A Guru? A Teacher? A Specialist? A Swami?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gurus and teachers and specialists and swami’s.

I’ve been thinking about the time when my swim coach yelled at me to shave two seconds off my time, and I nodded and I sputtered, and by god I shaved off those two seconds, and was then shamefully pleased when she gave me a friendly pat on the butt and a high five and a “Good job, Jo” at the end of the swim.

As someone who could care less about racing and speed and competition (Actually, I love competition, so much so, that I try to pretend  that I don’t, because it scares me how much I care about winning), why was I so pleased? 

And I was thinking about the time when I was in grad school, and seeing a Reichian Therapist. 

He had me stand about a foot away from the wall, with my back arched, and the crown of my head pressed into that wall.

Then it got quiet.

For a long time.

I waited, and waited, and waited.

Back arched, crown of my head pressed into the wall.

My neck was cramping, my legs were trembling, and I couldn’t feel my toes.

I don’t know how much time passed before I finally stood up and said, “I can’t do this anymore.”

Then the therapist said:

“I’ve never had anyone hold that position for as long as you did.  Why did you stay there, in that position, past the point of your comfort and your well-being?”

I nodded, and I sputtered, and I left that office as quickly as I could, and I never came back.

I’m thinking about the time I was in a workshop when I was teaching at The Omega Institute, years and years ago, and we did one of those awful exercises where you have to sit across from your partner and stare into each other’s eyes for a gazillion years.

My partner was the leader of the workshop.

I stared and I stared into his eyes.

And yes, his face did turn into a million different incarnations of all of the people in my life, and in one instance I saw my great-grandmother, and in the next I saw a lion, and then I saw all of the stones in all of the lands holding all of the suffering the world has ever known.

I saw myself as the lion, and the great-grandmother, and the stones.

When it was all over, and we had to share what we had experienced, I told my partner all of this.

He said:

“All I saw was you, without your clothes on.”

And instead of throwing up, right there in his face, and instead of calling out truth and honor and justice - loudly - I smiled and laughed and shifted uncomfortably in my seat, crossing my arms over my chest.


I’ve been thinking about the time I was in a dance class, and was told to follow what was true for me, rather than to focus on what I looked like or if I was doing it right.

I had no idea what this meant, how to do it, or why this instruction was given.

I ended up having my first major panic attack that day.

But I came back to the class, over and over and over again.

I slowly began to soften in my belly, and for the first time in my dancing life, I had a felt sense of my body.

I had a felt sense of who I was in relationship to everything around me.

I had a felt sense of my connection to the earth, and I discovered the larger delight of following my own instinct, intuition, and knowing.

Eventually, I developed an embarrassing crush on this teacher that was undignified and sloppy.

And yeah, we had to have the kind of talk that leaves one feeling flayed.

But we had the talk, which was honest and kind.

We had the talk, mortifying as it was, that was enveloped in deep respect and understanding.

The talk meant I didn’t have to walk away, or gossip about the crush with my friends, or create a story in my head that wasn’t real, or speak poorly about this teacher to keep my dignity in tack.

The talk meant that I could keep coming to class, and that I could continue to uncover and experience the listening, the sensing, and the perceiving of the body in relationship to the larger world that I still practice to this day.

Now THAT was a good teacher.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gurus and teachers and specialists and swami’s.

When to stick with them, and when to walk away.

When there is uplift in the teaching, and when there is not.

Those times when we leave an experience with a guru or a swami, a specialist or a leader, a teacher or a coach, and we feel liberated.

Those times when we leave that same sort of experience and feel a little ick. 

I don’t really have anything to say about any of this, I’ve just been thinking about it.

Your dance mission for the week is to put on your favorite song and dance.

Then turn the music off, and touch in with your breath.

Get a sense of how your body feels.

From there, from the quiet of your own body and your own breath, begin to dance.

Share this newsletter with a friend or two, post it on social media, and then tell me what you think and/or share your own story about a guru or a teacher or a specialist or a swami.  You can post your thoughts right here.

And here’s what’s happening these days with Joanna and The Agitators!!!

Performances and Showings:


Dog Dance

Friday, December 18th at 7pm, $5.

I will be doing my first showing of this new solo at Julie Rothschild Movement Studio, 1510 Zamia Avenue, #101.


Goodnight, Courtney Love

Sometime in February  in the swimming pool at The North Boulder Recreation Center.

Laura Ann and I are still waiting to hear back from the NBRC to confirm the dates and times of the show, so I will let you know as soon as I know.

This one is FREE and Family Friendly.

Class, Class, Class:


Holiday Workshops:


Sunday, December 27th from 10-5pm

Sunday, January 3rd from 10-5pm

Sunday, January 10th from 10-5pm

Sunday, January 17th from 10-5pm

A one hour lunch break from around 1-2pm, with 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day when needed.


One Workshop is $100

Two Workshops: 10% Discount, $90 each ($180)

Three Workshops: 15% Discount, $85 each ($255)

Four Workshops: 20% Discount, $80 each ($320)


The Boulder Circus Center.

These workshops are starting to fill up, so if you’re interested, or have any questions, email me and we’ll talk.


Anatomy of Improvisation:

The next dance session starts on February 2 and goes through the end of May:

Tuesdays:  11-1pm

Thursdays: 11-1pm

Saturdays: 10-12pm

At The Boulder Circus Center.

I’ll send more detailed information about this upcoming dance session next week.


Free Classes:

If you haven’t never taken a class with me, and you’re curious to know what it’s all about before committing to a whole session, these classes are for you:

Tuesday, January 12th: 11-1pm

Saturday, January 16th: 10-12pm

At The Boulder Circus Center.

Feel free to email me with any questions or concerns you might have about all or any of this.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending