more space

Last week I wrote to you about the new project I am working on with Laura Ann called Goodnight, Courtney Love that will take place at our local swimming pool.

I talked about the challenges of working in that kind of environment, and about what was not going so well.

This week I want to tell you about what is extraordinary about working in that kind of environment, and about what is going well.

So let’s “dive”  in:

Dinosaur Dancing:

Dinosaur Dancing has transformed itself  into Whale Dancing (it doesn’t role off the tongue as nicely without that little alliteration, but I think you get it anyway), which is about jumping as high as you can out of the water and then landing with a splash and a smack on the descent back down.  

Disclaimer and Tangent:  

I first practiced Whale Dancing two summers ago while at a Holiday Inn in Laramie, Wyoming.

I was in the hotel swimming pool with my niece and her friend.  I started catapulting myself through the water, jumping and splashing as much as I could.  

When I asked the girls if I looked like a swan they both said “No. You look like a whale.  A clumsy and crazy kind of whale.”

I said “Really?  Well thats kinda cool.”

The girls rolled their eyes and continued practicing their backflips.

I have been wanting a place to insert that whale like movement for awhile now.

I think I  just found it.


There is no privacy in a public swimming pool and that is what makes site-work, any kind of site-work, so very interesting.

I love working alone or with a small group in a dance studio, shut off from the rest of the world, as I find my way into the creative process through the physical body.

There is something compelling about what arises in that kind of solitary and reclusive sort of environment. 

But for me, bringing the creative process out of that exclusivity and into day to day living is exquisite.

It is where I am drawn to over and over again.

The people I meet, the conversations I have, the way I begin to look at the space, the way I begin to interact with my environment — the way the environment and the people change me — its like communion.

A perfect example happened yesterday at rehearsal:

LA and I were working on a section where I am draped over her back as she slowly crawls forward singing Dona Nobis Pacem.

I keep falling off of her back and climbing back on as this is happening.

LA’s head was down so she couldn’t see that she was crawling directly into a mom and her toddler.

I got really really embarrassed as I realized what we looked like from the outside so I slid off LA’s back as quickly as I could and apologized to the mom for getting in her way.

The mom said:  “Oh no, you don’t have to apologize.  I’m just so curious about what you’re doing.  Why are you singing Dona Nobis Pacem as you crawl forward, and why do you keep falling off her back and getting back on again?”

When we explained we were rehearsing for a Dance Performance, the mom got really excited and started to tell us about her work as a documentary playwright.  

That got us really excited and we began to ask her all sorts of questions about documentary playwriting.

If we hadn’t been in the middle of rehearsal and if we hadn’t all been soaking wet I have a feeling the the four of us would have gone out to breakfast to keep the conversation going.

And the lifeguards, the staff, the front desk people, the cleaning crew, and all the other employees at the North Boulder Rec Center?

They are amazing.  

Truly amazing.

I have done a lot of site-specific work and this is the first place I have worked where everyone really gets it. 

And if they don’t get it, they are curious enough to try to figure it out.

The generosity, kindness, and delight at having us rehearse in their swimming pool every Tuesday and Thursday morning is palpable.

The Space:

The space is still huge and overwhelming and loud and industrial with stray hairs and band-aids all along the edges and also in the water.  

And that is what makes it amazing.  

The possibilities are endless:  there are slides and windows and water fountains and play structures and offices and locker rooms and saunas and shallow ends and deep ends and railings and drains and steps and hallways and alcoves and basketball hoops and water. 

Lots and lots of water.

So we go slow, knowing there is no way we are going to be able to give all of that space the honor and time it deserves.

We notice where we are drawn to and we go there:  the water, the basketball hoops, the shallow ends, the edges.  

And then we wait to see what happens.

Peeing in the water:

What can I say?  

People will always pee in the pool.

Thwarted, Crushed, and Defeated Dreams:

Oh I was just being dramatic.

We will figure out a way to make this dance happen with whatever limits there are, ‘cause that is just what happens no matter where you are working and no matter what you are working on, right?

Your dance mission for the week is ambitious, so just see what happens.

Be creative.

See if you can figure out a way for the instructions you are about to read work for you, your resources, our time, and your yearning:

Go and find a body of water — any body of water.  

Dance on the edges of the water.

Dance in shallow ends of the water.

Dance in the deep ends of the water.

When you are done and soaking wet, get out of the water and dance again:

on the edges.

Let me know how it goes.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,

Joanna of Joanna and the Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending