Emily Coates is the director of dance studies and associate professor in Theater and Performance Studies at Yale University, with a secondary appointment in Directing at the Yale School of Drama. She has directed the dance studies concentration since its inception in 2006. As a dancer, choreographer, and writer, she moves across cultural and disciplinary divides. She has performed internationally with New York City Ballet (1992-98), Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project (1998-2002), Twyla Tharp Dance (2001-2003), and Yvonne Rainer and Group (2005-present), and worked with an array of choreographers, including Jerome Robbins, Angelin Preljocaj, Trisha Brown, Deborah Hay, Mark Morris, John Jasperse, and Sarah Michelson. Career highlights include performing three duets with Baryshnikov, in works by Morris, Karole Armitage, and Erick Hawkins.
Her choreographic work has been commissioned and presented by Danspace Project, Performa, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Works & Process at the Guggenheim, Ballet Memphis, Wadsworth Atheneum, Carnegie Hall, University of Chicago, Yale Repertory Theatre, Yale Art Gallery, and Columbia Ballet Collaborative, among other venues. Recent collaborations include projects with artists and scientists working in different forms and disciplines, including Lacina Coulibaly, Sarah Demers, Young-Kee Kim, Sam Pluta, Will Orzo, and Josiah McElheny. Choreography for theater includes “Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale” (2014 & 2018), dir by Liz Diamond; “The Square Root of Three Sisters” (2016), dir by Dmitry Krymov for the International Festival of Arts and Ideas; and “Max Makes a Million” (2019), adapted and dir by Liz Diamond at the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, GA. Her newest choreographic works are A History of Light (part 1), created with Josiah McElheny, premiered in November 2018 at Danspace Project, and Afterlives, Or A History of Light (part 2), commissioned by the Columbia Ballet Collaborative. She is currently completing a film project titled “Dancing in the Invisible Universe” in collaboration with filmmaker John Lucas and Yale’s Wright Laboratory.
She has taught workshops throughout the world, including serving as a mentor for Engagement Féminin, a project that promotes women choreographers in Burkina Faso and across West Africa, and she is one of five stagers of Rainer’s seminal dance Trio A. She collaborated with Rainer in the fall of 2019 to revive her little-known 1965 dance “Parts of Some Sextets,” commissioned by Performa 2019 to critical acclaim.
Her essays have appeared in PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art, The Huffington Post, Theater, PEAK Journal, programs and an exhibition catalogue for the Paris Opera Ballet, and in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Ballet. She has been a featured speaker for NPR’s Science Friday, Yale’s Quantum Institute, and the Gray Center for Arts and Inquiry, among other forums.
Her awards and distinctions include the School of American Ballet’s Mae L. Wein Award for Outstanding Promise; the Martha Duffy Memorial Fellowship at the Baryshnikov Arts Center; Yale’s Poorvu Family Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching; a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in the category of Public Understanding of Science, Technology, and Economics; a 2016 Fellowship at the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU; and a 2019 Jerome Robbins Dance Division Dance Research Fellowship at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center as a Martha Duffy Memorial Fellow; Jacob’s Pillow/Creative Development Residency; Kaatsbaan Cultural Park for Dance in Tivoli, NY; and Wright Laboratory at Yale University (2018-2020).
She graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English and holds an MA and MPhil in American Studies from Yale. She is currently completing a PhD in American Studies at Yale on touch-points between dance and science titled “Science Dances: Choreographic Knowledge on the Scientific Frontier.” Her first book, Physics and Dance, co-written with her longtime collaborator, particle physicist Sarah Demers, was released in January 2019 by Yale University Press.