You know those dreams, the ones you have over and over and over again?
What are those called?
Oh yeah, reoccurring dreams:
The one where your teeth are pouring out of your mouth.
The one where you keep dialing the wrong number on your phone, in the middle of an emergency.
The one where you are driving, and suddenly you go blind, or suddenly you have no brakes, or both.
The one where you are sliding down a slanted roof and can’t stop the sliding that is getting faster and faster.
The one where you are back in high school. You have to do all of your coursework again. And you forgot your clothes.
The one where you keep dropping the baby, over and over and over again.
Those dreams…do you have those kinds of dreams?
I had a few of them last night.
What a a relief to wake up this morning and realize I do not have to take an Algebra test in my underwear.
I checked the mirror, first thing, and all my teeth were in tact.
I have a lot of these reoccurring dreams that I can’t seem resolve.
I also have a lot of reoccurring conversations too, and one of those did get resolved, fairly recently.
It’s a conversation I've had here actually, in this newsletter, quite a bit.
It's about art.
Is art frivolous or is it essential?
Especially right now, in this moment in history, with everything that is going on in the world, with all of the different directions our futures may take, where does art and art making fit in?
As all the madness, fear, anger, lack of vision, and violence continues to unfold before our stunned and devastated eyes, something is settling and coming to rest at the core of my being.
And that is this: art is enough.
It is more than enough.
Without it, we would be lost -- as a people, a society, a culture, and a world.
Last Wednesday night, Glen and I took our nephew, Mikey, to see Twenty One Pilots at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
If you don’t know — and I surely would not know unless I had a 14 year-old nephew keeping me up to date on all things pop — Twenty One Pilots is a Pop/Punk/Rock Band made up of two young guys named Tyler and Josh.
Their songs are all over the radio right now.
And Tyler and Josh were pretty good.
They were excellent actually.
When you have a sold out theater of 10,000 people singing songs together, dancing, and waving cellphones in the air, and when that theater is filled with all kinds of people - young, old, straight, gay, black, brown, white - that’s something.
That's a reminder about the potential of art to elevate and bring out the best in all of us.
We had a young lesbian couple sitting in front of us (I would guess they were about 15 or 16 years old) making out for most of the show.
They were surrounded on both sides by groups of bulky chested, arm pumping kind of guys.
I was a little scared for these two young girls exploring their sexuality so publicly while being surrounded by guy guy kind of guys.
I was on alert, ready to pounce if anything went awry or any words were exchanged.
The girls continued to kiss, and they were safe to explore this new found love as the rest of us held the space: singing, dancing, and doing the wave.
The choreography of the evening unfolded with precision, beauty, and good feelings all around.
When I asked Mikey why people like this band so much, he said: “Because they get us. They understand what we are feeling.”
There you go:
Art reflecting humanity, and art reflecting where we are now, right at this moment in time.
If this pop/punk band is able to distill the nuance of longing, confusion, loneliness, love, friendship, and beauty; and in doing so, they see us -- the audience -- and they are in relationship with us -- the audience -- through it all, so that 10,000 of us are lifted up, for a few hours on a summer night in the mountains of Colorado?
Then that's art, and that is essential to our humanity, our knowing, and our understanding of the world.
That experience at Red Rocks is in all of us who were that night, waving our cell phones in the air, back and forth, back and forth.
All that light.
The world, as you know, is precarious right now.
I do not need to list all that has been unfolding recently, and all that will continue to unfold in ways we cannot foresee.
What I can say though, with certainty, is that whatever and however it all unfolds, I know that art and art making will be paramount in the reflection of this unfolding, in this moment in history.
Art and art making will be central to marking down all that must be named and cannot be forgotten.
Our neighbor has a bumper sticker that says “Art Saves Lives.”
I was always a little bit like “Well, does it though?”
I’ve changed my tune.
Art does Save Lives.
It has saved and uplifted mine, many many times.
I know that the band we saw last Wednesday night has saved and uplifted many lives that have been lost, uncertain, and alone.
All that light.
Is art enough?
I'm saying yes.
Continue on your path.
Our world is too scary, too unsteady right now for you not to.
Stay the course.
We need you to say the truth.
We need you to be one of the many threads that are a reflection of our humanity — the good and the bad — in this moment in time.
Your Dance Mission for the week is to notice the art that is all around you, all the time, and to consider how this art you are seeing and experiencing is a reflection of our humanity right now.
In the fabric of your clothes, the spontaneous dances in the streets, the murals on the walls, the books you read, the music and podcasts you listen to, the tv and movies you watch:
Why is this kind of art happening now?
Why is it needed?
What is it saying?
Who and what is it reflecting?
What kind of art will be needed in 10, 20, 100 years?
Most importantly, what kind of art is needed right now?
With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending
Joanna and The Agitators
Joanna and The Agitators is a platform dedicated to upending the status quo through live dance performance, movement education, and improvisation.