Emily Coates received the School of American Ballet Mae L. Wein Award for Outstanding Promise in 1992 and joined New York City Ballet that same year. After six years with NYCB, she transitioned into contemporary dance. At the invitation of Mikhail Baryshnikov, she joined White Oak Dance Project (1998 – 2002), and subsequently performed with Twyla Tharp Dance (2001 – 2003), and Yvonne Rainer (2005 – present). Performing career highlights include three duets with Baryshnikov: Mark Morris’ The Argument, in Karole Armitage’s The Last Lap, and Erick Hawkins’ Early Floating, principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins and Twyla Tharp, Lucinda Childs’ canonical solo Carnation, Yvonne Rainer’s 21st century creations, and Christopher Janney’s solo HeartBeat, originally performed by Sara Rudner and later Baryshnikov.
In her own creations, she tries to integrate whenever possible movement research, choreography, and writing. Her research interests include the aesthetics and evolution of postmodern dance and intercultural collaboration, focusing on two distinct areas: contemporary American and African dance collaborations, and interdisciplinary arts and science research.
Between 2005 – 2009 she co-directed MIND (Motion in Dialogue) with Bronwen MacArthur, with whom she created four original dance theater works while in residence at Yale. Other past projects include Empty Is Also, created with Israeli sculptor and Yale School of Art graduate Tamar Ettun and commissioned by Performa 09 to critical praise. Since 2011, she has collaborated with violinist Charlie Burnham on a series of improvisations presented in the Vision Festival and at Jalopy in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and with French horn player and composer Will Orzo, most recently on a performance for the Take Your Time Series in New Haven, CT. She has been a resident artist at the Baryshnikov Arts Center, where she was a Martha Duffy Memorial Fellow, Duo Multicultural Arts Center, and Jacob’s Pillow through its Creative Development Residency.
Her recent projects include a multi-sited research project on intercultural collaboration undertaken with Lacina Coulibaly, an artist based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Their joint-creations include the development of a duet titled Ici Ou Ailleurs, performed in full or excerpted at Cornell, Harvard, Brown, Baryshnikov Arts Center, and in the Movement Research Fall Festival. Their second piece for a group of eight dancers, commissioned and performed by Ballet Memphis and titled Où Que Nous Soyons, premiered in Memphis , TN in February 2011. They are currently working on a third choreographic creation and a book project, developed in collaboration with scholar Brent Hayes Edwards.
In the area of integrated arts and science research, she has collaborated with particle physicist Sarah Demers since 2011, first on a co-taught course at Yale titled The Physics of Dance, and now through co-authoring an interdisciplinary book on physics and dance based on the course, forthcoming from Yale University Press. Their project “Discovering the Higgs” was selected for the Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s Reintegrate initiative in 2012-2013. Their related science-art video “Three Views of the Higgs and Dance” premiered online in December 2013.
Her essays have appeared in Theater, PAJ, Huffington Post, and Transformations. With Joseph Roach, she is co-editor of Theater’s 2010 issue on postglobal dance. Between 2006 and 2012, she served as the artistic director of Professor Roach’s World Performance Project at Yale.
She graduated magna cum laude with a BA in English from Yale ’06 and holds an MA in American Studies from Yale ’11. Currently, she is an assistant professor (adjunct) in Theater Studies and director of dance studies at Yale University, where she has directed the dance curriculum since its inception in 2006.