EM PAPINEAU + SOFIA ENGELMAN are life partners, organizers, independent artists, and choreographic collaborators living and working primarily in Lenapehoking // Brooklyn, NY. Our current focuses are structural transparency (in performance and institutions alike), accessibility, queering, relationality, and community care.
Our first collaborative project, Where the air is light and clear, was presented at the National College Dance Festival at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts while we were students at Smith College. Since then, we have held choreographic residencies at The Living Room, Ponderosa (Germany), The Dance Complex, MOtiVE Brooklyn, The Floor on Atlantic, and The School for Contemporary Dance & Thought to develop works in our INSTANT SAVIORS series, as well as our current project, GRIEF CAROUSEL, a collaboration with Albert Mathias.
In addition to presenting our work at these residency spaces, we have performed at festivals including FRESH Festival, EstroGenius Festival, AS220's Providence Movement Festival, Queer Spectra, Post/Future Performance Festival, WestFest, and Dancing Queerly Boston; music/DIY venues such as 10 Forward and Flywheel; and other spaces we love dearly including Movement Research at Judson Church, Green Street Studios, Arts On Site, BAAD!, freeskewl, and Smith College.
Our work has been supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, Foundation for Contemporary Arts, and the Northampton Arts Council.
We are Co-Directors and curators of freeskewl, an experimental platform for pedagogy, performance, conversation, and community.
Read our writing and catch an interview:
Learn more about us individually below...
Image Description: Sofia and Em are seen in movement on a wooden floor with various multicolored balls strewn around them. Sofia is in profile, facing slightly away from the camera. Their knees are bent as they lean forward, resting their hands on their knees. Em is midair, jumping leap-frog style over Sofia, their legs stretched out to the side and arms between their legs as they push off of Sofia’s back. Em is wearing a denim dress that is open in the front, showing their bare legs and white kneepads. Photo by Peter Raper.
Image Description: Sofia is seen in movement with her left leg extended in front of her, as if in the middle of a large step forward. Her right palm is flat against her right thigh. Sofia is wearing maroon pants with a maroon sleevless, knee-length jacket, showing part of their bare chest and stomach underneath. They have blue sneakers with yellow stripes on their feet. Behind them is a tan house with various trees and potted plants. They are standing on gray cement. photo © Em Papineau
SOFIA ENGELMAN is a white, queer, Jewish femme who was born over the toilet to an art therapist/artist mom and (professional) wine buyer dad in Cambridge, MA (land of the Massachusett people). As a 14 year old, my early choreography involved tasks such as eating a tomato like an apple and shaking to Kelis' Milkshake. Influential teachers from my early years include Kirsta Sendziak, Lauren Simpson, Kyle Abraham, Karl Rogers, Heidi Henderson, Shani Collins-Achille, and David Dorfman.
I have presented works, including ongoing Little High Maintenance studies, at venues such as Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, The School for Contemporary Dance and Thought, Denmark Arts Center, The Dance Complex, Green Street Studios, Mobius Artists Group, and Harvard University. I have danced in projects directed by Michael Figueroa, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Angie Hauser, Chantal Zakari, Tyler Rai, and Alice Gosti.
I received a BA with Highest Honors in Dance and an award in Excellence in Dance Studies from Smith College. At Smith, I wrote a thesis—Queering Judson: Re-membering the Early Postmodern Dance Movement—and performed in work by David Dorfman, Angie Hauser, Chris Aiken, Dante Brown, Xan Burley + Alex Springer, Bronwen MacArthur, and Jenna Riegel.
In 2022, I opened my hybrid Pilates Studio: Queer Body Pilates. I am also a dance teaching artist in the NYC public schools via Dancewave, Community-Word Project, and Notes in Motion. Among other part-time administrative positions, I am Communications Manager and Editor at Contact Quarterly.
Em says: Sofia is also a damn good writer.
View Sofia's Little High Maintenance here.
EM PAPINEAU—a white, queer, disabled, Québécois femme—is a dance artist, musician, athlete, and educator. I grew up dancing to music videos by pop stars and memorizing and inventing television ad jingles. My childhood was spent in several households; a farm, a Florida mobile home, empty/abandoned structures, and a Victorian by the ocean.
After moving to Portland, ME (land of the Wabanaki) at age 8, I danced at Casco Bay Movers under the direction of Kate Marchessault and performed in works by Dante Brown, Meredith Lyons, and Allie James through Portland Youth Dance.
My solo, With Pulp, has been presented at Queerly Contemporary Festival at Manhattan's 14th Street Y and Smith College.
I received a BA in Dance and Religion at Smith. Through the Five College Dance Department, I performed in works by David Dorfman, Chris Aiken, Doug Varone, Xan Burley + Alex Springer, Jenna Riegel, and Dante Brown and was a recipient of the Five College Dance Department's Virginia J. Wagner Scholarship.
I teach young people in the New York public schools through Dancewave, The Steffi Nossen School of Dance, and Notes in Motion Outreach Dance Theater. I also perform as a member of ChristinaNoel & The Creature.
Sofia says: Em plays over a dozen instruments!
View Em's With Pulp here!
Image Description: Em is seen from their waist up, facing the camera. They are wearing a red shag sweater with multicolored makeup haphazardly drawn on their face around their mouth and eyes. Em’s mouth is slightly open as they hold red, gold, and pink balloons attached to white string in front of themselves. photo © Sofia Engelman