Frenetic. Anxious. Energized. In
Heat and Life
, Minneapolis dancemaker
takes on the highly charged issue of global warming and its implications. Through fiercely intuitive minimalist choreography, she invokes the concerns of a society on the edge, transforming the Soap Factory’s raw gallery spaces into a microcosm of global terrain, complete with simulated weather conditions, emergency workers, and a soundscape of natural and industrial noise composed and performed live by JG Everest. Catalyst, dances by Emily Johnson performs Heat and Life Thursday–Saturday, October 28–30, at 8 pm at No Name Exhibitions @ The Soap Factory, 518 Second Street S.E., Minneapolis. A reception follows each performance. Commissioned by the Walker Art Center with funds from the Jerome Foundation.
Originally from Alaska, Johnson and her company Catalyst are now based in Minneapolis. The company has performed Johnson’s intense, emotional, and richly layered works since 1998 with support from the Jerome Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, and commissions from art centers, universities, and theaters. Johnson is a current Bush Artist Fellow and has traveled extensively, teaching, performing, and rehearsing in a variety of national and international projects. Selected as one of the choreographers for the second season of the Momentum: New Dance Works Series in 2002 (copresented and co-commissioned by the Walker and The Southern Theater), Johnson’s commission by the Walker Art Center for Heat and Life is an outgrowth of that first engagement, made possible with continued support from the Jerome Foundation. “Emily is exactly the type of artist who we felt could take full advantage of the Walker’s first post-Momentum commission,” says Philip Bither, Walker Senior Curator of Performing Arts. “Her work has consistently demonstrated a high level of intelligence, boldness, complexity, and emotional maturity. Each new work she makes feels like a not-to-be-missed creative adventure.”
Examining physical and emotional extremes by magnifying the most pervasive realities of everyday life, Johnson takes a fierce and empathetic look at what we put ourselves through in order to be the very best, how we handle the delicacy and explosiveness of our days, why we fit ourselves into prescribed roles, and how we watch others live their lives more closely than we watch our own.
For the creation of Heat and Life, Johnson and her seven company members, composer Everest, and filmmaker Randy Kramer traveled to Alaska for an intense period of rehearsals, workshops, performances, and site-specific filming. Over the past year, Catalyst has performed work-in-progress excerpts of Heat and Life in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Alaska in a mix of natural and public spaces, including the stunning but treacherous Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park (AK), ocean beaches, and mountain tops. Based on the idea of bringing the outside in, the work challenges its audience to locate an emotional and psychological connection between the ways we choose to live, environments created, and the ways those environments affect contemporary society.
The original soundtrack to Heat and Life by multi-instrumentalist/composer JG Everest is a hybrid of electronic and instrumental sounds, with a year’s worth of on-site recordings, walkie talkie playback, and multiple themes interwoven. Everest’s haunting melodies and dramatic arrangements act as counterpart to Johnson’s emotionally charged movement, a hallmark of their ongoing collaboration since 2002. He has composed a wide range of work for both film and dance, as well as acclaimed recordings with groups Lateduster, Neotropic, Sans Le Systeme, and The Sensational Joint Chiefs.
Friday, October 29
J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director for Minnesotans for an Energy Efficient Economy, joins Johnson in a post-performance discussion; Walker Senior Curator Philip Bither moderates. For more information, please visit www.me3.org.
Tickets for Heat and Life are $15 ($12 Walker members) and are available by phone at the Walker box office, 612.375.7622; or visit www.walkerart.org/tickets/.