Dina Emerson, native of Santa Barbara, CA, lived & worked in NYC from 1988-2000, and moved to the SF bay area in 2002. Since age 16, when she first heard the recordings of Meredith Monk, Robert Ashley and other cross-disciplinary artists, Dina has avidly pursued to integrate the separate media into performances that is are at once installation, concert and theatrical event. Originally trained in theater, Dina began her serious study and exploration of voice after graduating from Bennington College in 1988 and moving to Brooklyn. She subsequently became a fixture in the New Music and Interdisciplinary Performance world of New York, joining the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble in 1990 and remaining a member until the present. With Meredith Monk and others, Dina has toured The US, Europe and Asia and performed at the SF Symphony, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Theatre de l'Odeon in Paris and many other venues.
In addition to Meredith Monk, other artists with whom Dina has worked include Tan Dun (2 world premieres), Gary Lucas, John Kelly, Nam Jun Paik, Ken Butler, David Soldier with Komar & Melamid, Jonathan Segel, Miya Masaoka, Nicholas Brooke, Lance Grabmiller and various New York theater companies including Tiny Mythic Theatre Company, Cucaracha Theatre and The Talking Band.
In 2000, Dina was invited to replace the lead singer temporarily in the acclaimed Cirque du Soleil production, "O," at Bellagio in Las Vegas. This position was extended into a full-time contract when Dina moved to Cirque's other resident Las Vegas show, "Mystere." Dina stayed with Cirque du Soleil until January, 2002 & she continues to return as a sub for them when needed.
Concurrent with her work with other artists, Dina Emerson has created a body of original pieces that spans from 1992-1999 (in 2000, performing with Cirque du Soleil eclipsed the possibility of creating new works for the time being; research and development has again commenced since moving back to California). Venues at which she was presented include PS 122, HERE, The Knitting Factory, Cucaracha Theatre, The Kitchen, and Thread Waxing Space.
Combining voice, text, electronics, physical theater and specifically chosen physical objects/materials, these works defy categorization. They could be monologues with extended vocal techniques and songs, or collages of images, sounds and movement, or an installation that is built as a function of the performance. There has been a definite progression from exploring more electronic techniques (digital delay & looping, for example) to ultimately letting those technical aspects fall away in favor of a much more "handmade" emphasis on the voice itself and the materials that make up the performance/installation.
Timeline for Dina Emerson:
1990 Joined the Meredith Monk Vocal Ensemble
1991 World premiere of "Atlas - An Opera in 3 Parts" by Meredith Monk
1992 Touring & CD recording, "Atlas"
Collaboration begins with Ken Butler, instrument-maker & installation artist
1993 Artist Residency, Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida
Created "Oblivion - NOT," first full-length solo performance, based on
the lives of Dina's 2 grandmothers
Solo appearances throughout New York.
"Three Heavens & Hells," by Meredith Monk (concert tours, CD recording)
1994 World Premiere, Tan Dun's "The Pink," Hong Kong
Collaboration begins with Will Pomerantz, director/choreographer/designer
Creation of solo version of Goethe's "Faust"
"American Archeology," site-specific performance by Meredith Monk
(Roosevelt Island, NYC)
1995 "A Celebration Service," inter-denominational worship event created
by Meredith Monk (US Tour); Solo appearances, concert tours
1996 "Facing North" by Meredith Monk, tour courtesy of Lincoln Center Institute
Collaboration with Tony Boutte; creation of "Eloquent Gestures" chamber
opera, exploring the relationship between D.W. Griffith & Lillian Gish
"Insect & Anxious Objects" opera/installation created with Ken Butler
(The Kitchen, NYC)
World Premiere of "Attractions Etranges," original score by Tan Dun (Paris & NYC)
1997 "The Politics of Quiet," by Meredith Monk (BAM, Festivale d'Avignon)
"Naked Revolution," an opera by David Soldier with Komar & Melamid (The Kitchen)
"The Most Unwanted Music," CD recording & performance, concept by Komar &
Melamid, music by David Soldier, vocal creation by Dina Emerson
"Find my Way Home," John Kelly (US Tour)
1998 "Black Milk Quartet", 4 chamber operas for ensemble, The Talking Band
(LaMama ETC, NY)
To Seoul, Korea for full-time voice & theater teaching position (Korean National University
of the Arts)
1999 KUNST=KAPITAL, Created by Dina Emerson with students from KNUA
Utopia Parkway, developed as solo at KNUA, expanded to 3 performers (HERE, NY)
A Celebration Service, Meredith Monk (East Coast USA Tour)
2000 A Celebration Service, Meredith Monk (St. Mark's Church, NY)
"Black Milk Quartet", return engagement (Ohio Theater, NY)
Cirque du Soleil's "O" & "Mystere" until 2002
2002 "Di Nostra Vita", puppet opera by Randall Wong (Z Space, SF)
SF Bay Area: solo performance, 509 Cultural Center, ACME Observatory
Collaborations & Other Appearances: 26 Mix, JZitt's Voicewave, J Segel MFA Concert
2003 Sound/Shift Oakland, Metal Quan Yin, Abstractions CD/concerts, Heavy Gorilla, "Quarry," opera by Meredith Monk, Spoleto USA, Cirque du Soleil's "Mystere," "Tone Test" by Nick Brooke at American Opera Projects, Miya Masaoka's "As I Was Walking, I Heard a Sound," world premiere: YB Center for the Arts
2004 “Tone Test” performances at Lincoln Center Festival
Chaos Butterfly formation, concerts and CD Recording
Cirque du Soleil's "O" & "Mystere"
2005 Chaos Butterfly European Performances
Deborah Slater Dance Theatre, ODC (composer and performer)
Work-In-Progress:"clear/cut", song cycle and performance installation for voice & glassware
Ongoing collaborations with Merlin Coleman & Thollem McDonas
CDs on which Dina Emerson appears: