The Horror of Being Human

It can be a horror sometimes, can’t it?

It’s a delight as well, of course, and that is mostly where I tend to dwell.

But this morning I am drawn for some reason, to the horror part.


This phrase, “The Horror of Being Human” came from Andrew Marcus last week, during a class, when he was speaking of the conundrum of presence, and it stuck with me.

It brought me, ironically, to a place of freedom.

“The human experience?

It’s a friggin’ horror show.

Glad we agree.

Let’s move on”

Is sort of how it felt.

When I was younger, dancing was a way to hover above the horror, keeping it at bay with momentum, flight, and velocity.

Always moving.

Always moving.

Always moving.

Now, as I enter into this next phase of human experience

(is this next phase called Middle Age…is that the correct term?  Egads!),

I enter into these same elements:  momentum, flight, and velocity,  but I enter in from stillness.

And this stillness….yes, sometimes it produces horror.

But within that horror, within that fear and possible loneliness, there is something else too.

Something else that is quiet and soft.

Something else that is perhaps broken, perhaps not, but that is in need of attention.

Something else that is asking to be remembered.

What is happening for me — particularly in the work I am engaged in with Andrew right now,  in the research and inquire into the Dog Dance Performance Series — is this:

As I enter  into my work as a dancer, performer, choreographer, artist, movement educator, and improviser with more precision and clarity, I touch something that is deep seated and acutely fundamental about my being.

When I touch this part of myself, when I allow myself to enter into and create from this place, the horror is quieted.

And it is from this place that I enter into complete and utter freedom.

In this way, what I am sharing in Dog Dance is my entire self, and what remains of myself  when everything I know to be “right” about dancing, choreographing, improvising, performing, entertaining and pleasing, when all of that is — with great respect and reverence — undone.

Your Dance Mission for The Week is “Un-Do” your own dancing and to “Un-Do” what you know about your own dancing.

Turn it upside down and inside out by letting yourself be still.

Notice the dance that comes from that place.

As someone who dances every single day, and who loves momentum, flight, and velocity, I know how hard stillness can be.

I couldn’t do it for a long long time, and many times, I still can’t.

There was a time, when I was living in NYC, desperately struggling with debilitating insomnia and anxiety when a dance teacher said to the class:   “Feel the delight and pleasure of being in your body.” 

My delight and my pleasure were so unreachable to me at that point, that I walked out in the middle of the class, and wept all the way home on the B-Train  to Brooklyn.


To whoever says New Yorkers are unkind and nasty:  Have you ever wept on the B-Train to Brooklyn?  If you haven’t, you should.   An old woman in a fake fur coat with long red nails and heavy gold jewelry, rubbed my back and then insisted on walking me up the subway stairs and pointing me in the right direction before giving me a hug good-bye.

So Try.

Try, if just for a moment, to be still, and  to notice then where the dancing - the momentum, the flying, the velocity - where do those elements, from where do they begin?

Most likely you will not die while you are in your moment of stillness, even though it might feel as if you will.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

PS #1: The pay pal button for the Summer Session of Anatomy of Improvisation is LIVE.

You know I like to keep my classes small, so click here now to purchase your dancing adventure for the summer.

Your purchase will automatically reserve your spot in the upcoming summer session. PPS #2: The Colorado Creative Industries Summit  happens on May 5-6th 2016, and I will be speaking on a panel about Art and Innovation with Kim Olson and Betsy Tobin.

If you happen to be in Carbondale, CO., stop on by and say hello!


PPS $3: UPCOMING:  FREE DANCE CLASSES: Tuesday, May 31st and Thursday, June 2nd 11-1pm At The Boulder Circus Center.

Email if you plan to attend


PPPS #4: The next Dog Dance is slated for September, 2016.  

Keep your nose to the wind for more info this fall.