Emily Coates

Dancer/writer/performance-maker/filmmaker Emily Coates has performed internationally with New York City Ballet, Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project, Twyla Tharp, and Yvonne Rainer. Highlights of her thirty-year career in dance include performing three duets with Baryshnikov, in works by Erick Hawkins, Mark Morris, and Karole Armitage; principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins—with whom she worked closely in the last six years of his life; Lucinda Childs’ seminal solo Carnation; and the span of Rainer’s work, from 1961 to the present.

Her choreographic work has been commissioned and presented by Baryshnikov Arts Center, Carnegie Hall, Danspace Project (NYT Critics Pick 2017 & 2018), Works & Process at the Guggenheim, University of Chicago, Yale University Art Gallery, Wadsworth Atheneum, Performa (NYT Best Dance of 2019), Quick Center for the Arts, and the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth, among others. She is one of five transmitters of Yvonne Rainer’s Trio A (1966), which she has performed for the past twenty-five years, and reconstructed with Rainer her 1965 dance Parts of Some Sextets for Performa 19. Her collaborators have included Charlie Burnham, Taylor Ho Bynum, Lacina Coulibaly, Sarah Demers, Liz Diamond, Ain Gordon, Derek Lucci, Josiah McElheny, Will Orzo, Emmanuèle Phuon, and Yvonne Rainer.

Awards and fellowships include the School of American Ballet’s Mae L. Wein Award for Outstanding Promise; Baryshnikov Arts Center’s Martha Duffy Memorial Fellowship; Yale’s Poorvu Family Award for Interdisciplinary Teaching; the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant for the Public Understanding of Science, Technology, and Economics, and a National Endowment for the Arts presentation grant. She was a 2016 Fellow at the Center for Ballet and the Arts and a 2019 Dance Research Fellow at the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

With physicist Sarah Demers, she is co-author of Physics and Dance (Yale University Press 2019). Her essays have appeared in TDR, PAJ, Theater, programs and an exhibition catalogue for the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Oxford Handbook for Contemporary Ballet (2021).

She is Professor in the Practice and Director of Dance Studies in Theater, Dance and Performance Studies at Yale University. Since 2006, she founded the development of a dance studies curriculum at Yale, which has grown into a flourishing program of eight full- and part-time faculty and offerings that are widely cross-listed with other departments in the arts, humanities, and science. In 2010, she founded the Yale Dance Lab. She holds a secondary appointment in the Directing Program at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale. She earned her BA in English ‘06 and an MA ‘11 and PhD ‘24 in American Studies at Yale. She has been a member of the arts faculty at Yale since 2006.

Email: emily.coates@yale.edu


Three Satie Spoons, 1961 / 2018

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer.

Rainer’s first solo. Reconstructed in 2005 and subsequently performed throughout the U.S. and Europe, including at MOMA’s exhibition Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done (2018).

A woman poses with her left leg in the air.

Photo by Stephen Sherrill.

The Concept of Dust: Continuous Project—Altered Annually, 2012

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer.

Performed by Pat Catterson, Emily Coates, Patricia Hoffbauer, Emmanuèle Phuon, Keith Sabado, Yvonne Rainer, and David Thomson.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

Heartbeat with the Persuasions, 2009 / 2012

Conceived and composed by Christopher Janney. Choreography by Sara Rudner.

Solo performer in a piece designed by Christopher Janney with choreography by Sara Rudner, featuring an amplified heart monitor. The piece was originally created for Rudner, then staged for Mikhail Baryshnikov. I performed a version with The Persuasions.

Video by Christopher Janney

Photo montage of the creator, singers, and dancer in Heartbeat with the Persuasions

Assisted Living: Do You Have Any Money?, 2012

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer.

Performed by Pat Catterson, Emily Coates, Patricia Hoffbauer, Emmanuèle Phuon, Keith Sabado, and Yvonne Rainer.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

Assisted Living: Good Sports 2, 2011

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer.

Performed by Pat Catterson, Emily Coates, Patricia Hoffbauer, Emmanuèle Phuon, Keith Sabado, Sally Silvers, and Yvonne Rainer.

Four dancers appear in a tableau of different poses.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

Spiraling Down, 2009

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer.

“Sara Bernhardt,” with (left to right) Sally Silvers, Emily Coates, and Pat Catterson.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

RoS Indexical, 2008

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer.

Performed by Pat Catterson, Emily Coates, Patricia Hoffbauer, and Sally Silvers.

Four dancers hold their fists in the air.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

On a dark stage a group of dancers surround a woman.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

One dancer lifts another in the foreground while two others jump in the background.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

AG Indexical, 2006

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer.

The pas de deux, with Emily Coates, Sally Silvers, and Pat Catterson (out of frame).

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

See-Through Knot, 2000

Choreography by John Jasperse.

Ensemble piece created for White Oak Dance Project, 2000. Pictured (from left to right): Michael Lomeka, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Emmauèle Phuon, Emily Coates, and Raquel Aedo.

Pictured in Baryshnikov in Black and White. New York: Bloomsbury, 2002.

MacGuffin or How Meanings Get Lost (revisited), 1999

Choreography by Neil Greenberg.

Restaged for White Oak Dance Project, 1999. Pictured (from left to right): Emmauèle Phuon, Susan Shields, Emily Coates, and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Three women pose in the background while a man dances in the foreground.

Pictured in Baryshnikov in Black and White. New York: Bloomsbury, 2002.

The Last Lap, 1999

Choreography by Karole Armitage.

Duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov, 1999. A new work created by Karole Armitage for White Oak Dance Project, which premiered in New York at the New Victory Theater in August 1999.

Pictured in Baryshnikov in Black and White. New York: Bloomsbury, 2002.

A dancer stands with feet apart and arms outstretched. Another bends forward, balancing on one foot.

Pictured in Baryshnikov in Black and White. New York: Bloomsbury, 2002.

The Argument, 1999

Choreography by Mark Morris.

Duet with Mikhail Baryshnikov, 2000. Mark Morris originally created the piece for six dancers. He later restaged the choreography as a duet.

Newspaper clipping with a photo of a female and male dancer.
A female and male dancer hold hands on a stage.

Photo by Steven Caras.

La Stravaganza, 1996

Choreography by Angelin Preljocaj

A group piece commissioned by New York City Ballet for the Diamond Project. The image depicts the final duet, with Emily Coates and Benjamin Millepied.


New Work: Episodes, Traces, Scattering (working titles), 2024

Created by Emily Coates, developed in collaboration with Ain Gordon (dramaturg & director), Derek Lucci (actor & fellow researcher), Charlie Burnham (musician & composer), and Melvin Chen (concert pianist).

Premiering in 2025

This new project uses George Balanchine’s short-lived yet pivotal history in New England as a point of departure to think about how the body and spirit of dance artists scatter, living on in unexpected places. As a former member of New York City Ballet who has carried that bodily knowledge into the diverging aesthetic experiments of Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, and Yvonne Rainer, and having now lived in New England for a decade, I plan to create a performance that collages the far-flung traces of Balanchine discovered in archival materials drawn from the Wadsworth Atheneum, Houghton Library, and Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, with the living knowledge embodied in the aging bodies of the dancers who worked with him and passed on his style. Stories that surface from the region in the process of research will thread through the performance, with particular attention to New England’s underappreciated contribution to dance, and tracing histories of women and artists of color through the major events of twentieth century ballet history.

She will be joined by core collaborators: Ain Gordon (director and dramaturg), Derek Lucci (actor and founder of Open Sky), Charles Burnham (musician-composer).

The Wadsworth Atheneum joins the Quick Center for the Arts and New England Foundation for the Arts Dance Fund in supporting the work’s development. The
Atheneum residency and program are presented with support from the Joseph and Robert Cornell Memorial Foundation Fund at the Wadsworth Atheneum. In January 2025, Works & Process will provide the project with a LaunchPAD residency at The Church in Sag Harbor, New York, home to George Balanchine’s grave, that culminates in a showcase at the Guggenheim Museum as part of the Works & Process Underground Uptown Dance Festival.

Some Things We Know (Pool Your Knowledge), 2023

Conceived by Emily Coates. Including new works by Emily Coates and Amina Ross.

Some Things We Know (Pool Your Knowledge) was featured in the performance art exhibition Hard Return: Nine Experiments for this Moment, curated by Kate Gilmore and Jonah Westerman at the Neuberger Museum, SUNY Purchase College.

The project interwove a multichannel video installation with the creation of an original live performance that meditated on the trope of the cosmic dance—choreography designed to represent, translate, or otherwise embody celestial movements and processes—across time and geographies. Mixing cultural artifacts and performance lineages, personal and cosmic scales, Coates and her collaborators designed a cosmos for the twenty-first century out of the rubble of the twentieth, with the involvement of movers, musicians, and scientists from the Purchase College community.

The live performance folded in two other original works: Looking, after Shattuck, an installation by Amina Ross, and Invisible Universe, a film directed by Emily Coates.

Some Things We Know
Live performance, mixed media
Conception and choreography: Emily Coates
Direction and dramaturgy: Ain Gordon
Performed by Charles Burnham, Emily Coates, Soomin Kim, Derek Lucci, and Amina Ross, with movers and
musicians from the Purchase College community and cameos by Brent Hayes Edwards (4/8) and Sarah Demers
Music composition: Soomin Kim
Purchase College performers: Holly Belshaw, Avian Chang, Olive Fretts-Howard, Zorell Havercome, Doren
Johnson, Sydney Nocerino, Sophie Ortiz, and Eliot Walla
Blue dress designed by Harriet Jung and Reid Bartelme, with additional costumes drawn from their inventory
Sources for movement and texts include works by Ebenezer Adams Jr., Charlie Burnham, Emily Coates,
Michael Collins, Brent Hayes Edwards, Buckminster Fuller, Emily Greenwood, Soomin Kim, Francis de
Miomandre, Nyota Inyoka, Isamu Noguchi, Ruth Page, and Amina Ross

Looking, after the Shattuck Observatory
Multimedia installation and performance
Materials and duration variable
Amina Ross

Invisible Universe
Multichannel installation (excerpted from 2022 film of the same title)
Directed by Emily Coates
Director of Photography and Editor: John Lucas
Sound Design: Evdoxia Ragkou
Produced by Emily Coates, with Wright Laboratory, Yale University
Featuring (in order of appearance): Francisco D. Lopez, Emily Coates, Annie-B Parson, Richard Prum, Ni’Ja
Whitson, Dave Moore, Rashaun Mitchell, Reina Maruyama, and Silas Riener
Mixed by Quentin Chiappetta at mediaNoise
Artistic consultation: Brent Hayes Edwards, Ain Gordon, Will Orzo
Production support: Francisco D. Lopez, Victoria Misenti, Jeffrey Ashenfelter, Kai-Lan Olson
Installation support: Jacqueline Shikoff, Neuberger Museum
Invisible Universe was created while Emily Coates was artist-in-residence at Wright Laboratory at Yale
University, 2018-2020.

Le Sacre du Printemps, 2023

Choreographed by Emily Coates and Lacina Coulibaly with Maestro William Boughton directing the Yale Symphony Orchestra

The Yale Dance Lab presented a new version of Le Sacre du Printemps in February 2023 in partnership with the Yale Symphony Orchestra and the Yale Schwarzman Center.

The Rite of Spring famously premiered in Paris in 1913 with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky. Both the music and the choreography hit a nerve, as harbingers of modernism at the turn of the 20th century. The music lives on in orchestral repertories, and the concert dance world has seen countless restagings that formally rework the original story to speak to contemporary concerns.

The Yale Dance Lab-Yale Symphony Orchestra production drew on maps and travel images from the Beinecke collection, tracing transnational networks of cultural exchange across time to meditate on planetary crises and care.

The production was co-choreographed by Emily Coates and Lacina Coulibaly, with musical direction by YSO conductor William Boughton.

Lighting design: Tom Delgado (‘09 MFA)
Costume design: Aidan Griffiths (‘23 MFA)

The performances took place on Saturday, February 18, 2023 in Commons at the Yale Schwarzman Center.

The performance was captured in a film directed by seven-time Emmy Award-winning director Habib Azar.

Directed by Habib Azar.

We (Atmospheric Pressures), 2022

A juxtaposition of works by Emmanuèle Phuon and Emily Coates, We is a multi-artist, hybrid performance/lecture utilizing text, video, installation and the body. The work is ultimately about human and artistic struggles to represent and connect with our natural world.

The artists each created an indoor and an outdoor section that are then intertwined.

More info on Emmanuèle Phuon’s sections here.

In Emily Coates’s We (Atmospheric Pressures), dance collides with scientific discovery and the stars, restoring the inherent physicality in human understanding of the universe. Through surprising sources—19th c. weather journals, galactic 1930s choreography, reimagined ancient astronomical rites, an astronaut’s 20th c. space walk—cosmic dances drift across the centuries, bodying forth the cosmos in love and science. Conceived and choreographed by Emily Coates. Directed by Ain Gordon. Performed by Emily Coates, Derek Lucci, and Emmanuèle Phuon with music by Taylor Ho Bynum. Costume design for the blue dress by Harriet Jung and Reid Bartleme. Lighting by Kelly Martin.

a woman kneels and lifts her left arm with a man standing in the background
a woman stands wearing a stretched blue sack of a costume
A man sits on a stool and reads while a woman to his right in a blue costume veils her face
a male and a female seated, a second male appears in the second floor window

Special guests Elizabeth Newton and Devin Walker, Department of Astronomy and Physics at Dartmouth (seated)

a woman dances alone

Photos by Ben DeFlorio

Invisible Universe, 2022

Directed by Emily Coates

Invisible Universe is a feature-length experimental documentary and dance film by Emily Coates that chronicles spontaneous collaborations between leading dance artists and scientists encountering each other for the first time within Wright Laboratory. Part performance, part cinematic essay, the film frames the intimate, sometimes awkward process of dialoguing across differences, staging choreographic investigation inside a physics laboratory tasked with studying unseen phenomena. Featuring paired interactions between acclaimed choreographers Annie-B Parson, Ni’Ja Whitson, Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Reiner, and renowned scientists Richard Prum, David Moore, and Reina Maruyama, with a cameo by research and development technician Frank Lopez, Invisible Universe considers the poetic confrontation between the methods of the dance-maker and the metrics of the scientist. D: Emily Coates, US, 1h20m

Director of Photography and Editor: John Lucas
Sound Designer: Evdoxia Ragkou

Electronic Press Kit

a 4-square grid depicting a laboratory space with two males and a female.
a 64-square grid depicting a laboratory space and three people inside.

Parts of Some Sextets, 1965/2019

Choreography by Yvonne Rainer. Reconstructed for Performa 19 by Yvonne Rainer and Emily Coates.

A full reconstruction and reimagining of Rainer’s 1965 dance Parts of Some Sextets, in which we drew on archival research in the Yvonne Rainer Papers at the Getty Research Institute and Rainer’s own memory of the work. Performed a mere five times in 1965—at the Wadsworth Atheneum and Judson Church—the dance had never been restaged until 2019.

Best Dance of 2019, The New York Times.

Best of 2019, Artforum.

Performed by Rachel Bernsen, Emily Coates, Brittany Engel-Adams, Patrick Gallagher, Shayla Vie-Jenkins, Jon Kinzel, Liz Magic Laser, Nick Mauss, Mary Kate Sheehan, David Thomson, and Timothy Ward.

a group of dancers performing diverse actions

Rehearsal at the Gelsey Kirkland Center for Classical Ballet, fall 2019. Photos by Paula Court.

a woman bends over white papers on the floor while another woman stands behind and watches.

Emily Coates and Yvonne Rainer (Mary-Kate Sheehan, far right), Baryshnikov Arts Center, summer 2019. Photo by Simon Gerard.

Schlemmer Loops, 2019

Choreography by Emily Coates.

An homage and reimagining of Oskar Schlemmer’s Bauhaus dances. With costumes designed by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung, performed by Miguel Anaya, Reid Bartelme, Brittany Engel-Adams, and Megan Wright.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

Photo by Paula Court, courtesy of Performa.

A History of Light, 2018

Created by Emily Coates and Josiah McElheny.

Concept by Emily Coates and Josiah McElheny. Choreography and text by Emily Coates. Performed by Emily Coates, Sarah Demers, and Josiah McElheny. The mirrored sculpture is McElheny’s “Walking Mirror I” (2012), wood, mirror, nylon webbing, metal hardware. Commissioned by Danspace Project, 2018.

a woman sits at a chair on the right while another woman dances inside a rectangular box

Photo by Paula Lobo.

a woman with her leg in the air on a foam mat with a ballerina dancing on a screen behind her

Photo by Paula Lobo.

Incarnations, 2017

Choreography by Emily Coates.

An evening-length meditation on the shift from classical to modern physics through a reworking of Balanchine’s 1928 ballet Apollo.

Emily Coates, Lacina Coulibaly, Jon Kinzel, Iréne Hultman, “The Universe”.

Emily Coates and Sarah Demers, “Apollo Physics-Casting”.

Lacina Coulibaly and Jon Kinzel, “Apollo and Isaac Newton”.

Iréne Hultman, Emily Coates, Sarah Demers, Yvonne Rainer, “Sun Dial”.

The Soldier’s Tale, 2014

Choreography by Emily Coates.

Music by Igor Stravinsky, text by C.F. Ramuz. Music direction by David Shifrin, stage direction and translation by Liz Diamond. Featuring Michael Cerveris, Tom Pecinka, James Cusati-Moyer, and Mariko Parker. Produced by the Yale School of Music and Yale School of Drama, presented at Sprague Hall, Yale University and Carnegie Hall, New York, NY.

Three Views of the Higgs and Dance, 2013

Directed by Emily Coates and Sarah Demers.

Drawing on interviews with physicists whose research is based at CERN, we composed this science-art video to educate the general public about the discovery of the Higgs boson—and in the process, educate the public about dance, too.

a man stands to the right of a large blue cylinder

Photo by Kike Calvo

Empty Is Also, 2009

Sculptural design by Tamar Ettun, choreography by Tamar Ettun and and Emily Coates.

An intermedia, durational performance piece created for the X Initiative gallery, commissioned by Performa 2009. Performed by Emily Coates, Tamar Ettun, and Jane Ira Bloom.

Photo by David Barreda.

Photo by David Barreda.

Ici Ou Ailleurs, 2009

Choreography by Emily Coates and Lacina Coulibaly.

Duet created in studios and sites in New York and Ouagadougou, 2007-2009. Performed in theaters (Baryshnikov Arts Center, St. Mark’s Church/Movement Research Fall Festival, Yale Center for British Art, Brown, Cornell, Harvard), as well as excerpted site specific performances in Grand Central Station and on the High Line, New York, NY.

a woman and a man in a deep lunge lean on each other
a man lifts a woman in the air by her arms
a woman holds a man's hand in the air
a woman leans away from a man as he pulls on her arm
a man leans on a woman in front of a train station

Photos by David Barreda.