2014 Lab Artist: Sarah East Johnson / LAVA
Sarah East Johnson is the founder and artistic director of LAVA. With an ongoing ensemble of six to eight women, Johnson has directed twelve evening-length works since 2000 including Lava Love, Timberline, High Tide, (w)HOLE, we become, Tides, Loving & Daring, encyclopedia, ATLAS, and Volcano Love. She has become known for the unexpected melding of dance, circus and scientific inquiry to create powerful performance works. Johnson has garnered both an Obie and a Bessie Award, demonstrating how her work resonates in both the fields of theater and dance.
Johnson and the company have performed and taught their unique blend of dance, theater, and acrobatics at festivals and theaters throughout the U.S. and beyond, including MASS Moca, Jacob’s Pillow, The Walker Art Center, The Tasmania Circus Festival, Teatro Mandril Buenos Aires, and The Michigan Women’s Music Festival. In 2004, Johnson created the Lava Studio in Brooklyn, NY, where the company trains, rehearses, and shares their unique approach to movement with children and adults through classes.
In the summer of 2014, VPL embarked on the first of a two-part residency with Johnson and her company LAVA to support creation and development of Ancestors, a full-length hybrid circus/dance work made in collaboration with Australian circus director Anni Davey and musician/composer Toshi Reagon. The project deepened Johnson’s ongoing exploration of connections between feminism, science and geology. Johnson’s background in circus enabled VPL to link her with audiences and professional students at Brattleboro’s New England Center for Circus Arts, one of the nation’s leading professional circus training programs.
This VPL residency is made possible with the generous support of VPL’s Creation Fund donors.