Thursday, November 6, 2014

Emily Johnson: A vision board for neighborhoods

Emily Johnson
What a treat to take part in Emily Johnson's Community Visioning workshop at Gibney Dance Center 280 Broadway this afternoon! It was totally fun.

All photos (c)2014, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Born in south central Alaska of Yup'ik descent, Johnson is an internationally acclaimed performer and choreographer on the Minneapolis scene. She won a 2012 Bessie for The Thank-you Bar (Outstanding Production) and made another deep impression last year with the beautiful Niicugni at Baryshnikov Arts Center (read here). Now Johnson is building a New York edition of SHORE--originally presented in June in Minneapolis--for next spring at New York Live Arts. As part of her local research and development process, she offered today's free workshop, an event of Gibney Dance Center's Community Action Hub, inviting participants to think about where we live and work and what parts of our city hold special meaning for us.

Johnson started us out with black-and-white maps of the five boroughs taped to the wall, but they soon came alive with color as we decorated them with stickers (for our place of residence) and doodles (for places that strongly resonate with us).

Later, we brainstormed hundreds of ideas for fostering wellbeing for ourselves, our families, friends, streets and neighborhoods, and we turned the studio's wall into a candy-colored vision board. Choosing a few of these items at random, we gathered in small groups to further brainstorm individual actions that might help manifest those specific desires.

Visions take shape.
all photos (c)2014, Eva Yaa Asantewaa

We had a great, and fairly sizable, bunch of folks, and our collaborative work took off right away with much good-natured laughter. It was wonderful to honor parts of New York that, though I might not have seen them in years, have shaped my life. I loved sharing, with everyone, a city's worth of hopes and dreams.

Learn more about Johnson and her upcoming projects at her Web site:

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