daca, driving, and also dancing

Last Thursday night, a few of us from the community had dinner with a few DACA students currently attending The University of Colorado.  

We listened as the students shared stories of how their families came to this country, how old they were when they arrived, what they were studying in school, internships they’d held over the summer, and hopes and fears they had for the future.


Two sisters from Mexico — the older one who is a DACA recipient and the younger one who was born here — spoke about the different paths their future’s hold, not because of dreams, ambitions, and desires, but because of who had been born on what side of the border.


Students from Mongolia, China, and Ecuador spoke about what would happen if DACA was rescinded.


At the end of our time together, we hugged good-bye, with promises to meet again soon and continue the conversation.

I think about how to circle around and hold those most at risk in this country.


There was some story I heard, maybe I even repeated it in this newsletter awhile back, about an army that came into a village at some point in time with their guns drawn, threatening to take all of the men and force them into being soldiers to fight a war that none of them wanted to fight.


The women gathered the men up, placed them in the center of the village and surrounded them, spreading their skirts out wide to create a shield so that the army people couldn’t get to the men that they wanted.


The story goes that the army people were so taken aback by the women, silently challenging anyone to break through this barrier of human bodies, that the army lowered their guns and backed away.


Could this be a true story?


Could something like this have happened?


Can we do this?


Can we gather our people, place them at the center, hold our skirts wide and say NOT ON MY WATCH MISTER.


I hope that something like that can happen…that our country can rise up and demand equal opportunity for all, no matter what side of the border someone is born on.


I took my nephew for our weekly drive yesterday, making our way out to the plains of Colorado.  After about an hour of driving, we took a break to gaze at the giant orange moon.


We spoke about the possibility of our country circling around those that are at current and right-now risk.


We spoke about violence...is it ever necessary?


We spoke about shame, who gets shamed and why, and is it ever okay to shame, on social media or otherwise.


I tried to articulate the systems that shape this country and that led to the current situation we find ourselves in. He had no idea what I was talking about, and neither did I.


We spoke about his own fears about his future, his uncertainty about how to be a grown-up in a world that is both beautiful and cruel.


There are so many things I wish I had said to my nephew last night, as we sat in the car and looked at that brilliant orange moon, hanging over the horizon.

That brilliant orange moon that was so brilliant because of the fires that are burning.

The Free Dance Class  happened yesterday, with another happening tomorrow.

People showed up, exactly as they are, occupied the space in big ways and small;  and with courage and presence, opened up and gave voice to possibility through their dancing bodies.

Maybe I'll see you at the free dance class tomorrow <<First Name>>, and in the midst of all that is unfolding in this world that is both beautiful and cruel, we too can drop down below a surface that is rough and choppy, and swim for awhile -- in a place that is quiet, and wild, and free.

With Warmth, always, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

ps:  Big shout out to Caitlin Rockett for this article that she wrote for the Boulder Weekly last week.  With gratitude to you Caitlin.

what do you love?

That thing is happening to my brain: I walk into the kitchen and I can’t remember why I walked into the kitchen.

I start to give an instruction in class and half way through I can’t remember the instruction I’m giving.

I’m driving and I can’t remember where I’m driving too.

I’ve started saying words wrong, like when my nephew asked me what that body part is called that includes the thigh and the butt:

“That’s called a launch.”

“A launch?”


“Don’t you mean HAUNCH?”

Right right right, HAUNCH.

Twice now, I have left the house half dressed.

That time I wrote you about when I got into the car to go to work with no pants on.

The second time, which happened last month, I left the house without a shirt.

One good thing that has come out of all of this are those times when I’m going about my day and, out of nowhere, a yucky thought moves through, and a heaviness fills me.

The yucky thought might be something like:

“Oh no, I said it wrong, did it wrong, wrote it wrong, am all around wrong.”

But then, half way through the thought, I can’t remember what I’m thinking about that's creating such a heaviness within me, and that’s kinda nice....watching the thought fall apart before it lands.

It’s a little confusing to me, this change of brain, but it's okay too.

With everything that's going on, forgetting, even for an instant, gives me the tiniest room to breath.

And in that breath, I remember what I love and care about, cherish and hold dear.

Kinda like the eclipses on Monday….just for an instant, it was like the whole world took a breath together and remembered.

What do you love? What do you care about and cherish? What do you hold dear?

That’s your dance mission for the week:  Forget so that you can remember.

Share your answers to the above questions here.

And then, share this newsletter with a friend.

Warmth and Fondness, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending (except I wrote remembering instead of upending). www.joannaandtheagitators.com


FREE DANCE CLASSES are coming up, & I'd love to have you join me!

Based in improvisational practice with a bent toward somatic experience, this class is a place for you to explore the potential of your dancing body, in your own way and in your own time, with respect, curiosity, and courage.

All levels of experience are welcomed. On that note: If you feel fearful, timid, or unsure, but are curious enough to try, know that you will be welcomed into this improvisational dance class with open arms.

Tuesday, Sept 5th: 10:15am-12:15pm Thursday, Sept 7th: 10:15am-12:15pm at The Boulder Circus Center 4747 26th Street in Boulder.

Email if you plan to come to one or both of the above free classes so that I can save a spot for you!

“There’s nothing else like it.” -- Liza

Wild Life

I know this is a newsletter about dancing, but there is so much wildlife happening here this summer, I can’t stand it! 1. Hummingbirds in the courtyard. For the past month we have been watching hummingbird parents fly in and out of the nest they built, to sit on their eggs. 

Recently the eggs cracked open and now the parents swoop in every half hour or so to feed the baby birds, whose beaks point straight up into the sky.  The babies open up their beaks and urgently reach when the mother or the father fly in to feed.


The nest the hummingbirds built is stunning:  there are bits of flower petals — yellow and purple — mixed in with the weeds and the grass.


2. Coyotes howling, wild turkey’s fighting, deer feasting, last summer the sighting of a moose (not this summer though, at least not yet), bunnies hopping, bob cats prowling, foxes darting, ravens roosting,


3. AND my most favorite moment of all (I'm soooooo jealous I missed it):


A mountain lion sauntered in front of our house last week, in the middle of the day, bolted up the mountain, jumped on a deer, KILLED THAT DEER, and then ran.

In the middle of the day, right in front of our house!


Glen, who saw it all, said the whole thing happened in seconds.

We looked at the body of the deer through our binoculars until the mountain lion came back that night and dragged her to a more secure location, to feast in private, I guess.


Awhile back, maybe 5 years ago or so, I was taking my morning hike and I came across the body of a deer. It totally freaked me out, and it took me a few seconds to realized what had happened.


I remember thinking, “Murder. There’s been a murder", which of course is a silly way to think about it, but that’s what popped into my head when I saw the body. I stared at that body, covered in sticks and leaves, wondering who was trying to hide the evidence.


For the next week or so, I hiked up there every day, and watched as a part of the deer disappeared until all that was left was a pile of fur.


What this has to do with dancing, I have no idea, except for this: At every wild sighting I see, I exclaim “Ah” and “Oh” and “Hmmm” with a little burst of breath at the end of each exclamation.


And those sounds, as I've mentioned before, also happen in class.


No matter how hard I try to keep quiet, a sound creeps out of me, as surprise and beauty spill into the world.


“When before the beauty of a sunset or a mountain, you pause and exclaim, "Ah," you are participating in divinity.”  — Ancient Hindu Text.


Let’s add dancing in there too.


With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com So many PS’s today, you might want to get your calendar out! 

1. Free Community Dance Classes: Tuesday, September 5th Thursday, September 7th 10:15am-12:15pm at The Boulder Circus Center.

2. Fall Dance Session: The Anatomy of Improvisation Tuesday, September 12th - Thursday, December 14th. 10:15-12:15pm at The Boulder Circus Center.

3. First Friday of the Month Dance Club: Practicing and presenting improvisational performance

Meet at The Boulder Circus Center the First Friday of each month from 5-7pm. October 6th November 3rd December 1st January 5th  February 2nd March 2nd April 6th May 4th Showings on January 5th and May 4th.

4. Dog Dance: Next Performance of Dog Dance is on Friday, August 18th Next Learning to Dog Dance Workshop is on Saturday, August 19th.

If you're interested in participating in any of the above offerings, email me.


The Hum of the Pelvic Floor

We’ve been dancing from the pelvic floor these last few weeks in class.  

At the end of one such class, when the buzz between everyone was especially high, Agness said,  “This strong connection between all of us today…I think it’s being generated from the hum of the pelvic floor.”


We continued to speak about the pelvic floor in more detail, where it’s located and how it’s held in the body.


We spoke about the pelvic bowl, a basket-like structure where the organs, like fruit, sit and hover just above the floor of the pelvis, where there is a hum, isn’t there?

When breath and body are engaged and activated, when the mind is slightly behind it all, and when that deepest part of ourselves is out front and leading, there is a humming.


Can you imagine that hum now?


It changes one's whole orientation to the body in space.


It’s can be confusing to sense the pelvic floor and to imagine that hum.


Try it right now, for a minute or two.


Start by seeing if you can sense where your pelvic floor is in your body.


If you can’t sense it — which is totally fine — imagine that you can.


Let your movement and your stillness start the pelvic floor.


If you're sitting on a chair or standing, this sensing may be linked to what is happening with the bottom of your feet.


Again, if you have no idea what I’m talking about, imagine that you know exactly what I’m talking about, and begin.


Let the pelvic floor be the lead, and notice what’s going on with the bottom of your feet. Feel the hum.

Here's some music, to get you started.


An aside, but also not:


Glen goes to bed later than I do, so when I get into bed every night around 10pm, Glen comes in for a 10 minute cuddle as I’m falling asleep.


Almost every night, just as I’m falling asleep, I remember something I need to do the next day.


As I’m drifting off, I’ll mumble: “Call so and so.” Or  “Email so and so.” Or “Idea for class:…..”


After I’ve fallen asleep, Glen gets up and writes down whatever it is I’ve said.


Every morning I find a note on the kitchen table with that reminder.


The morning after the hum of the pelvic floor had been discussed in class, I found a note on the kitchen table that said:


“The Pelvic…Pillow?”


May the hum of the pelvic floor continue to carry you through, no matter sort of circumstance you find yourself in.


With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending joannaandtheagitators.com

3 PS's today:

1. Share this newsletter with a friend and discuss the hum: What it means, if it's easy to sense and initiate dancing from the hum, and how imagining can sometimes lead to understanding.

2. Dog Dance  PerformanceFriday July 21st7-8pm at Floorspace: 1510 Zamia Ave, #101 * Julie Rothschild, the owner of Floorspace, will host a wine and cheese mingle after the show. * WorkshopSaturday, July 22nd1-4pm at Floorspace: 1510 Zamia Ave, #101 ONLY ONE SPOT LEFT IN THE WORKSHOP...email me if you want that spot!

3. First Friday of the Month Dance Club: Practicing and Presenting Improvisational Performance. Starts October 6th5-7pm at The BCC. If you haven't already, let me know if I should hold a spot for you.


love and fear

In a little dance studio, out in the fields, the last rural outpost within the city limits, down a dirt road, only land, all around, doors and windows thrown open to the prairie and the wind, the sound of meadow larks filling the space, under the radar and far from the mainstream — something is brewing.  

As this country unravels at breakneck speed, we are slowing down.


The dance we are doing in this little studio on the edge of town is unhurried and meandering.  It's a tiny blip in a world that can be mean.


But it’s our blip, and as this country and the current leaders of it, break the codes that keep us standing, we keep dancing, in that unhurried and meandering way.


Valuing stillness as much as movement, and silence as much as sound, this dancing:


Can it keep a world that is falling, or so it seems, aloft and possible?

After I taught class yesterday, I picked my nephew up for our weekly hang-out: a drive in the mountains, talking and listening to music.


He came up with a game that we played for two hours straight.


Mikey’d say a lyric to me from one of his favorite songs, as if we were in a normal conversation.  I would answer back, also as if we were in a normal conversation, but not with any lyric from any song, and he'd respond, with the next lyric from the song.


Our game was funny and dark, poetic and absurd. Mikey laughed loud and long sometimes, and then got quiet, as the language became strange.  We both absorbed the expanse of it as the game wound down and the light started to wane.

I got excited, as I do, about a conference, that I will not go to, but for one whole day, thought I might. This here, is the vision, the question, of what they will be exploring at this conference.  It is why I wanted to go: 'Somatic practices can be understood as reflective processes of undoing existing patterns so that new ones can emerge. How can this transformative undoing be extended beyond the body of the individual to the body politic or the social body?” This question of "a transformative undoing extending beyond the body" is what keeps me up at night, because I cannot abide, as I know you can’t either, what is unfolding and has been unfolding for a very long time, in our country: A system that I don’t fully understand, that hurts people and appears to be growing in size and strength to hurt people more.


And animals.


This system hurts animals.


The planet too.


So I hold onto this, this “undoing of existing patterns so that new ones may emerge…" because if I don’t, I fear that I will never move or find stillness again, and I can’t do that to my nephew who makes up quirky games for us to play as we drive on a summer night with the windows down, wondering aloud about the incongruity of our world.


Your dance mission for the week dear << Test First Name >>,  is to notice when a pattern that you know and understand collapses onto itself and reemerges as something new.


I haven’t slept in days, my mind churning with the decisions being made at the highest level of government, and how those decisions will effect those I know well and those I don't know at all, so if my language is odd, if my grammar is off, if the tenor of my voice is not quite right, this is why. I am, as you are, holding my head above water right now.  Treading my legs hard and fast to stay afloat.


Yours, With warmth and exhaustion, love and fear, movement and stillness, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com PS: Speaking of! If you want to be on the Gather To Talk email list which focuses primarily on resistance, action, and conversation in regards to our current leadership, sign up here.  Our group took a break in May, but we are back. I am hoping the quote about the undoing of existing patterns will be the force from which we move forward.

Between Everything and Nothing

It’s a fine line between everything and nothing, and I am only at the beginning of understanding this. I fall off the line daily -- bumbling along, until I climb back up and try again.

For me, everything is:

  • Bodies moving across the earth while carving into air.
  • Bodies expanding and contracting with other bodies that are also moving across earth, carving into air.
  • Breath:  my own and others'.

That’s the balance I'm trying to find on the little line that I am forever walking. When bodies and breath align, all is possible in this great expanse of space and time.

And nothing is….

Well, nothing is that place I’ve been so many times before.

That place where my body is dancing, sure, but where earth and air go unnoticed.

The other bodies are seen but not sensed, and the breath is not given the attention it deserves.

That line!

That line!

I am forever falling off of that line!

In my doubt and my comparison to the dancing of others, I fall off of the line into a nothing place over and over until I find my balance again and then there, a few feet ahead, is everything --  pulling me into a dance that is my body and my breath.

Pulling me into a dance that is earth and air and other bodies, breathing.

I was at a wedding this past weekend and I tried to explain the line to those seated around me at the chicken dinner.

Polite nods from all, and then the conversation quickly turned to #45 and the state of the world, as it is apt to do these days.

The next day we had brunch at a friend of the family.   The friend took us into her garden and explained to the bunch of us that though her garden was filled with stinging nettles, there was no need to worry:

“Talk to them,” She said, "Like this: Good morning Mrs. Nettle!  Please don’t sting me, for I am a friend.”  She paused, listened and nodded her head. She stepped into the patch of stinging nettles, bare limbed and exposed, brushing up against the green plants that sting and bite.

She came back out a little while later, unscathed and humming.

The rest of us exchanged glances, not daring to try.

Later on, during bagels and lox, I told her about the line.

She said.  “Ooooh, will you come into my garden and show my your dance?”

"Good Morning Mrs. Nettle!"  I yelled to the plants.  "Please don't sting me while I walk this line."

I stepped into the patch of green and danced a dance that is everything and nothing among nettles that sting.

I walked away feeling fine.

Your dance mission for the week is to walk your own line.

Over and over again.

When you fall, climb back up and try again.

Remember:  Breath, body, earth & air = Dancing.

Try dancing to this song.

Let me know how it goes.

Know too that I am falling and climbing, and falling again.

Women and Guns

I am making 2 ginormous assumptions about the 400 or so of you who read this newsletter every week. 1. I assume that each and every one of you respects, cares about, and is kind to women.  True, yes?

2. I assume that you feel the same way about guns that I do.  I have no idea if this is true or not.

I am bringing this up because two things happened on my vacation last week related to these assumptions.

Assumption #1 happened the first day Glen and I were there.

Glen has a friend who lives in the area of Colorado we were visiting.

We ended up hiking with him, as well as one of his friends, who was visiting too.

I felt it the minute I met him  --  this friend of a friend who was visiting too.

When friend of a friend dictated the outcome of our breakfast destination, I felt it.

When friend of a friend placed himself at the head of our hiking pack, taking up too much space for anyone to pass by, I felt it.

When friend of a friend launched into an on-going monologue, with no curiosity about anyone else, I felt it.

I brought it up to Glen when we had a moment on the trail to ourselves:  “Does it feel a little odd to you that friend of a friend is monopolizing our space and time?”

“He seems like a nice guy to me.  I wouldn’t worry about it.”

I tried hard to radically accept the disappointing situation I found myself in with friend of a friend.

On the way home from our hike, friend of a friend said something so old school and disparaging of women, that I cannot repeat it here.

My normal response in those types of situations is to freeze.

To clam up and say nothing.

I didn't have that response this time around though, and instead I said something along the lines of:

“Not okay to say.  We are talking about humanity here.  It appears that in your world, half of humanity is not welcome.”

He got defensive and we stumbled our way to an ungraceful conclusion that left the air in the car THICK.

When we dropped the two others off, I looked at Glen without saying a a word.

He looked at me and he said:

“You’re right.  He’s a schmuck.”

We discussed how to move forward with the rest of our vacation that would unfortunately be spent with friend of a friend.

We didn’t have to worry though, because friend of a friend had a bit of a "Come to Jesus Moment."

Though he never directly apologized for his sexist remark and space grabbing ways, he turned into a huge puppy dog who spent the rest of the week being overly considerate toward everyone, and making too many comments about how much he loved and respected women.

My assumption regarding incident #1 is correct I think:  You get it, right?

You’ve been through it before in your own way, with your own thick air in the car.

But assumption # 2…the gun thing.

That one might be a bit more prickly, but here goes:

Glen’s friend that we were hanging out with loves guns.

He has a conceal carry permit so he carries a gun with him almost all of the time.

We immediately began discussing guns after learning about this, and the conversation was civil, though bewildering.

Glen's friend is totally prepared to use a gun to protect himself and his family, if he needs to, and to kill someone if he is threatened.

That blew my mind.

Has my woolly world view and the the bubble I live in become even more woolly than I ever could have imagined?

Like Glen, this friend is a hippie/mountain living/woodworking/off-the-grid kind of guy, and the word GUN just doesn't fit into that description, at least for me.

We went back and forth about guns, both holding our views close, but doing so kindly.

Finally I said:  “Let’s go shoot some guns.  Let me get a sense of what this whole thing is about.”

I got a lengthy lecture on gun safety, which was good, and I have no complaints.

I also got an even more lengthy lecture on the mechanics of a gun, and that one -- though I appreciated it -- put me off in a way I didn’t expect.

This was a machine that was made to kill people.

I pointed the gun at the target and pulled the trigger, 3 times, and that was all I could abide by.

I could not continue to handle a piece of machinery that was made -- with incredible care, innovation, and finesse -- to kill people.

I sat in the car as everyone else took their turn shooting bullets into the target, and again tried to radically accept a situation that seemed unacceptable to me.

On our last night there, the topic of guns came up again.

Though the conversation ended up going okay, as it did before, and though we all hugged good-bye and said “come visit anytime” something felt a little off because I don't know how to truly understand and appreciate something that is so foreign to me.

I do want to make my way out of my woolly bubble -- I really do -- but it sure does make more sense in here than out there.

There are varying views on the subject of guns, of course, and I imagine I will be told about ways of looking at this issue in ways I have never thought of or considered, which I welcome.

Maybe I will hear something similar to this:

Awhile back I took a self-defense class for women.  There was a woman in the class with a young child who was being stalked and terrorized by an ex-husband. She was doing everything she could to keep herself and her child safe:  Taking the self-defense class, installing new locks on the doors and windows, investing in a state-of-the-art alarm system, and yes, carrying a gun with her everywhere she went. She even kept an extra gun under her pillow.

Would I do the same thing in her situation?

You know what, I bet I would.

So tell me what you think and how you feel about all of this here, and then move on to your dance mission for the week.

Let the dust settle, and allow a different part of your brain take over:

Imagine that you are a fish in the ocean and for the first time in your fish life you realize that you are swimming in WATER and that not everyone swims in water. Base your dance on this idea, and feel the substance that is encasing your body, that you are dwelling in every single moment of every single day and dance, knowing that not everyone swims in the same ocean.

With Warmth, Curiosity, And A Deep Dive Into Dancing, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

what if you danced more?

Like, everyday?10 minutes, right after you wake up perhaps. Roll out of bed, find your way to the floor. Notice your breath, see what arises and follow the thread, first thing in the morning. Two students of mine have been doing this for awhile now. They made a pact with each other — a simple nod when they see each other in class -- "I'm dancing every morning...you?" What’s happened is that they are able to “drop-in” more quickly, with more depth, and for longer periods of time.

The work I am embarking on in class, and in my performance work...it's elusive. It’s easy to wonder what the f**ck is going on when attention is not being paid to breath and sensation...when trust has not been formed in connection to oneself. It’s a slippery slope, and it’s easy to fall off if awareness to the moment is not being held with respect. So try dancing more to understand and trust that slope more fully. 10 minutes every morning. Ask a friend to join you. Give a simple nod indicating yes, I danced a little more this week. Sure, take the weekends off, that’s a good idea. And then start again on Monday. See what happens when you give yourself permission to dance every single day. Let me know how it goes by telling me about it here.

The poem below is from a writing exercise we did in class one Friday.

It's by Helen Turner, who dances, every single day:

What is this place, these 3 hours on a Friday morning?

Is this dance?

When is this dance?

When does this become dance?

Does this become dance?

My thoughts are pushing into my bones, through my muscles. They want to be included. Usually I wait for you to quieten down, fade into the sound scape, hangout with the train and the meadowlark, the sound of children’s voices.

I bake in the sun, half in and half out of the French doors. Skin and sun, the hairs on my skin, thinking, the sun on my eyelids making my mouth tilt upwards, thinking.

Let us make a space for everything.

An empty internal canvas dotted with the color of words, a stroke of magenta, now orange.

From the bones the thoughts move, tasting each bone. Is there greeting? There is greeting.

I want to kneel on just the one knee, like she does. My arms come together over the knee and suddenly I am here, right here, right now, and Jo says “5 more minutes”, and I think “Oh dear, I just arrived”. But then I think, “that’s what we have”, and I’m in the dance, a bit wobbly but staying with it and I’m here and gone and then there is another 5 minutes. So here we all are. It is enough.

And then, I find the birds and I know now why I showed up this morning.

With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com



The summer session starts on Tuesday, June 6th and runs through Thursday, August 31st...will I see you there?

“I was deciding between seeing the Dali Lama and coming to class today…I choose class.” – Simone.  “Me too!!” — Suzzy.  

"I feel free."  -- Linda Stonerock, Current Student of 13 years

"I can find someone else’s breath in the room when I cannot locate my own.” — Helen Turner, current student of 12 years

"I walk in the world differently because of this class." -- Nancy Ruff, Current Student of 4 months

"I am going to do this for the rest of my life.” — Liza Patrick, Current student of three years

Click here for more info about the summer dance session.

2. DOG DANCE, Performance and Workshop:

Performance:  This Friday, May 19th, 7pm at Floorspace, $10.

Workshop:   This Saturday, May 20th, 1-4pm, Boulder Circus Center $69 (includes ticket to performance on Friday night).  There is only one spot left in this workshop. Let me know ASAP if you are interested in attending.

“Joanna creates earthquakes.  She re-aligns the universe.”    — Julie Rothschild, Owner of Julie Rothschild Movement

“The generosity of Dog Dance is invaluable."  Audience member at February's performance 

"Stunning. Just Stunning."  -- Freddi Acora, Audience member at Current Student.

“Thank you for holding the space in which I could unfold…safely, quietly, loudly, in my own time.” –– Margaret Harris, student for 11 years before moving to Jackson Hole, Wyoming!

"(The workshop) was wonderful. I couldn't say why... because it is just too potent for me. I'm not sure I have words for it still, but they are coming....been dog dancing every day since... so rich." -- Abi Averitt, participant in Learning Dog Dance and Audience Member

“I was SO craving class after your STUNNING performance of Dog Dance last night” — Simone Key, current student of five years, participant in Learning Dog Dance, and audience member.

"Wonder. I've been thinking about wonder."  -- Helen Turner, student and repeat audience member at Dog Dance.

Click here for more info about Dog Dance.


Looking for Legs

My mom started taking a cocktail of medications for nerve pain in her lower back a few months ago. Because of the mix of meds she's on, she's hallucinating now and then.

She’s clear and bright eyed when she re-counts her latest sighting:

~ Looking out her window -- where big machines are moving around all day building new houses as fast as they can -- she sees a field of wild horses, running.

~ An old friend appears at the foot of her bed one morning, and they talk for hours about their lives, revealing secrets to each other that have never been spoken before.

~ She says I was there one night, and that I turned myself inside out.

~ She tells my nephew about the person living in the ceiling…she can’t recall much about him, except that his name starts with a T.

~ She says to me and my sister the other day:  “The hallucination I had last night was so funny!”  She turns to me, and says, as an aside:  “Oh, and your mother was there.”~ She re-counts a hallucination where she looked everywhere for the legs.

~ Friends from work, junior high, and college, visit regularly.

~ Family members, dead and alive, come over for a picnic.

~ Pets form our childhood return, and she sets out a bowl of water for them.

I taught a dance workshop for the Leadership Fellows at The Boulder Chamber of Commerce a few weeks ago.  At the end of our time together, one of the women said:

“The negative space…that’s where all the potential is, isn't it?  That’s where possibility thrives.”

My mother’s hallucinations  =  possibility in the in-between.

And Merce Cunningham said:

"Light or luminosity is created by the way elements are juxtaposed. They become reflective and a radiance comes from putting different things together."

Juxtaposing images and memories, my mother talks to the ghosts, and she is radiant.

Your dance mission for the week is to notice your breath, right now and throughout the day, to feel the floor beneath your feet, right now and throughout the day, while looking for the legs.

Find your own legs, right now.  Feel them, sense them, breath into the bones of them.

Step away from your computer for 3 minutes, and dance, letting your legs lead the way.

With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com



The summer session starts on Tuesday, June 6th and runs through Thursday, August 31st...will I see you there?

"I feel free."  -- Linda Stonerock, Current Student of 13 years

"I walk in the world differently because of this class." -- Nancy Ruff, Current Student of 4 months

“It’s always awesome, but today was extra awesome.” — Lucy Braham, Current Student of two years

"I love what you said yesterday about not taking it for granted, this incredible richness of dancing on a Tuesday morning.  I'm counting my blessings right now and dancing with you twice a week is way way way up there in my cup." -- Aileen Hayden, Current Student 3 years

Click here for more info.

2. DOG DANCE, Performance and Workshop:

Performance:  Friday, May 19th, 7pm at Floorspace, $10.

Workshop:  Saturday, May 20th, 1-4pm, Boulder Circus Center $69 (includes ticket to performance on Friday night).  There is limited space in this workshop. so if you are interested in attending, let me know ASAP so I can hold a spot for you.

“The generosity of Dog Dance is invaluable."  Audience member at February's performance 

"Stunning. Just Stunning."  -- Freddi Acora, Audience member at Current Student.

"(The workshop) was wonderful. I couldn't say why... because it is just too potent for me. I'm not sure I have words for it still, but they are coming....been dog dancing every day since... so rich." -- Abi Averitt, participant in Learning Dog Dance and Audience Member

“I was SO craving class after your STUNNING performance of Dog Dance last night” — Simone Key, current student of five years, participant in Learning Dog Dance, and audience member.

Click here for more info.


i'm nervous that i'm not sweating

I know that’s weird, but it's true.


I thought dancing was about sweating and breathing hard:  hands on knees after a long and complicated sequence of movements, or a melt to the ground to rest and recuperate after spinning and leaping, catching and falling.


That’s what I've known and loved for many many moons, and yet it isn’t what I'm following these days.


Even if I try to make that happen, I can’t seem to find it right now.


Even when I’m pulled into a current of sweat and breath and balance, I step out at some point to follow my weight instead, bringing myself back down and into gravity.




I thought I was one way, and now I’m another.


I thought I understood, and now I don’t.


I thought I inhabited this human form with a set of rules and expectations when it came to dancing and yet...this isn't so.


I can’t seem to settle and rest, until I do.


And when I do -- rest -- I become curious about the body in space, carving through earth and air, as others also carve, draw, push through, and emerge.


I’m a mistake maker.


I make mistakes multiple times throughout each day:  small ones that nobody notices but me, bigger ones that get a side glance from time to time, and then the gigantic ones, where I have to clean up the mess I’ve made.


Is this one of those mistakes?


Have I made a mistake by turning my attention to the interior when I dance?


Have I made a mistake by opting out -- at least for now -- on the bigger, grander, more understandable way of dancing?


Have I made a mistake by not working harder, longer, faster?


Sometimes my mind does that thing where it wraps around itself.

When that happens, I can’t find the quiet of what I know.


I search and grab and search and grab, and then the dancing is flat and mundane, no matter how big, or how fast, or how strong.


But when I come up and out for air, I can feel it:   The outside is the same as the inside when the inside is given the time to slow down.


Then it doesn’t matter if it is a spin or a fall, a roll or a jump, a balance on one leg, or a crumple to the ground.


It’s all coming from the same place:  the body as animal -- sniffing around, scratching at the earth, digging a hole, running through the woods, being still, and burrowing in.

Your dance mission for the week is to do just that:

Sniff Scratch Dig Run Be still And burrow in.


Dog Dance is happening this Friday Joanna. There’s a workshop called “Learning Dog Dance” the very next day. Let me know if you are interested in joining me for one or either of these weekend events, and I’ll send you all the info.


With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

Dancing and Aging

“To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.”— Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette


Immediately after reading this,  I received an email from Johannah discussing her experience in class this past Friday.


Johannah has been taking class with me since I started teaching in 2003, and the Friday class has been a struggle for her at times:   I don’t always use music, there is very little instruction, and sometimes there is a minimal amount of big muscle movement  (i.e.. leaping, jumping, locomoting, spinning, swooping).


A question that continually comes up for Johannah about this particular class is, “Is this really dance?”

Johannah has been dancing since she was little, studying and teaching modern dance, so the work we are doing is disconcerting sometimes -- I get that, and I ask the same thing myself now and again.


What I love about her question -- “Is this really dancing?” -- is that at 84, Johannah is still asking questions, still wondering about it all, and still curious.


Anyway…her email:


I emailed first and said something like, “How did it feel to dance with no music and little instruction?”


She replied:



The bottom line is it was fine!  great even!  The longer narrative is something has happened that I am almost afraid to name.  It is like I am exploring my body from a new place.  I am interested and curious about what it can/ is willing/ is able/ wants to do.  Even Andrea said something about deconstruction and rebuilding.  The angst is gone; the conflict over “is this dance” is gone, the self consciousness seems to be largely gone.  I could even see how the music can get in the way.  I did love this Friday:  Sometimes listening/being aware of the outside sounds; the birds, the truck going by, the airplane not dropping bombs on us. Sensing the bodies around me.  And I still enjoy music, and hope there will sometimes be some. but this Friday I did not miss it.   It is like, oh my, what was all the angst and fuss about?   It is like meeting someone new and tiptoeing a bit to make sure the relationship is on sound footing…..so I haven’t said it “out loud” or tried to name it.  Right now it is enough to enjoy the exploration and be so grateful I am not railing against new restrictions.  They are more than compensated for by the pleasure of the exploration,,,,,Will wonders never cease?

Much love, J.”


This state that Johannah is describing will change and bump into itself.


You know that, and I know that.

That's why there's a little bit of fear I think, about naming it.


But the possibility of entering in, as Johannah did on Friday — it’s there now, and always will be, even if it's a long time before it happens again. She held it and then let it go.


Placed it in the palm of her hand and blew it away.


Named and saw herself within this circle that is us — human beings inhabiting a body, inhabiting an earth.


That’s it that’s it that’s it.


I think of Johannah — her wonder and delight at 84.

In the midst of all the clamor and expectation of living, thinking of her makes me want to turn off the computer and dance. You in?

Oh good.

Let's turn off the computer -- right now -- for 10 minutes, lie down on the floor and notice what we hear, sense, and perceive.

Let's let ourselves fall into whatever dance is waiting to take us, and then float us, down the river.

10 minutes...only 10 minutes and then you can turn your computer back on.

Let me know how it goes.


With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

What Happens When You Dance?

What happens when you dance ?When you are in motion, what do you feel, sense, perceive?


What about stillness?


What about the in-between?


Just yesterday I was dancing with my class and a new pattern emerged.


I felt the thrill of new and old laying ground.


As I sat on the sidelines later on to watch, long moments of fullness and ease moved in, and stayed for awhile.


I felt, sensed, and percieved awe.

When you dance…do you feel stirred?




How so?


What is happening with the systems that are inside of you, and also, outside of you?


Do you ever wonder why we all are not dancing, every single day, for most of the day?

Or is that just me — because I wonder about that a lot.


I know that dancing isn’t for everyone.


We all follow our own path and one path doesn’t fit all.


I know.


But sometimes, I wish, that just once, we all could take a day off -- together -- to notice what parts of the body are in contact with the earth...to hone in on the detail of that.

To move into and engage in a dance that is waiting -- patiently -- for all of us to step into and be swept away by the thrill and awe of dancing.


Floating, burrowing, excavating, carving, resting, and flying in shape, form, time, and energy.


Ah dancing…you are on my mind these days!  

How about a dance mission since we haven’t done one of those in ages.


Back to basics perhaps?


Find a comfortable place to be — lying down, sitting or standing.


Notice your breath.


Notice your body against the earth.

Notice your body carving into the air that is surrounding you.


On your exhale, see what movement emerges.


On your inhale, find stillness.


Do this over and over again:  Move on the exhale and find stillness on they inhale until one bleeds into the other as your movement and your stillness find their way to the surface.

And the dance?

It's already happening.

Trisha, Angela, and Helen

Getting ready for Dog Dance after hearing Dr. Angela Davis speak this weekend about undoing structures and re-thinking assimilation.

Getting ready for Dog Dance after hearing the incredible Judge Helen Whitener speak about understanding the codes -- the rules of conduct -- and advocating from within.


The opposite of what Dr. Davis was speaking of perhaps?


Not sure, though the back and forth between these two women had me sitting at the edge of my seat.


Getting ready for Dog Dance after a weekend spent in Florida listening, learning, and struggling to understand the systems that have shaped a world that is not fair or just.


Getting ready for Dog Dance and wondering about the fate of the NEA, the EPA, PBS, NPR and all of the things that I care about and participate in. Getting ready for Dog Dance and paying attention as best I can, so as not to miss any steps.


Getting ready for Dog Dance and feeling lost sometimes, found at others.


Getting ready for Dog Dance and reading about Trisha.


I wonder what she would have said on that panel with Dr. Angela Davis and Judge Helen Whitener. Would she have steered the conversation in an entirely new direction that we can't begin to imagine, or would she simply have started to dance?


Warmth, Love, and Wonder, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannandtheagitators.com


i've been thinking about you

I wonder how you are choosing to walk through the world after reading the news or not reading the news.I wonder how you are doing, hearing the first 12 minutes of this, as you hang the laundry.

I wonder and hope that you are going to dance class — because you must continue to go to dance class — even as you hear these first 12 minutes, and want to run, screaming into the streets.

Do run — screaming into the streets — but also:

Go to dance class.

We cannot let him take that away from us.

I wonder how you are moving in the world right now, in this moment in history.

I wonder where, and how, you are finding stillness.

I wonder if you are spinning.

I wonder if you are spiraling.

I wonder if you are sensing your weight — in space — as it shifts and drops, and then rises. It is difficult

to get the news from poems

Yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there

~ William Carlos Williams Katharine sent this me when I said "I don’t have time for poems right now."

I decided, then and there, to make time for poems. I've been thinking about you. I wonder how you've been doing. xo Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

Super Dog Dance

I’m getting ready for Dog Dance. This performance happens on Friday, January 20th, at 7pm at Floorspace, 1510 Zamia Ave, #101 in Boulder.


Dog Dance ends at 8pm that night, so my plan is to head over to the People’s Inaugural Ball at The Boulder Theater right after.


I was practicing for this upcoming performance of Dog Dance in the living room yesterday.


Glen walked in from the shop, saw me lying on the floor, one arm reaching this way, the other arm reaching that way, legs in weird angels, hips up in the air, face smushed into the floor, fast asleep.


He whispered, “This must be the SUPER DOG that is dancing.”


That woke me up. I laughed and laughed.


So see you this Friday, for the Super Dog that is dancing, and then onto the People’s Inaugural Ball, where we will dance our way through this incoming presidential administration, while simultaneously continuing to do the hard and necessary work of creating uplift and possibility for us all.


With Warmth and Vibes — Jivey or otherwise, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

are you awake?

I am. The wind is blowing the house down.

So I’m up,

I’m giddy and unable to sleep because something woke up in me last Wednesday — right after I sent you that last newsletter.

That something has been groggily waking up for a long time now, but last week it got me sitting up straight, eyes wide open.

This thing I asked us to imagine?

It’s taking shape, in a way I couldn’t have imagined, and it’s moving fast.

I promised myself that this newsletter would be dedicated to what it’s always been dedicated to:

  • Dancing.
  • Creativity.
  • Imagination.
  • Our beautiful world.


I promised myself the new newsletter, the one I am sending out on Mondays, that it would be dedicated to:

  • Taking action.
  • Organizing.
  • Mobilizing.
  • Our beautiful world.

But thats misguided.

These things are the same.

They come from the same place and swim in the same body of water.


My longtime friend Kate is visiting.

(She’s sleeping upstairs as we speak).

Last night we stayed up late:  Envisioning, Dreaming of, and Wondering about this event I am putting together for January 8th.

After lots of conversation

(and cake.

and wine.

ice cream too),

Kate said:

“You're planning a dance class for January 8th.   Sure, it's taking on a different form, with different players.  And no, nobody will know it’s a dance class…it won’t even enter their mind.  But you’ll know:  You'll know that what you all are doing together is dancing."

She's right.

When people leave the event I am getting together for Sunday January 8th, I hope I don’t hear them say:

“Well, good.  I know exactly what to do now.  I have a plan.  Glad that's over and done with.”

I hope what I do hear them say is:

“Hmmmmmm…….we're just at the beginning, aren't we?"

*|FNAME|*, your Dance Mission is to enter into and engage with your experiences and your encounters this week by saying "hmmmmm.....is this a beginning?"

Just for practice.

Let me know how it goes. With Warmth, always, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com


Let's get together and...


What if we all meet — in the middle — to take our shoes off, sit on the floor and roll around for a bit, before beginning the work of dreaming the world we want to walk in.


What if we all meet —at dusk —to watch the moon rise, and to sing a hallelujah.


What if those who gather are artists and politicians, teachers and mail carriers, front desk workers and chiefs of police.


What if those who gather are dishwashers and lawyers, tribal leaders and midwives.


What if you and I and everyone else takes a deep breath, closes our eyes, and dreams.

I can’t help but think of the Defense Council in Starhawk’s book, The Fifth Sacred Thing, which I have mentioned before in this very newsletter.


Do you remember this Defense Council I am speaking of?


This Defense Council made up of all the old ladies who lived in Starhawk’s San Francisco?


They gathered every week to dream, journey, and drop into the deepest part of their collective imagination.


From that place they came up with the solutions and strategies that would ward off outside invaders who were forever threatening their way of life.


Can we do that?


Can we be the ones who imagine and dream a world beyond what we know?


Can we be the ones who catch each other as we fall and surrender into curiosity, inquiry, and delight?


Helga is my new favorite podcast.


It probes and queries into questions of art making.


Art making that includes falling.


Art making that includes surrender.


Art making that includes awakening, imagining, and dreaming.


On this darkest day of the year, have a cup of tea, curl up underneath a warm blanket, and take a listen to this.

1. If you do want to get together and dream about what our role is going to be in the unfolding of this moment in history, sign up here to be on the Taking Action Email List. There will be a gathering to imagine on January 8th, and I would love for you to be there.

If you want to take a Free Dance Class on Tuesday, January 10th and/or Thursday, January 12th from 10:15am-12:15pm and you haven't emailed me yet, email me:
"You heard my insides." -- student after taking a Free Dance Class             
If you are curious about the upcoming dance session, and want to take class on an on-going basis, email me too:

“I was deciding between seeing the Dali Lama and coming to class              today.   I choose class.  Me too!!” -- Simone and Suzzy, students who are currently taking class.

4. The next Dog Dance is on Friday, January 20th.

It will be the 9th showing of this work in an on-going series of performances

Come if you can.

It is also a place to imagine:

"Wonder.  I'm thinking about wonder."  -- Helen Turner, audience member. With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

A Naked Ballerina

A little boy came home from school and told his mom that his teacher had asked all of the kids in his class to come to school the next day, dressed as the thing they wanted to be when they grew up.  

His mother said,  “What are you going to dress up as?”


The little boy replied,  “A ballerina.”


The mother said, “Boys can’t wear tutus.”


The little boy said, “Oh.”

The next morning the mother told her son and her daughter to get dressed while she made breakfast.


The kids got ready and came into the kitchen.


The girl was dressed and the boy did not have any clothes on.


The mother said to her son,  “What in the world is going on?  Why aren’t you dressed yet?”


The little boy said,  “Today is the day we go to school dressed as what we want to be when we grow up.”


The mother said,  “And what would that be?”


The little boy said,  “A naked ballerina.”


With that, he lifted his arms over his head and pirouetted, leapt, and pas de bour·réed across the open space.


This story comes from a college classmate of mine --  he was the naked ballerina.


He told this story more than 20 years ago, and I still think about it sometimes.


That call, that yearning, that sense of self that propels us forward with or without a tutu wrapped around our waist.


It’s getting stronger, that call, for all of us, don’t you think?


Since the election, I can hear it in the night. It’s almost like a distant hum or a far away whisper that keeps saying over and over and over again, to all of us here on planet earth:


  • Be the naked ballerina.
  • Make that tiny tear in the order of things.
  • Re-wire the beginning.
  • Undo the ending.
  • Make space in the middle for a dance to come forth — a dance that we do not know and cannot understand —yet.


This dance in the middle, it is about being with the unknown. It’s about staying curious -- about everything. It’s about following the deepest part of your creative self. As that part of your being opens up and out, surfacing from the deep blue sea of you, things begin to fall and then land in new and thrilling configurations, patterns, and orientations.


Dig in.

Spend some time in this place of wonder.


When you do that  -- this dance that is in the middle  -- it will organically grow and deepen, creating a wide palette of synchronicity and grace that then becomes available to every single one of us .


This then feeds the capacity for listening, understanding, and empathy within the ensemble of this planet we call home.


Be the naked ballerina.


It’s time.


With Warmth on this Cold and Wintery Day, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com



I am currently starting a new email list that will be dedicated to taking strategic action and engaging with prudent organizing in response to this most recent election.

Sign-up here to be added to this email list.

2. It's time to take some FREE DANCE CLASSES:

Tuesday, January 10th And/OR Thursday, January 12th

10:15-12:15pm at The Boulder Circus Center

Email me if your interested in attending one or both of these classes.

Click here to learn more.

3. Dog Dance happens next Friday, December 16th.

1510 Zamia Avenues, #101 7pm $5

Hope to see you there.

xo jo

dance ideas

"You should be breaking through the walls, breaking up the universe trying to find new things for yourself, & develop more deeply those that you have been working on.”  — Martha Meyers, Dean Emeritus at The American Dance Festival. This is the dance that is building inside of me:

Working title:  Cooking with Roy

Note: My father wanted to name me Roy, if I had been born a boy….can you imagine?

Roy Rotkin?


Long Red Nails that are really really long Amy Winehouse Beehive Hair-Do with things stuck in and out of it, like twigs, like birds, like bugs High Heels? Movement from deep inside

Run to me! Run to me!

Arms over head, shoulders to ears Barking/Hoofing Horse prances with that sound Head shaking, body bent a little bit forward while standing still Scooting all of the still and lying down people to the back of the stage and piling them up there

Pick up things and put them in my mouth

A Feminist Contact Improv Duet:  Gather everything from the floor and try to hold onto it all

Crawl backward and say ooh ooh ooh like a rescued chimpanzee and then stand still for a very long time.

Slow movement, noticing what is moving in my body and what is still in my body while grunting… but the grunting happens very rarely…it is more like a throaty moan. A dog house A Hazmat suit A Bert puppet and an Ernie puppet, talking earnestly about something precious Mouth on ground, butt up in the air, legs walking, arms to the side….building 

Sniff the air Slow and low down movement on a doctors table Folding and unfolding with a hunched over back Ice age sound while doing something hard

Folding chairs filling the stage or being moved off the stage or being carried the whole time on the stage A trench coat 


That's my dance, the one in my head.

It's a dance that may never be made.

Or seen.

Or realized.

Or it may.

I don't know yet.

What about you?

What's the dance that is building and burning inside of you?

Tell me about it here.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com


We must continue to gather.  

We must continue to practice and make time for what we value in our lives.


We must continue to meet each other.


We must continue to stand for one another.


We must continue to dream.


We must continue to show up, in the light.


We must continue to be bold.


We must continue to love.


We must continue to gather.


It is after midnight here in Colorado.


I promised myself I would sleep tonight, that I would turn off the computer and the phone, that I would stop watching the news, and that I would sleep.


But that is not what is happening.


I am wide awake and I am moving back and forth between my phone and my Facebook feed, between the NYTimes and FiveThirtyEight, and I cannot stop crying.


No matter how many deep breaths I take, or how many walks outside for a peek at the moon and the stars in the silence of this night up here on the hill, I cannot stop crying.


Except when I think about you.


When I think about you Joanna, and when I think about what I am going to say to you in the morning after this election, I stop crying and I start remembering that we are artists, you and I, and as artists we vision and we dream.


We break down the rules to find out what is underneath.


And we do that by gathering together to cry, to dance, to laugh, to share a meal, and to gaze at the moon.


We have no idea what will happen in the next few days or months.


We have no idea how things will unfold and play out.


We have no idea what is going to be called for as we meet what comes next.


So we must gather.


We must cast our spells.


We must continue to grow into ourselves and this world with presence, courage and love.


We must continue to stand with, and for each other with presence, courage and love.


We must meet whatever it is we are called to meet with presence, courage and love. Many of you have inquired and asked about the family emergency I mentioned a few weeks ago.


The update is that we are still in the throes of the emergency, though it has quieted a bit.


The actual “emergency” and the details of it are not mine to tell, so I won’t go into it here, but the results of this election have made it that much harder.


I am moving through it with less grace than I had hoped for, but I am still moving.


Thank you for your kind words and your well wishes.


I know that you too have been through a family emergency at some point, and that you may be going through a crisis yourself, right now, as you read this newsletter the day after the election.


You too are walking through the fire.


That in itself is the beginning of the gathering.


With love, in the early morning hours after the election. Joanna