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BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS (LOCAL) Minneapolis 2002 - Emily Johnson

There's something to be said for a performer who can put on a pair of pants five sizes too big and dance around to Dolly Parton with a serious look on her face--and, in the process, thoroughly convince us that she has a very bright future. Emily Johnson, of course, doesn't have to explain what she does. She does most everything with such clear intention that we believe--even during the more absurd moments--that she's making perfect sense. Appearing with her company at the Best Feet Forward series in January, Johnson presented a program of considerable maturity for an artist still in her mid-20s. "If I Shut My Eyes, You Can't See Me," set among a forest of hanging lamps, showcased a canny knack for gesture. And "Everywhere Doing This" gave the tenacious Vanessa Voskuil the opportunity to transform a set of repetitive movements and tasks into a punk-rock-cum-minimalist romp. After exploring such dynamic tension, Johnson, a former basketball player in her native Alaska, let down her postmodern guard with "Power Play," a tongue-in-cheek glimpse into team sports. Suddenly boxing gloves, coaches, and bags of lime acquired new significance. "Defense! Defense!" the dancers shouted as they clambered over one another. Johnson, we suspect, won't have to put up such a fight to reach the top of the dance scene.

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