist in Residence and Alpert/MacDowell Colony recipient, a 2011 Native Arts and Cultures Fellow, a 2012, 2010 and 2009 MAP Fund Grant recipient, and a 2009 McKnight Fellow. Niicugni, the second in a trilogy that began with The Thank-you Bar, tours through 2013 to the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography/Florida State University, Coil Festival/Baryshnikov Arts Center, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Northrop Auditorium/Women of Substance Series, Bunnell St. Gallery in Alaska, RedFern Arts Center/Keene College with Vermont Performance Lab, ASU/Gammage, and TigerTail.

Emily is of Yup’ik descent and is a shareholder in the Calista Native Corporation. Her family is from Bethel and Akiak, Alaska and she was raised on the Kenai Peninsula.

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Photos by Cameron Witig