100 Creatives 2014: Emily Robison, Choreographer and Filmmaker

Emily Robison
Emily Robison
All photos courtesy of Emily Robison

Age is no indicator of achievement or ability for choreographer and filmmaker Emily Robison. At 17, she's among the youngest artists we've profiled in this series. A dance student at the High School for Performing and Visual Arts, Robison has appeared at the Big Range Dance Festival and was a lead dancer for the Lynn Lane, Catalina Molnari and Toni Leago Valle project ReGifting Lions. Later this month, her film, Repercussions, is being featured at the Third Coast Dance Film Festival. (She's been making dance films for two years now.)

Robison considers herself an artist working in movement (more on that in a bit). As a dancer, she's what many call a "disgusting" dancer. "Out of context, this sounds like an absolutely terrible thing to call someone," she says. "However, what dancers mean by 'disgusting' is that I have an acute ability to articulate my torso and limbs in an unusually fluid manner. I use unconventional and occasionally awkward contours that could be interpreted as 'disgusting.'"

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Dance Film Excerpts from Emily Robison on Vimeo.

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What she does: A dance major at school, Robison nonetheless doesn't call herself a dancer. "I am not a dancer; I am an artist whose medium is movement," she says. She's more comfortable with the terms choreographer (a label she's began using early in high school) and filmmaker.

"In 2012, I made my first experimental dance film, Bruits de Train. It had no [narrative] and was just a study in the unity of music, movement and film. In March 2014, I filmed and performed in Misgivings. [That] film was the catalyst for my interest in dance on film."

Why she likes it: "I can communicate much more effectively through movement and images than I can through words," she says. "I view the world through camera angles, patterns, movement, and music. I notice rhythms in seemingly mundane objects, such as fans, creaking floors and ticking clocks. Throughout the day I create films and dances entirely in my head. I am not eloquent in writing or speaking, but I am, however, a well-expressed dancer."

What inspires her: Robison finds inspiration in the work of a variety of film directors, musicians, choreographers and visual artists. Filmmakers Lars von Trier, Stanley Kubrick and Andrzej Zulawski are among those she cites.

"Music - and sometimes the absence of it - also drives my work. The choice of accompaniment is just as important as the dance itself," she says adding that musicians Demdike Stare, Porter Ricks, Andy Stott and Ben Frost have each inspired her.

"Several choreographers inspire me, such as Noble Motion, zoe | juniper, Batsheva Dance Company and Sharon Eyal & Gai Behar. {And] visual artists such as James Turrell and Anish Kapoor inspire me."

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100 Creatives 2014: Emily Robison, Choreographer and Filmmaker

If not this, then what: "In elementary school, I wanted to be a dancing veterinarian," Robison tells us. (And yes, that's the first time we've gotten that answer.) She later developed interests in civil engineering, interior design and physics as well but never stopped dancing. "Dance has always been on my radar. No matter how far I venture, I always come back to it."

If not here, then where: No other city calls to Robison at this point. Houston, she says, is a great place for artists. The dance community is small; everyone knows everyone. Modern dancers in Houston are all supportive of one another. People here want to see you improve and are there to fully support you along the way. It's really important to have a sense of belonging as an artist, as many of us already feel like outcasts in society."

What's next: The coming year will be busy for Robison. She's working as choreographer and stage manager for an independent opera project. "I'm in foreign territory, but I'm taking the opportunity and running with it! The composer and I are good friends who, I believe, will work beautifully together."

She's already working on her next film, Brutally Honest. It's still in the early stages but will have site-specific elements and implement cinematography in a number of diverse ways.

And there's some traveling on her to-do list. Next March Robison and a group of friends will take a ten-day trip to Berlin, Krakow, Prague, and Budapest. "I have always wanted to visit eastern Europe and more specifically Germany, so I am looking forward to the adventure."

The Third Coast Dance Film Festival is set for 6 p.m. on October 1. Diverseworks, 4102 Fannin. For information, visit diverseworks.org. Free.

The clips seen in the Dance Film Excerpts from Emily Robison video are from assorted projects.

More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). John Cramer, violinist and concertmaster Shipra Mehrotra, Odissi dancer and choreographer Winston Williams, comics artist Octavio Moreno, opera singer Dylan Godwin, actor, storyteller and teacher McKenna Jordan, independent bookstore owner Steven Trimble, mixed media artist Sandria Hu, visual artist and professor of art Robert Gouner AKA Goon73, photographer Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (aka SHER), culture gurus Mark Bradley, photographer James Ferry, comics artist Keith Parsons, author and philosophy professor Alonzo Williams Jr., photographer Rudy Zanzibar Campos, painter Paige Kiliany, director Betirri Bengtson, visual artist Melissa Maygrove, romance novelist Natalie Harris, bridal gown designer Larry McKee, cinematographer Tiffany Heath, filmmaker Jonathan Pidcock, Jewelry Maker Mallory Bechtel, actor, singer, dancer Janine Hughes, visual artist Nyssa Juneau, artist John Merritt, artist Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer

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