Being Future Being: Land/Celestial by Emily Johnson/Catalyst

Hessel Museum of Art Annandale-on-Hudson, NY

Jul 22, 2023


The Center for Indigenous Studies at Bard College presents Being Future Being: Land/Celestial by Emily Johnson/Catalyst as part of a series of programming developed in partnership with CCS Bard to surround the exhibition Indian Theater: Native Performance, Art, and Self-determination since 1969.

Being Future Being is a multi-scalar work, created by Emily Johnson for the stage and beyond. Featuring a newly commissioned score by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Raven Chacon and a stellar cast of performers, Being Future Being: Land / Celestial invites you into a series of intimate encounters with our more-than-human kin. As audiences journey to three separate outdoor locations, they form a powerful processional—one with the capacity to reshape the way we relate to ourselves, and to the human and more-than-human cohabitants of our worlds.

The performance is approximately 1 hour, followed by a reception, and a performance by Jeffrey Gibson and Arielle Twist.

On Sunday, July 23, 2023: 2:00pm, please join us for Jeffrey Gibson and Emily Johnson in conversation, moderated by Candice Hopkins. This conversation will take place at the Hessel Museum of Art.

For more information on other Being Future Being works and current calls to action, visit

About Emily Johnson / Catalyst:

EMILY JOHNSON / CATALYST formed in 1998 and is guided by the artistic projects of Emily Johnson and her collaborators. Catalyst’s tenet is Land Back. Everything we do is for this purpose. We make dances and performance gatherings, but really, we are re-worlding.

Catalyst does this work with an amazing community of collaborators and we structure our work with the following four branches: Branch of Making, Branch of Action: Speculative Architecture of the Overflow, Branch of Scholarship, and the Branch of Knowledge.

EMILY JOHNSON is an artist who makes body-based work. She is a land and water protector and an organizer for justice, sovereignty and well-being. Emily is a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and United States Artists Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award. She is based in Lenapehoking/NYC and Haudenosaunee lands. Emily is of the Yup’ik Nation, and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as portals and care processions, they engage audienceship within and through space, time, and environment — interacting with a place’s architecture, peoples, history and role in building futures. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral part of our connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present and future.

Her choreography and gatherings have been presented across what is currently called the United States, Canada, and Australia. Her large-scale project, Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all-night outdoor performance gathering taking place amongst 84 community-hand-made quilts. It premiered in Lenapehoking (NYC) in 2017, and was presented in Zhigaagoong (Chicago) in 2019. She choreographed the Santa Fe Opera production of Doctor Atomic, directed by Peter Sellars in 2018. Her new work Being Future Being, premiered on Tongva Land in Los Angeles in 2022.

Emily’s writing has been published and commissioned by The Open Society University Network’s Center for Human Rights and the Arts, ArtsLink Australia, unMagazine, Dance Research Journal (University of Cambridge Press); SFMOMA; Transmotion Journal, University of Kent; Movement Research Journal; Pew Center for Arts and Heritage; and the compilation Imagined Theaters (Routledge), edited by Daniel Sack.

Emily hosts monthly ceremonial fires on Mannahatta in partnership with Abrons Arts Center and Karyn Recollet. She was the Pueblo Opera Cultural Council Diplomat at Santa Fe Opera 2018-2020, and a lead organizer of First Nations Dialogues. She was a co-compiler of the documents, Creating New Futures: Guidelines for Ethics and Equity in the Performing Arts and Notes for Equitable Funding, was a member of Creative Time’s inaugural Think Tank, and serves as a co-lead consortium member for First Nations Performing Arts.

For more information on Catalyst and its Branches, visit

Access information:

Being Future Being is an outdoor performance that will take place on uneven ground, and audiences journey to three nearby locations. The event is movement-based and includes sound. For specific access needs or questions, please contact the Center for Indigenous Studies at [email protected].

To see our full access policy, please visit

Land Acknowledgment:

In the spirit of truth and equity, it is with gratitude and humility that we acknowledge that we gather on the sacred homelands of the Munsee and Muhheaconneok people, who are the original stewards of the land. Today, due to forced removal, the community resides in Northeast Wisconsin and is known as the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. We honor and pay respect to their ancestors past and present, as well as to future generations, and we recognize their continuing presence in their homelands. We understand that our acknowledgment requires those of us who are settlers to recognize our own place in and responsibilities toward addressing inequity, and that this ongoing and challenging work requires that we commit to real engagement with the Munsee and Mohican communities to build an inclusive and equitable space for all.

Financial contributions to Stockbridge Munsee Community Funds are encouraged and can be made here.

Being Future Being: Land / Celestial is presented by the Center for Indigenous Studies at Bard College.

Being Future Being was commissioned by BroadStage at Santa Monica College (CA), and is a National Performance Network (NPN) Creation and Development Fund Project co-commissioned by Bunnell Street Arts Center (AK); New York Live Arts (NY); Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (OR) and NPN, with contributions from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Ford Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional commissioning and development support is provided by Dance/NYC’s Dance Advancement Fund, made possible by The Howard Gilman Foundation and Ford Foundation; Abrons Arts Center; University of Massachusetts Amherst Fine Arts Center; Portland Ovations; Jacob’s Pillow’s Pillow Lab Residency; a Movement Research Residency, funded by the Scherman Foundation’s Katharine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund; and New York Live Arts’ Live Feed Residency with funding from Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Partners for New Performance.

The creation of Being Future Being was made possible in part with support from Native Arts and Cultures Foundation SHIFT: Transformative Change and Indigenous Arts Award, and New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.