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

Here We Go!

Before I dive in and tell you about the show that is happening in our local swimming pool this weekend

(Ha Ha get it?  “Dive In”….Oh.  You got that already didn’t you?  Way before I did.  My 14 year-old niece is rolling her eyes at me as I write this.  I’m slow on the uptake sometimes, okay?),

I want to share an email I got from my dear friend and colleague, Kim Nelson.

I was lamenting this abyss I have been talking about lately

— Let me say again, to one and to all:   This is a “creative abyss”  that I speak of, and I am totally okay.  I am better than okay.   Something is shifting, percolating, coming into being, and when I am not wallowing in the unknown and fear of that,  I am shimmering on the edges of it.   The abyss I am referring to is not a fall into a depressive or anxiety driven mental state.  I know that state well, from my own experiences, and from witnessing it with friends and family.  This is not the type of abyss I am referring too, so no need to fret.  That being said:  Thank you so much for your concern,  for your worried phone calls, and for your kind emails.   My mother is shaking her head right about now:  “I told you this would happen.  It’s time to climb of whatever “creative abyss” you are in and find a real job missy” —

when I got this email from Kim:

“I sense a wisdom in the fervent curiosity, a call as an artist, as a person, to go to a place that is not known, surrender, possibly feel like you are going to die, and maybe die, only to gather and strengthen a more layered knowing.  It is scary shit to have your mind, and everything you have known, blown open. You inspire me. I feel moved toward a desire regarding my own curiosities of a type of diving in and sharing.…It seems you are following the deeper current.  That deeper impulse does not always move me toward what feels good, but seems to move me toward what (is) a necessary dissonance.”

I have read Kim’s response many times over the course of these past few weeks, and I am slowly allowing myself to breath into, and follow the “necessary dissonance” that is unfolding.

Yes, it is hard and uncomfortable at times.

No matter, I will continue to dive in.

I will continue to follow the “deeper current” that is emerging.

I can’t imagine not doing this, no matter how disconcerting and bewildering the dive might be.

As I  was pondering all of this the other day - wondering if my mother was right about packing it all up once and for all - I got this lovely email from a long time friend and reader, Tyr Pinder, who lives in Wales:

“By the way, I am doing bird dances in many shapes and forms.  Come fly with me.  Let’s fly away.”

 I read that email from Tyr - far way in Wales - and I held my breath, and I dove.

Do you want to dive in too?

Speaking of…

GOODNIGHT, COURTNEY LOVE opens this weekend!

GOODNIGHT, COURTNEY LOVE is a site-specific dance performance created by Laura Ann Samuelson and myself that takes place in the swimming pool at The North Boulder Recreation Center:

Friday, February 19th, 2016 at 7 PM

Saturday, February 20th, 2016 at 7 PM

Saturday, February 27th, 2016 at 7 PM


The North Boulder Recreation Center

3170 Broadway Street

Boulder, CO 80304

All performances are FREE and open to the public.

It gets hot and humid in the pool area, so make sure to wear a light t-shirt or tank top underneath your other clothes.

Your Dance Mission for the week is to find a body of water, submerge yourself, and dance.

It can be the local swimming pool, as we have been doing in creating Goodnight, Courtney Love, or it could even be your bathtub.  If you are in a warmer climate, a pond, the ocean, a mountain stream would be amazing.  I am jealous if that is the body of water you get to dance in.

If you are local, I hope to see you this weekend or next Saturday.

If you are not local, have a wonderful week and I will miss seeing you in the pool!

For everyone, post your comments here, and share this newsletter everywhere.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

I am a horse

Since running Joanna and The Agitators became my full time job, I have become a work horse. I have been working my whole teen and adult life, but I have never worked quite this hard.

The truth is, I could slow myself down to a trot if I wanted.

But I don’t want to, because the galloping is really fun.

As I write this to you, I am realizing that I talk about work and jobs a lot in this newsletter.

I don’t know why exactly, except that all of these weird and crazy dead-end jobs and all those times in my life when I didn’t have enough money for food or a subway token when I was living in Brooklyn, NYC, or when I couldn’t pay the heating bill and wrapped myself in blankets filling out job applications when I was living in Northampton, MA, or that time I ran out of money in Arizona. I was ok because the house I was renting had a grapefruit tree out back, and I lived off of grapefruits for a week until my next pay check came in.

Those times,

They have shaped me, as I’m sure they have shaped you.

I started working when I was 15 (babysitting since I was 12) and have been working ever since .

It’s only been recently, in these past two years, that this work has been entirely my own.

Before that, I was:

A Baby Sitter

A Salad Bar Girl at Sea Galley: My first experience with sexual harassment when the Salad Bar Boy takes a hold of my breasts and twists them like doorknobs.

A Data Enterer, a data enterer, and a data enterer

A Cookie Server at Mrs. Field’s Cookies on the Pearl Street Mall

An Environmental and Outdoor Educator at Cal-Wood (so much fun..that was a magical place)

A Worker at May D & F: Cashier Lancóme Lady Underwear Folder Hosiery Coordinator Christmas Present Wrapper

A Box Folder

A Box Counter

A Buser at Turley’s

A Book Duster and Alphabetizer at Norlin Library

A Barista (for 2 hours)

A Sou Chef (for 1 hour)

A Web Developer (for 20 minutes)

A Ballet Teacher (for one class, and then I get the boot)

A Personal Assistant (HA! That one lasted for a whole 2 weeks)

An Ikea Furniture Putter Together

A Massager for officey kind of people

An Administrator for the brilliant Alice Teirstein and the Young Dance Makers at Feildston High School

A Dance Teacher for Mentally Ill Senior Citizens at the most neglected and awful institutions in the farthest reaches of all the NYC Burroughs: Imagine One Flew Over Cuckoo’s Nest. -Far Rockaway (Sexual Harassment Up the Wazoo. Also, is Far Rockaway a Burrough or is it something else?) -The Bronx (Not Sexual Harassment, just sad and sweet: When I walk into his room to guide him through some movement, bedridden and very frail man says to me: “Are you here to make love to me?”) -Queens -Brooklyn -Staten Island

A Recycling Manager (more sexual harassment ensues. I duck as much as possible, and get by as best as I can, like so many of us did, and so many still do)

A Stage Manager at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange

An Environmental and Outdoor Educator at Sargent Camp

A Staff member at The Omega Institute of Holistic Studies: - Greeter and Luggage Carrier (had a little incident with Gabriel Roth’s luggage so I got transferred to Golf Cart Driver) -Golf Cart Driver for guests that didn’t want to walk to the Dining Hall (Lost control of the golf cart and it ended up in the stream by the Buddha Bridge, so I got transferred to gardening…when the gardening didn’t work out, they asked me to be the dance teacher….that one stuck)

A Dance Teacher and Leadership Facilitator at NYC Public Schools

An Adjunct Dance Faculty at Naropa and CU

A Worker and all around pain in the tucas at Long’s Iris Gardens on and off from 1987-2012: -Mowed the wrong lawn. -Cut the branches off of the Maple Tree instead of the Oak Tree. -Fixed the fence in the north field instead of the south field. -Painted the barn yellow instead of white. -Cleaned out the wrong outbuilding. -Backed the small tractor into the Lavender Bush. -When getting the iris plants ready for shipping, I labeled a plant Goodnight, Moon instead of Goodnight, Irene by accident because I was daydreaming that day. That was the only mistake I made where my boss Catherine got angry. Otherwise, she brushed everything off and said “Will I see you next summer then?”

And now?

Drum Roll, PALEASE!

As of two years ago my job is:

Running my own business teaching dance classes and making dance shows.

It’s a humble existence, for sure.

But it’s mine.

And I love it.

I’m not living hand to mouth anymore, it’s more like hand to………mouth.

(Did you get that? There is now just a little more space between my hand and my mouth. So it’s still hand to mouth, it just takes my hand longer to get to my mouth….Never mind)

And yes, it’s really hard work, and it’s totally worth it.


So, talking about being a workhorse, here we go:

1. The next Dog Dance happens in a little over a week: Friday, February 12th at 7pm. Floorspace. 1510 Zamia #101. $5

2. Goodnight, Courtney Love opens in a little over 2 weeks: Friday, Feb 19th at 7pm Saturday, Feb 20th at 7pm Saturday, Feb 27th at 7pm

In the Leisure Swimming Pool at The North Boulder Recreation Center.

FREE and Family Friendly.

3. Classes are full, and I am galloping along, at top speed.

Because I am in the pool a lot, rehearsing for Goodnight, Courtney Love, your Dance Mission for the Week is to imagine you are also dancing in a swimming pool. What sort of movement emerges when you are in the water: fully submerged, floating on the surface, sliding in along the edges with half of your body underneath the water and half of your body out of the water.

What happens?

Here is a chunky piece of music to get you going.

Share, post, make a comment…you know what to do.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending


ps.  Simone Key sent me this drawing she made on her phone, after class.  I love it.

Dog Dance

It’s happening.

This coming Friday, at 7pm at Julie Rothschild Floorspace in Boulder.

This THING I’ve been wanting to do for so long, and haven’t done because it could go oh so terribly wrong.

I’m close to leaping off of my chair, and cowering in the corner as I imagine all that could go wrong…so terribly, terribly wrong.

But I’m doing it anyway: 

I’m performing a solo called Dog Dance that is entirely improvised.

Why I’m choosing to do this, at this point in my life, I have no idea.

No.  That’s a lie.  I do know why.  I know exactly why I’m doing this. 

I’m doing this because I want share, and to be in exchange with my audience, by simply noticing the situation, and then rigorously following whatever it is that arises in that particular situation.

I don’t want to know how it will all unfold until it is unfolding - in real time.

And, more importantly, I want to see what’s on the other side of not knowing.

I’m gonna to let you in on a little secret:

Sometimes I feel like I’m on the edges of this dancing life, and at other times I feel like I’m burrowing right into it’s center. 

By sharing Dog Dance with you, I’m burrowing in, through a new tunnel.

The first time I saw someone do an entirely improvised solo was when I was in college, and I had the honor of seeing Simone Forti perform.

Holy Hell, it was one of the best thing I’v ever seen, and I still remember it to this day, 20 odd years later.

She made a world that was radiant, alive, and real, and I wanted in.

And then……

School and work and money and time all became excuses not to go forward with what I’ve been wanting to do for a very long time.

It didn’t happen and it didn’t happen and it didn’t happen, and now….

I’m going to give it a try.

I am going to show up, and see what happens.

Every 3rd Friday of the month (except for this February, when Dog Dance will happen on  the 2nd Friday of the month) I’m going to show up at 7pm, and begin.

As I said in my little facebook event for Dog Dance:

I have a whole lotta feels about sharing this new work with you.

I would love for you to be there.

And, I’m terrified that you might actually show up.

A huge shout out and deep thank you to Andrew Marcus who watched it all unfold, and who gave me the push and permission I needed to make this happen.

Your dance mission for this next week is to lay down on the ground and imagine that your body is filled with water.

As you begin to move, notice how the water pours and pools and rushes through your body.

See if you can stay in this imagined place, noticing your breath and your sensation, for 20 minutes.

Here's a song to get your started:

If you liked what you read, will you share it?

As always post your comments here, as I love hearing from you.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending


I’m going to be taking a two week break for the holidays, so no newsletter will be sent out on December 23rd and December 30th.  I will be checking email though, so feel free to email me if you have any questions during that time. 

Hope you have a wonderful holiday break and am looking forward to being in conversation with you in the New Year.


Send me your dog photos.

Because Dog Dance will be taking place the third friday of every month, I need dog photos.

Do you have any that you want to send my way that I could use on Facebook and in this newsletter?

If so, send them to:

xoxoxo jo

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

is that a mini-snake?

asked the same friend who asked me for my “animal” instead of my email a few weeks ago. Technically, it was not a mini snake, it was a millipede.

But hey, we all see the world differently so if she saw a mini snake, she saw a mini snake.

It is sort of the same with post-modern/experimental/post-post-modern//next wave/call it what you will/ DANCE.

Some people see a mini snake. Some people see a millipede.

One is not better than the other.

For example: You go to see a post post post post modern dance performance with a friend.

You see a story about women hitting the glass ceiling over and over again. She sees a portrait of her grandmother.

You see the wild of the world strutting toward midnight. She sees a war that will never end.

You are bored out of your mind. She is riveted and spellbound.

You see a mini-snake. She sees a millipede. And the guy sitting next to you sees a squiggly line on the ground.

That’s just sort of how it goes.

The people in the front row might be laughing their asses off, while you are sitting very still, holding your chin in your hand, contemplating the images swirling in front of you.

Trust it.

There is nothing to get or understand or figure out. Just feel what you feel, let it take you where it will, and trust your own experience of this world that is being created just a few feet away.

Then go out to dinner and talk about what you just saw with your friend. You don’t need to figure it out. Talk, listen, and stay curious.

Seeing live performance is a bit risky. You can’t switch channels or scroll down to the cute cat video. You can’t skip ahead, or go back and read it over. You most likely won’t walk out,

(Full Disclosure: I did walk out when the performer was taking huge bites out of a struggling to stay alive very large silver fish. I would suggest walking out when you are witnessing something of this nature)

and you most likely won’t be eating a snack,

(Full Disclosure: I did eat bacon one time that I had hidden in my pocket. I would suggest bringing bacon if the performance is over 3 hours long).

So this basically means that you will just be sitting there, watching what is unfolding. You might not like it. You might be bored. You might be angry or sad or uncomfortable or confused.

You might be elated. You might be surprised. You might be delighted, enchanted, and captivated.

The performer or performers might be having an off night, or they might be so on that the room is sizzling.

That’s the risk you take. You just don’t know.

I believe this is a risk worth taking because the pay off is enormous.

Something profound and far reaching happens when we see live performance.

Cells reorganize in our bodies, bodies reorganize in space, and then the space we inhabit becomes more vivid, arresting, and remarkable.

What has been borrowing underneath the surface of everyday activity emerges into the light.

Like a millipede. Or a mini snake.

Napping in sun. . You have two dance missions this week:

The first dance mission is to dance for one minute before you go to sleep tonight.

The second is to see a live dance performance with a friend. Go out to dinner afterward and talk about the show you just saw.

Write about your experience or post a video on the blog:

or on Facebook:

Either way, I would love to hear from you. On another note: Thank you to everyone who came out to see dirtland these past two weekends. We had great audiences and it was a pleasure to share this work with you. With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending