When Los Angeles native Chris Emile opened his first solo exhibition, AMEND, he had no idea how timely it would soon become. The piece originally debuted in March 2020 at the MAK Center for Art and Architecture before the remainder of the run was postponed by the pandemic. The work explores Black male identity through a combination of live performance and film.
"The piece also deals with the effects of the 1992 riots in Los Angeles, which ironically mimicked the uprising around George Floyd's death," says Emile, 32, who danced with Alonzo King LINES Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet, among other companies, before cofounding No)one. Art House (which offers programming and training opportunities in Los Angeles). He was able to present AMEND both in person and onscreen last September, guiding audiences through the landmark home of modernist architect Rudolph M. Schindler.
He recently spoke to Dance Magazine about how he started No)one. Art House, his dream dance project and what's on his playlist right now.
Photographed by Lee Gumbs for Dance Magazine
How he got his start in dance: "My mom would catch me mimicking Michael Jackson music videos throughout the house. Eventually she took me to see Lula Washington's company in Los Angeles, and it was on after that. She enrolled me in Lula's school, and I immediately began aspiring towards being like the company dancers."
A standout choreographic moment: "Aluna & KAYTRANADA's 'The Recipe' music video from last year. I got to cast, choreograph and really collaborate with the directors."
Dream dancer to work with: "Carmen de Lavallade. She is a force, and I think mature dancers have a depth that is highly undervalued."
Dream project: "I'd love to create a large-scale experiential show with a narrative like Punchdrunk's Sleep No More."
What's on his playlist: "Gabriel Garzón-Montano's last record is a constant."
His (not) coffee order: "Coffee makes me crazy—it's lavender tea all day for me."
His creative process: "I'm very instinctual; I don't like to plan too much. Most times I have a broad outline of what I want to do, but it's all about what comes out in the moment when I'm with my dancers."
On cofounding No)one. Art House: "Three friends that I grew up dancing with had all returned to L.A. around the same time I did. We all felt L.A. was lacking a true contemporary dance community—especially a community that consisted of folks who look like us. We began No)one. Art House on the ideology 'Not the efforts of one,' to try and make what we produced truly about the work and not the CV of the person doing it."
When he's not dancing: "I just got a bike, so I've been trying to ride that as much as possible. Meditation is also key."
The one item he can't live without: "My weighted blanket—it's infused with lavender and knocks me out instantly!"