I taught a dance class at Sterling Correctional Facility last Saturday

I taught a dance class at Sterling Correctional Facility last Saturday

I taught a dance class at Sterling Correctional Facility in Sterling, Colorado last Saturday.

Julie Rada, a theater artist, has developed an acting program for the inmates there, and she invited me along to observe her work and to teach a little bit.

Words are inadequate to describe what took place while I was there.            They -- words -- make the experience smaller than what it was, but I’ll try:

It is breathtaking, also devastating, to witness the imagination in a body that is caught, take shape.

It is gorgeous — also heartbreaking, also hopeful — to see the humanity in each of those caught bodies, reaching for connection. 

In a place meant to strip away anything close to tender, I experienced only warmth, only honesty, only wonder.

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#needmoretime

#needmoretime

it’s been quiet for a long time now.

6, 8, 12, sometimes 14 of us in the studio.

doors open to the air outside.

some are on the floor, others are upright and moving through space.

the delicacy of the body and the bones — the organs and the skin — unfurling.

the swimming into the body and coming back up for air.

the shift in the eyes from opened to closed.

maybe or maybe not shifting the eyes back to open. 

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self-confidence is overrated

self-confidence is overrated

Seriously, you don’t need it, so stop worrying about whether or not you have it.

If you’re engaging in activities that you value as much as you are able, that’s a better way to go then worrying about your level of self-esteem.

Because one day you feel great, right?

Your work, your life, your relationships — all is good. 

And then the very next day, none of it makes sense: your foot’s in your mouth morning ‘till night, and all it is, all day long, is mistake, fail, mistake, fail.

(That was me yesterday: Foot in mouth ALL DAY LONG. Also bumping my head multiple times; also getting a rejection email about a grant I had no doubt in my mind I would get, then didn't; also dropping a big dollop of mayonnaise on the floor; also knocking over the cat food as the cat was eating her lunch; also messing up on my taxes; also putting my glass of water on the counter but somehow missing the counter entirely, and gravity, god damn gravity, taking that glass full of water straight down to the floor, which then shattered, right on top of the mayonnaise).

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get up, off the ground

get up, off the ground

Soon after Trump was elected, I dreamt that I was Dog Dancing, outside, on the street. 

 Slow and low, eyes closed, barely moving, but feeling so much.

 I was surrounded by protesters holding signs, circling and chanting, “Get up, off the ground!”

 I kept at it, my slow moving dance, noticing my breath, aware of my skin against the pavement, and also the sky.

 “Stop moving so slow!” Someone shouted.

 “Stand up!” Somebody said.

 I closed my eyes tight and kept going, my jeans catching along the sidewalk I was dancing on, my feet sensing the earth from inside my sneakers.


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your responses

your responses

Thank you for your fantastic and thoughtful responses in regard to the last newsletter I sent out, talking about art and climate change

Your words moved and held me these last few weeks.

Your reach toward connection -- hugely appreciated and deeply felt.

This is one of many responses that dove into that conversation, and gutted it:

Painting by Laura Marshall: Tales to The Young I: The Bargain.
14" x 16 Oil paint on canvas

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i got yelled at for not making a dance about climate change

i got yelled at for not making a dance about climate change

I was sitting in the theater recently, waiting for a dance performance to begin, when someone I’ve known for awhile sat down next to me.

We exchanged hellos and chit chatted, which was fine, but then something shifted when I mentioned Dog Dance, my excitement of it, this odd little dance I do when I can.

 She turned to face me directly: “Is Dog Dance about climate change?”

“No, why?” I said, in that laughy, light kind of voice I tend to use when something isn’t right, but I’m not sure what.

“You’re wasting your time, and ours, making dances that aren’t directly addressing climate change.”

 “Umm…” (that’s me stammering, still trying to be laughy and light).

photo by Averill Hovey, 2018.

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The Fast Runner.

The Fast Runner.

This dance film I’m working on right now, The Sky Inside, with Julie Rooney at Dancing Camera:

It feels like it’s gonna to be a mash up of The Fast Runner and The Great British Baking Show.

I know, that makes no sense at all, and if you come see the film in April, you'll be utterly confused as to why I'm making that comparison, but here goes anyway:

photo by Averill Hovey 2018.

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the 100th impulse

the 100th impulse

You know this, “First Thought, Best Thought”, right?

It’s what I've built my improvisational research on, for a very long time.

Sensing that first impulse, instinct, and itch, and then followint it, all the way through, without question.

Not so anymore.

Now I follow the 10th or 100th impulse.

Sometimes thousands of impulses fly by, and still, I don’t act.  

photo by Jun Akiyama, 2018.

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Dog Dance at The Denver Art Museum

Dog Dance at The Denver Art Museum

I’m having a little experience lately, of Dog Dance being everywhere:

 

I’m walking with my nephew and he slows way down, falling behind.

 

I turn to look, and see his arms float up into the air, a slow motion reach, out into space.

 

I say curtly, “What are you doing? It’s freezing cold and I’m starving. Keep on walking kiddo.”

 

He says:  “But I’m doing Dog Dance Aunt Jo.”

 

My heart -- of course -- melts, and I feel like a fool.

 

photo by Glen Kalen, 2017

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stop talking

stop talking

A couple of weeks ago I attended one of my all time favorite events in Boulder, hosted by Intercambio, where English Learners from different countries are paired with more fluent English Speakers to have a conversation.


It’s set up like a speed dating thingy, so every 15 minutes there's a cue to switch partners and start a conversation with someone else.  


I’ve done it 3 times now, and each time has been so much fun, but this last time was particularly memorable.

photo by Jun Akiyama, of Kinisis Photography, 2017

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4 Ways to Drop

4 Ways to Drop

"Drop" means to let go of, release, and relinquish.

It means to LET FALL.

In every class I teach, there is a moment when I say “Fall into the dance.”

I used to stay “step into the dance”, but as I became more steeped in my own work, the sensation for me has shifted to fall.  So I have been using the word fall lately. 

But falling can be scary, so if you prefer to go back to "step in" or "move in" or "drop down into", please do.

You choose which works for you

For me, it goes something like this for me:

Painting by Alissa Davies, 2017, that she began working on after class one day.

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