Niicugni is a performance installation by Emily Johnson/ Catalyst, the second part of a trilogy of works that began with The Thank-you Bar and continues with SHORE.
"I want to be on the land my ancestors dug into, pulled from, rose up from - and fell into. I want to be on this land, listening, and I also want to let the land be." - Emily Johnson
Niicugni ― the word ― is a directive to pay attention, to listen. Niicugni the dance quietly compels such attentiveness through its layering of multiple dances, live music, stories, and histories. Housed within a light/sound installation of hand-made, functional fish-skin lanterns, Niicugni asks – can we pay attention to the ways we do and do not listen to our bodies, histories, impulses and environments? Equating the molecules of land with the cells that comprise our bodies, Niicugni is also about how land, or place, like our bodies, is a repository of past, present, and future. It holds, at once, myth and truth, magic and evil, hope and death, laughter and monsters, as well as ancestral histories and cultural identities. In the moment of each performance, Niicugni wonders if we can recognize the importance of everyone in the room? Can we see ourselves as part of the whole? Can we absorb that everyone we see is here now and will be gone?
Thank you to the volunteers in Vermont, Alaska, California, Minnesota, and Arizona who made fish skin lanterns. Quyana to Audrey Armstrong who taught me how to sew with fish-skin.
Created by Emily Johnson with James Everest
in collaboration with Aretha Aoki, Heidi Eckwall, Max Wirsting, Bethany Lacktorin
Concept, choreography, writing, and direction by Emily Johnson
Performed by Emily Johnson, Aretha Aoki, James Everest, Lynn Bechtold, and Heidi Eckwall,
Music composition and sound design by James Everest and Bethany Lacktorin; Slow Walk/Sound Boxes composed and arranged by James Everest with Joel Pickard
Lighting design by Heidi Eckwall
Costumes by Angie Vo
Company administration, dramaturgical advice, lantern maps, and prop construction: Max Wirsing
Additional set and prop construction: Jonathan Whitney
Press Representative: Janet Stapleton
Intern: Julia Bither
Fish-skin lanterns created by volunteers in Minneapolis, Vermont, Alaska, and California
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