Rooted in Alaska, Ready for the World

Location Info


Miami-Dade County Auditorium

2901 W. Flagler St.
Miami, FL 33135

Category: Community Venues

Region: Little Havana

Emily Johnson’s hybrid background is reflected in her performance, which will be apparent when she brings the piece Niicugni to Miami this Friday and Saturday, courtesy of Tigertail Productions. At the Miami-Dade County Auditorium’s OnStage Black Box Theater (2901 W. Flagler St., Miami), the Bessie Award winner has combined dance, original composition, and light-and-sound installation for the work that is conceptually based in her Native American and Alaskan roots. That might sound a little esoteric, but Johnson describes her dances as referencing the mundane as much as a higher art craft. She grew up playing basketball and running long distance and then took the Yukon with her when she moved a little farther south to Minneapolis, where she became a choreographer. Her works are physical, asking the audience to engage in the architecture of the space and with the movements that express a history and a place. The word niicugni, in fact, is a native Alaskan Yupik directive meaning “listen up and pay attention.” To accompany the dance, violin and electronic music as well as fish-skin lanterns will set the stage and the ambiance.
Fri., March 22, 8:30 p.m., 2013
My Voice Nation Help

The fish skin lanterns that were the set were wonderful, and the costumes nice. But I had a mixed reaction to the piece itself. The idea was great, the execution problematic. The stories were mostly silly, or puerile, at best. The movement was somewhat interesting, and certainly well-performed. But was this dance or was it dance theater or was it physical theater? The choreography was definitely limited. A man who came on stage, sometimes with a guitar, struck stiff poses and looked ridiculous. A woman, wearing a tee shirt with a picture of herself on it, ran across the stage several times and adding nothing. Near the end, a few dozen people came out of the audience and stood on the stage for a few minutes, obviously prearranged. They seemed to represent those who have come before us and those who will follow. One thing I didn't like at all was that several members of the audience were given boxes with fur on them, from which sounds emerged. This was a distraction for the people that had to hold them and for those immediately around them.

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