Our Stories – Toward Being Future Beings

As we look forward to next week’s Seeking Resonance conversation “Toward Being Future Beings” in partnership with Indigo Arts Alliance, we want to take a moment to share with you the genesis of this conversation: a dynamic new work by dancemaker Emily Johnson, “Being Future Being,” which Portland Ovations is co-commissioning.

Originally from Alaska and now living in NYC, Emily is of Yup’ik descent and since 1998 has created a distinguished body of work that unites audiences in a shared experience of movement, place, history, collective action, and the continuance of Indigenous cultural practices and perspectives. A land and water protector and an activist for sovereignty, justice and well-being – Emily is a leading voice nationally and internationally in the imagining, creating and advocating for a more equitable and inclusive space for the sharing and honoring of work by Indigenous artists. She is also a Bessie Award-winning choreographer, Guggenheim and United States Artists Fellow, and recipient of the Doris Duke Artist Award.


Her latest work, “Being Future Being,” delves into the power of creation myths. It seeks to (re)build new visions of the force that brought this world into being by exploring the way that the stories we tell ourselves about how we came to be set the potentials for who we will become. Emily’s gatherings or “social choreographies” invite full body, mind and heart immersion. A performance by and with Emily is not a passive experience. Unlike many artistic endeavors that culminate in performance, “Being Future Being” uses the performative moment as a catalyst to bring communities together to move forward, together.

As a co-commissioner, Ovations has been a champion of “Being Future Being” for several years, has provided vital production funds and is creating ongoing opportunities for us all to engage with Emily and the new work in anticipation of its live presentation. We take this time to also learn more about and honor the work by Maine’s own Indigenous artists.

Join us on this journey of imagining our future by experiencing the creative, intellectual and humanist impulses that propel the work of Emily, her collaborators Drew Michael (Yup’ik and Inupiaq) and Maggie Thompson (Fond du Lac Ojibwe), in conversation with Maine-based artists Jason Brown (Penobscot), Donna Decontie(Penobscot) and Chris Newell (Passamaquoddy).