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