World Premiere


Aug 19

Emily Johnson / Catalyst (USA)
Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars

Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars weaves together stories and performance with the exchange of ideas, the sharing of food, and the endurance of spending a night together outside under the stars and sky. Taking place at Randall’s Island Park, beginning at dusk and continuing until after sunrise, Then a Cunning Voice… invites audience members into a multilayered, participatory work that focuses attention on the space we share and on envisioning the future.

Then a Cunning Voice… asks: “What do you want for your well-being? For the well-being of your chosen friends and family? For your neighborhood? For your town, city, reserve, tribal nation, world?”

Throughout the night the audience will be guided through a series of richly crafted events—part ritual, part lyrical adventure—created by Johnson in collaboration with performers Tania Isaac and 12-year-old Georgia Lucas. The performance will begin with an opening ceremony and a group walk that arrives at the shores of the East River and unfolds on 4,000 square feet of quilts. Designed by textile artist Maggie Thompson, each quilt has been hand-made by volunteers at community sewing bees around the U.S. and in Taiwan and Australia over the last three years. The quilts serve as audience seating, performance area, resting area, and “home” for the duration.

The night creates much-needed space for connection between people near and far, between youth and elders, between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, and between urban and rural experiences, with an emphasis on engaged citizenship.

It is celebratory, to come together like this.



Emily Johnson, Artistic Director
Tania Isaac, Performer
Georgia Lucas, Performer
Lenore Doxsee, Lighting Designer
Ain Gordon, Director
Maggie Thompson, Designer/ Textile Artist
Jen Rae, Artist and Food Futurist
Meredith Boggia, Creative Producer, Project and Tour Manager
Matt Evans, Stage manager
Yumi Tamashiro, Managing Director and Special Projects
Janet Stapleton, Press representative
Recorded Sound and Story Contributors: James Everest , Julia Bither, Margot Bassett

The Lenapehoking hosting of Then a Cunning Voice is performed and conjured with: (listed in order of appearance)

Tatyana Tenenbaum (Lead)
Hannah Salzer
Maggie Thompson
Tess Altman
Kelsey Grills
Marya Wethers
Katherine Puntiel

Performers, Storytellers:
Grey McMurray, Balladeer
Lynn Bechtold, Violinist
Muriel Miguel, Storyteller
Joe Baker and Hadrien Coumans, Storytellers and representatives from Lenape Cultural Center
Eric Peterson, Storyteller and historian
Karyn Recollet, Fellow Kinstillatory Activator

Sm Łoodm ’Nüüsm- Mique’l Dangeli

Luz Carime Santa-Coloma

Community Partners
The Lenape Center
Broome St. Academy
Abrons Art Center
Gibney Dance
Ideas City at New Museum
Randall’s Island Park Alliance
Urban Farm on Randall’s Island
New York Live Arts

About the Artist

Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. A Bessie Award winning choreographer and 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Choreography, she is based in Minneapolis and New York City. Originally from Alaska, she is of Yup’ik descent and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment—interacting with a place’s architecture, history, and role in community. Emily is trying to make a world where performance is part of life; where performance is an integral connection to each other, our environment, our stories, our past, present, and future. She receives inspiration from the annual migration of salmon, who swim upstream for thousands of miles because they must. She has watched these salmon swim up waterfalls and she believes humans can also be called to do amazing things. She has been told that she makes dance for “dance-lovers” and she makes dance for “people-who-generally-don’t-like-dance.” She would like to think that this is true; she would like to think that her dances are for every body and that maybe they enlighten small aspects of our existence. Emily received a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and her work is supported by Creative Capital, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Map Fund, a Joyce Award, the McKnight Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and The Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts. Emily is a current Mellon Choreography Fellow at Williams College and was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, 2013 – 2015, an inaugral Fellow at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, a 2012 Headlands Center for the Arts and MacDowell Artist in Residence, a Native Arts and Cultures Fellow (2011), a MANCC Choreographer Fellow (2009/2010/2012/2014/2016), a MAP Fund Grant recipient (2009/2010/2012/2013), and McKnight Fellow (2009, 2012). Her new work, Then Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all night, outdoor performance gathering. It will premiere in 2017 and tour to Williamstown, MA; New York City; San Francisco; Chicago; and Melbourne, Australia.

More about Catalyst Dance

About the Randall’s Island Park Alliance

The Randall’s Island Park Alliance (RIPA), founded in 1992, is a public-private partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation. Celebrating 25 years as the dedicated steward of Randall’s Island Park, the Alliance working with the City and local communities to sustain, maintain, develop, and program the Park to support the well-being of all New Yorkers. The Park offers miles of waterfront pathways, 20 acres of natural areas and wetlands, an urban farm, a track and field stadium, a golf center, a 20-court tennis center and dozens of new playing fields, as well as the Harlem River Event Site.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I pack with me?

Please bring only what you feel comfortable carrying to experience the evening. We remind participants that this event is overnight and outside. We will provide water fountain, welcome tea, 10pm snacks, 2am supper, and breakfast as part of the performance. 84 quilts serve as audience seating, performance area, resting area, and “home” for the duration.
This is a no-waste event. Please bring:
-1 bowl
-1 water bottle or thermos for water and coffee/tea
-1 set utensils
-1 cloth napkin
-We will continue the performance rain or shine, except in the case of severe weather or lightning. We encourage you to bring a rain jacket as well as additional layers – it gets chilly at night!
-Please wear comfortable walking shoes (the evening begins with a 2-mile group walk along the East River)
-Please do NOT bring camping tents or lounge chairs.
There will be a washing station for participants’ dishes.


What time should I arrive? Can the audience leave the show and come back?

By purchasing a ticket to Then A Cunning Voice you are committing to the performance in its entirety. Check-In will be open beginning at 5:30pm Saturday, on Randall’s Island Park, Wards Meadow Hilltop across from the Urban Farm. The show will begin at 6:00pm. We encourage audiences to arrive promptly as the experience moves location, and wouldn’t want you to miss anything. Please come prepared to stay all-night through sunrise.


How do I get to Wards Meadow Hilltop?

The Check-In table will be located at Ward’s Meadow Hilltop directly across from the Urban Farm. Look for a PS122 Sign. If navigating with GPS, please use “Randall’s Island Urban Farm, Wards Meadow Loop, New York, NY 10035″ as your destination. Please be aware that audience is responsible for their transportation to and from the island.  Please visit our Directions tab for walking, biking, car, and public transportation details.

Note: the performance ends at a different location on the northern part of the island.


How long is the event? Will I be able to take breaks and rest?

Check-In begins at 5:30pm with the start of the performance at 6:00pm. The performance concludes after sunrise the following morning. The audience should be prepared to stay awake all night, but rest and self-initiated breaks are welcomed. The audience is not permitted to explore the park beyond the performance site. There are restrooms onsite.


Will there be food and when will it be served?

Yes! Food is part of the performance. It will be offered and shared through a light supper, breakfast, and snacks. Snack baskets will be shared appx 10pm; a light supper will be served appx 2am; and breakfast will be served at 6am. Please plan accordingly – we recommend attendees eat a meal just before arriving (first food break is at 10pm).


What kind of food will be served at supper and breakfast?

The food provided during the performance is made with local and Indigenous food and food knowledge as much as possible. There will be vegetarian options.  Allergy concerns? Please contact:

Can I bring food/drinks into the show?

Yes! For your comfort, you may bring snacks as you see fit to tide yourself over between meals. We encourage you to keep waste to a minimum and please be prepared to share what you bring!


Will I be separated from my stuff?

Most likely, yes. Please leave large valuables and items you cannot carry at home.


Will I be sitting with my friends the whole time?

There will be time to sit with friends and loved ones and time to be with strangers.


Will there be a place to charge my phone?

There will not be charging stations for phones.  We encourage you to NOT use your phone unless for an emergency.


Can I post photos and video during the show on social media?

Video capture of the performance is NOT allowed.

You may take photos of certain parts of the performance gathering. Please note there are elements of the performance you may not take photos of. This will be made clear during the performance.

If you do take photos please be mindful to not use flash and not distract yours or others’ participation. Please use #thenacunningvoice and tag us, @ps122 and @Randallsisland and @emilyjohnsoncatalyst, in your posts!


Is the performance suitable for children?

Yes. The performance is for all ages, but we ask that parents and guardians use their best judgement to decide whether their child will be able to comfortably endure the experience overnight. There will not be a separate area for audiences to sleep during the performance. Child participants must be accompanied by an adult at all times.


Consent to being photographed in stills and film

By purchasing a ticket to this performance, each audience member consents to having their image and/or voice appear in still photography, on video or in audio recordings.



We welcome all to attend. For those who use wheelchairs and individuals with limited mobility please contact our box office to let us know about your access requirements or special requests when you book your ticket:  Please be aware that the performance begins with a 2-mile group walk and seating is on the ground for the duration of the night.


I want to help! How can I do this?

Then A Cunning Voice includes the participation of the audience to foster a communal experience, and there will be opportunity on site for you sign up and pitch in. For more information and to express interest, please contact:


Any more questions? Please send us an email at


Directions to the Island

The Check-In table will be located at Ward’s Meadow Hilltop directly across from the Urban Farm. Look for a PS122 Sign. If navigating with GPS, please use “Randall’s Island Urban Farm, Wards Meadow Loop, New York, NY 10035″ as your destination. Please be aware that audience is responsible for their transportation to and from the island.


From Manhattan: Use the 103rd Street Footbridge

The 103rd Street Footbridge in Manhattan is open to pedestrians and cyclists 24 hours per day, and connects the East River Esplanade/FDR Drive at 103rd Street with the southern end of Randall’s Island Park. There are ramps on both ends.

Once you have arrived on Randall’s Island, take a right onto East River Lane for 0.3 miles. Then take a left at the fork onto Ward’s Meadow Loop and continue on for 0.4 miles until you reach the destination.



The M35 bus runs to the Island from the Northwest corner of 125th Street and Lexington Avenue. Transfer is available from the Lexington Avenue 4, 5 or 6 subway at 125th Street.

Exit the M35 bus at the Main Roadway/Opp Clarke Thomas Bldg stop. It is about a 7 minute walk to the check-in table from there. There will be signs posted.


By Car

All vehicular access is via the RFK Triborough Bridge.  Once on the RFK Triborough Bridge follow signs to Randall’s Island.  If navigating with GPS, please use “Randall’s Island Urban Farm, Wards Meadow Loop, New York, NY 10035″ as your destination. MTA Bridges & Tunnels charge a toll of $8.50 to access the Island, but there is no toll upon exiting.


Because there is very limited parking on the Island, we encourage visitors to walk, bicycle, use a car service, and/or take public transportation.

Additional convenient off-island parking for a fee is also available on the Manhattan side of the 103rd Street Footbridge, at MPG Garage 440 E 102nd Street.



We welcome all to attend. For those who use wheelchairs, who may not be able to sit on the ground, or individuals with limited mobility please contact our box office to let us know about your access requirements or special requests when you book your ticket:  Please be aware that the performance begins with a 2-mile group walk and seating is on the ground for the duration of the night.


Audience FAQ and other Questions:

Please visit our FAQ tab and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our Audience Coordinator Kedian Keohan at

Protocols from Emily Johnson

By attending Then a Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars you acknowledge:

-You are on Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland and you pay respect to Lenape people, land, and ancestors past, present, and future.

-This is an Indigenous led process.

-That you have gathered to spend a night together with friends and strangers on Lenape land, under the sky. In so, you intend to be a good guest on this island (or a good host, or both, appropriately). You can inquire as to what that means if you do not know.

-That your participation is necessary and as a responsible entity you come prepared to care for and be part of the night, the land, the community gathered.

-There is no end to the work we begin here.

Then a Cunning Voice has been made possible with the generous support of Lisa Fox, Nancy Black and our Kickstarter Backers:

Adriana Leshko, Alex Hudson, Alex Reeves, Alexandra Phelps, Alicia Lucas, Allison Kline, Amanda Douge, Amanda Palmer, Andrea Mastrovito, Andy Fowler, Angharad Wynne-Jones, Annabelle, Anneke Hansen, Asia Freeman, Atellani, Ben Pryor, Brandon Stosuy, Brendan Griffiths, Charles Dennis, Carol Devine, Carol Mammono, Chet Kerr, Chris Green, Daniel Sharp, Debbie Clark, Debbie Millman, Eli Scheier, Elisabeth Lazarou, Emily Johnson, Enrico Ciotti, Eric Damon Walter, Fay Simpson, Frank Spelman, Gavender, Gillian Holmes, Giorgio Zanardi, Janet Stapleton, Nancy Black, Helen Warwick, Hrafnhildur Arnardottir, Isabel Kirsch, Isabella Alimonti, Ivan Martinez, James Mendelsohn, James Turnbull, Jamyson Harris, Janet Wong, Jeannine Murray-Roman, Jenny, Jeska Dzwigalski, Jesssica Massart, John Kane, John McGrath, John Scott, Jon Hendricks, Jonah Bokaer, Jordan Harrison, Josh Quillen, Kathleen Chopin, Kathryn Yu, Keith Wasserman, Ken Dale, Kickstarter, Kim, Kimberleigh Costanzo, Kimberly Drew, Kiwi Design, Kristina Wong, Laura, Liliana Dirks-Goodman, Lindsay Barenz, Lisa, Maria Brito, Martin Vitek, Mary Rose Lloyd, Matthew Lutz Kinoy, Melanie Sharp, Michael and Liz, Mio Nakamura, Monika Jouvert, Naomi Black, Nick Smit, Nicole Birmann Bloom, Ninulya Lebedinov, Overdose & The Lady Capri, Paul Puccioni, Paula Bennett, Peggy Gould, Penny, Perfect City, Peter Eckersall, Polly Barnes, Rebecca Grubaugh, Risa Shoup, Rodney Uhler, Ron Vron Claws, Sam Green, Sandra Garner, SK Gaski, Soraya Haas, Suzanne Geiss, Tan Zhuo Quan, Tanya Selvaratnam, Tara, Thomas Kriegsmann, Tim Wilson, TJ, Todd Bishop, Vallejo Gantner, Victoria Rogers, Willa Koerner, Winnie Fung, Yancey Strickler, Yes!

Featured image from Emily Johnson’s “Then A Cunning Voice” residency provided courtesy of MANCC

Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is supported by a National Dance Project Touring Award from the New England Foundation for the Arts, MAP Fund, and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. The world premiere is presented by Performance Space 122 with support from the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Legislature.

Development support for Then a Cunning Voice and a Night We Spend Gazing at Stars was made possible through residencies at Push Festival (Vancouver, BC), Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (Tallahassee, FL), and a Forecast Public Art/RARE Residency (Richfield, MN). Development support for activities at Williams College are supported by the Mellon Foundation.

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