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Emily Coates & Emmanuèle Phuon

We will be performed April 13 & 14, 2023.

At the core of our project is a comparative lens on humankind’s relationship to the natural world, expressed in the stories that run through our pieces: from an American scientist caring for a dying chimpanzee in Uganda, to an astronaut flying solo around the moon, to ancient Egyptian astronomer-priests practicing a “star dance” at their temple altar. Or the narratives of land use and abuse that flicker through the Reamker, crafted into new shadow puppetry for our age of climate destruction, alongside psychically communing with the spirits of trees, in 21st century secular animism that absorbs Cambodian cosmologies. These are global stories, for our interconnected planet. 

We by Emily Coates and Emmanuèle Phuon is a multi-artist, hybrid performance/lecture utilizing text, video, installation and the body to reflect on intersecting themes within classical Cambodian dance, American postmodern dance, ecology, and astronomy, as these are embedded within and reflect geographically specific cultures and ecologies. The work is ultimately about human and artistic struggles to represent our natural world.

After years of dancing together in Mikhail Baryshnikov’s and Yvonne Rainer’s companies, a shared research fellowship at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division/New York Public Library for the Performing Arts brought us back together once more. Our pieces will cohabit in an evening-length event that will connect the theatrical stage to outdoor milieu, linked by our similar aesthetic lineages while offering spaciously different inquiries on our main themes:

From Emily Coates: My new work will collide dance with technologies of scientific discovery, through the creation of “cosmic dances” set in relation to an astronomical observatory and the stars. The work conjures a playful postmodern breakdown of the politics of observation: “are you looking at me?!” Through formal juxtapositions of text and storytelling, I explore dance’s ambition to body forth galactic scales, carrying knowledge of the Earth that science leaves behind.

From Emmanuèle Phuon: Half Cambodian and half French, my artistic path has led me to reflect on issues of identity, memory, and displacement. In this new work, I seek to connect the animism in Cambodian cosmology with contemporary dendrology and environmental science, confronting the rituals of the past in light of today’s new climate crises.

About the Artists

Emily Coates has performed internationally with New York City Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Twyla Tharp, and Yvonne Rainer. Her choreographic work has been commissioned and presented by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Carnegie Hall, Danspace Project, Quick Center for the Arts, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, University of Chicago, Yale Art Gallery, Wadsworth Atheneum, and Performa, among others. Awards and fellowships include the School of American Ballet’s Mae L. Wein Award for Outstanding Promise; Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Martha Duffy Memorial Fellowship; Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant for Public Understanding of Science, Technology, and Economics; a 2016 Fellowship, Center for Ballet and the Arts; and a 2019 Dance Research Fellowship, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. She is a professor in the practice and director of dance in Theater and Performance Studies at Yale University. With physicist Sarah Demers, she is co-author of Physics and Dance (Yale University Press 2018).

Emmanuèle Phuon started her training in Phnom Penh at the Royal Ballet of Cambodia and is a graduate of the Conservatoire National de Danse in Avignon, France. In New York, she performed with the Elisa Monte Dance Company, Martha Clarke, Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project,  and Yvonne Rainer. Ms. Phuon’s choreographic work has been commissioned and presented at Baryshnikov Arts Centre, New Haven’s Festival of Arts and Ideas, Spoleto Dance Festival in Charleston, Guggenheim Works and Process, Singapore Da:ns festival, Danspace Project in New York and has toured Hong Kong, Amsterdam, and New Delhi. She is currently one of six authorized transmitters of Yvonne Rainer’s work and has set work in major exhibitions in France, Japan, China, and Sweden. She is currently on faculty at Montclair State University and New York University.


The Quick is dedicated to serving as a creative incubator – providing space for artists around the world to focus on the creation of new work, while simultaneously connecting those artists with our community through dialogues that allow the artist to gain insight from the audience experience and to provide educational offerings that help our audiences engage about the art form. Through making long-term investments in the creative process, the Quick is helping artists sustain and share their work on a nationally recognized platform. Engage with us as we offer artist showings, work-in-progress showings, meet and greets, and more with these incredible artists before their work is seen on our stages later this season.

Learn more about Emily Coates → Learn more about Emmanuèle Phuon → Watch this video, “Dancing the Poetics of Science” →