3 Things People Are Saying

I’m sitting here this morning, sipping the espresso that Glen just made me with our brand new espresso press, wondering what to share with you today.

I’m wondering if I should share the silly story about the time I auditioned to be in a ballet project with Jacques d’Amboise when I was 12 years old.

He came right up to me in a room that was packed with kids, and said: “Are you in 4th?” (He meant 4th position, as in the ballet position — I thought he meant 4th, as in the grade).

I said, “No, I’m in 6th.” (There is no 6th position in ballet — I was referring to the grade).

He looked at me with disgust and said “Well aren’t you a brat?”

He turned his back and walked away while shooing me out of the room.

That was the end of my ballet career with Jacques d’Amboise (I was so upset I tore the satin off my point shoes)!

But I think I’m not going to talk about that, except to say:

While looking up Jacques d’Amboise on Wikipedia just now to make sure I was spelling his name correctly, I found out his name was not Jacques d’Amboise.

It was Joseph Ahearn!

And he was born in Dedham, Massachusettes, not France! 

Did you think he was born in France?  I thought he was born in France….sheesh.


I’m going to stay quiet today, and let my students speak:

This, from Linda Stonerock  who wrote to me after last week’s newsletter went out about being 10:

“It’s so funny to me, your take on 10. 10 was a pivotal age for me, and it was when i began to know MY OWN mind, distinct from what my parents, teachers, the Bible, or any other outside entity told me about reality. I actually made a conscious decision to take what i felt was true more seriously than what anyone else said….and i also decided that i would not necessarily share my POV with someone, especially adults, who might try to make me wrong. This truth was precious and to be explored, validated, questioned or discarded by me and me alone.

i felt 10 was the sweetest year in my life. A watershed. It’s still up there in the top 5 best years, even at 63!!

xo Linda”

This, from Helen Turner, in conversation, after class recently:

“I can find someone else’s breath in the group when I cannot locate my own.”

This, from a writing exercise we did in class this past Sunday:

Could not do the warm up

It was a warm up for other people and their bodies

Not for me.


Where is my body, the body I used to have?

Did I forget it at home?

Whose body is this?

The one that takes 15 minutes to walk across a parking lot

The one that has blood drawn again and again

The one that can't stand up


On two feet

Or walk across the floor

That limps and lurches

The one that seizes danger


A cough

A sneeze

A shift in the pavement

A pain

A spot

Anything could be dangerous.

Whose body is this?


This is mine

(No. It can't be.)



It is.

My mother had a way of judging people.

She would say that woman wouldn't have lasted a day in Auschwitz.

What would she say of this body of mine?

— Paulette Fire, Sunday, March 13th, 2016

And there is nothing left to say.

With Warmth,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending


This is what happens when you don't sleep and instead you wander the halls 'till the wee hours of the morning in your grandmother's nightgown.

It’s one of those days.

Up all night, fretting about the upcoming election and the madness of this world.

The hatred and the greed that is permeating the media outlets has my wires all tangled.

I can’t seem to feel my feet on the earth, or locate my breath.

All this talk of moving out of the country if “so and so” becomes President  — good god, please tell me that this will not, and cannot happen.

But if “so and so” does become President, heaven forbid, I don’t want to move.

I love it here.

I love this little life I am carving out for myself.

Right here at home, with you.

And also, don’t we need to stay anyway, to fight the good fight?

To keep telling the truth?

To keep showing up?

To keep the conversation honest?

Remember when I talked about this “deeper current” in last week’s newsletter that my friend Kim mentioned in terms of creativity? 

Maybe it’s the same thing with these “world power structures” as well.

Maybe there is some deeper current I need to follow that goes beyond Facebook, talk radio, and all the nasty exchanges that are actually not exchanges at all, and instead are just shame and blame. 

I am embarrassed to admit it,  but I have been part of those nasty exchanges. 

I have shamed and blamed, out of sheer frustration and inability to honestly communicate about heated and complicated issues that can rip families - and nations - apart.

I guess that is what I am wondering about this morning, after a night of wondering through the house and imagining the worst, not being able to get the image out of my head about a certain potential future president:

  • How do I stay centered and sane so I can follow the deeper current.
  • How do I follow the truth.
  • How do I keep showing up.

Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to be living the life I am living in a place where what I was doing:

Speaking as truthfully as I can

Questioning those in power

Living the life I want to be living

Having agency over how I spent my time

Choosing what foods to eat, books to read, newspapers to purchase, radio stations to listen to, art exhibits to see, dances to dance, gods to pray to…

was not allowed and had to be kept secret.

Would I have the courage to keep doing what I am doing now?

Would I shrink?

Would I stop dancing?

Would you?

This is a rant is a rant is a rant, and I don’t know what I am saying after two nights of wandering the halls in my pajamas.

All I know is that I hope that whatever happens, whatever transpires over the course of our time here on this earth, that we will keep dancing.

That we will not shrink.

That we will show up.

That we will feed and shelter each other.

That we will gather.

That we will build the fires, sing the songs, and dance the dances we are meant to dance.

“Movement is born of life’s breath. Don’t be shackled by conventions; just let go of yourself… You’re free to move as you wish.  What I want to see, though, is a dance in which you give birth to what’s alive inside of you.”

Kazuo Ohno

Your dance mission for the week is to:

  • Lie down on the floor.
  • Notice your breath.
  • Be curious about where you feel your breath in your body.
  • Imagine that all of your cells are breathing, because in a certain sense, they are.
  • Also imagine that you have little lungs in the palms of your hands, and that your hands are breathing too.






until you fall into whatever dance is in the room with you today, patiently waiting for you to begin.

You know I love hearing your thoughts about these rants, so post a comment, an idea, a dream, or a memory here.

And if you like what you just read, would you share it with a member of your family?

A distant cousin who you haven’t heard from in awhile, or maybe your Great Aunt Edith, who loved to go out dancing on a Saturday night.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending


I almost forgot!

The last performance of GOODNIGHT, COURTNEY LOVE happens this Saturday, Feb 27th at 7pm at The North Boulder Recreation Center.

I hope to see you there!




When my niece was in 6th grade, she asked her teacher about the constant whirring sound she was hearing in the ceiling above her classroom.

He said, with a wink, that it was the hamsters, who lived in the ceiling of her school, running and running and running, in their little hamster wheels, to keep the lights on in the classroom.

She missed the wink.

I missed the wink, and for a few days both of us were mesmerized by the vision of thousands of hamsters, running, to create a vital source of alternative energy for her school.

It was only when I wondered aloud about the intricacies of this innovative and cutting-edge method of keeping the lights on, that my ever intrepid partner Glen, steered me back to reality.

But sometimes:

When I am in that delectable state of surrender,

When I am waiting, noticing, and following the dance that is emerging, both from within me and outside of me,

When I hear the sounds of the world around me: a dog barking, someone talking on their phone, a baby crying, the clicking of the computer keys, the birthday party next door, someone making a deal with someone else, across an ocean,

I understand that it is me who is the hamster in the ceiling, running.

I understand that it is the dancers, painters, singers and writers who are the hamsters in the ceiling - running and running and running - making sure that the lights stay on.

Let’s be the hamsters right now, you and I.

You know, and I know about the fear and the greed that is taking hold of The United States at this very moment.

You know, and I know that this fear, this greed, has the potential to strangle and twist our humanity into something unrecognizable.

Let’s be the kind of hamsters that are willing to do the work of keeping the lights on, so that when it is dark, we can use that time to rest and dream, with ease, contentment, and tranquility.

I’ve got my hamster running shoes on, do you?

I’m gonna start my run how I always start my run these days:

By lying down on the floor to give my nervous system a rest, as I wait to be moved by a dance that I cannot understand, and will not know until it begins.

"May we all move freely some day in bodies that are authentic and vulnerable and valued."

— Margaret Harris, one of my first ever dance students, who began dancing with me 13 years ago when I first started teaching, who now lives in Wyoming, and who I miss terribly.

Thank you Margaret.

As I begin my hamster run this morning by lying on the floor, feeling my body against the earth, waiting to be moved, I will let this prayer wash over me, imprint on me, and descend into my bones.

Your Dance Mission for the Week is to put on your hamster running shoes, and wait.

Lie on the floor, notice your breath, and wait until you are moved to dance.

Wait as long as you need to wait.

Don’t hurry it along.

Don’t make it something it is not out of fear or anxiety.

Just wait.

The dance will emerge in it’s own time, and when it does - go.

Share this newsletter far and wide, so that we are not the only hamsters working to keep the lights on.

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

Pushing the Tipping Point

Oy vey. I’m in shut down mode.

You too?

The news, the feeds, the fights, the gluttony, the lack of vision.

The ignorance, intolerance, and idiocy boggles the mind and stills the blood.

That is why I found myself standing stark naked in front of the mirror at 3am this morning, wondering how to stop the descent and droop of my mammaries (tape? staples? string? a tiny little table underneath?) not because I actually care (fine, I care a little bit), but because it’s a distraction from what is really swirling around in my head, at this hour.

How fucking preposterous is it that I am wasting time worrying about what my body looks like when there are human beings, who share this planet with us, who cannot move freely through space, in the way that they want and desire (I apologize for using the word fucking. I try to stay away from that sort of thing in these rants, but I just can’t this morning. I’m too tired, too confused, and too flummoxed to find another form of expression right now).

That’s the waking up at 3am, and again at 4am, and then 5am:

I can move, however I want, whenever I want, in whatever way I want, drooping chest puppies or not.

I can explore, research, and take time to ponder the layers and layers of existence that reside within me and between the worlds, with curiosity and calm.

As a white, middle class, jewish woman, with heterosexual tendencies, living in a small mountain town of under 300 in the mountains of Colorado, right outside of “progressive” Boulder, I can move freely, with delight, awe, and intrigue.

I can follow the cellular unfolding that is taking place beneath my skin, with freedom and without fear.

I can be in relationship with the larger questions surrounding existence and being, with freedom and without fear.

I can gather with whomever I want, whenever and wherever I want, with freedom and without fear.


Why can I do all of these things when others cannot?

Yesterday morning, I woke up and thought about quitting the dancing and doing something that was…..what?

More relevant?

More impactful?

More to the point?

Then I went to teach my weekly class, and as always, I was moved beyond words, and become a giant puddle of goo on the floor as I witnessed the most elemental components of humanity revealed in time and space:

The emerging patterns, so like those found in nature. The back and forth of staying in integrity with one’s own internal experience, one’s own breath. The slow, and sometimes spontaneous, building of relationship; the breaking down, and building back up again. The sensation of movement, commotion and uproar, and then….stillness.

And I settled back, once again, into my role in this little life, as improviser.

Is it relevant?


To the point?

God, I don’t know.

I just know, that on some unseen and illogical plane of existence, improvisation, dancing, and imagination contain seeds of what needs to be practiced and refined to move this planet, and our humanity, forward.

We must find the cellular movement patterns in our own beings so that we can push into that tipping point and watch it topple over with a crash, so that all of us, every single one, can move freely in space and across borders, without fear.

Your dance mission for the week is to move from your cells for one whole hour!

It’s a total no-no to give you such a big “to do” in the land of email newsletters (I can hear the gods and the rule makers shaking their head in dismay. “Have we taught you nothing woman?”), but I think you can do it.

In fact, I know you can.

Here’s a song that goes for almost one whole hour:


Listen wisely, grasshopper, listen wisely.

Insight without action isn’t worth much, so take this time, truly, to dance.

Notice your breath, and let your cells lead you.

Let me know how it goes by commenting here.

And then share this newsletter with a good friend.

The kind of friend you spend hours with - talking and laughing, crying even, wondering about the world, and your place in it - together.

Then they can sign-up to get their very own newsletter from Joanna and The Agitators each Wednesday, right here.

With Warmth, Jivey Vibes, and Deep Gratitude to YOU:

Your continued readership, dedication, and inquiry keep me asking the hard questions.

Thank you for that.

xo Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

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


Pods of Goodness

Do you remember the second time we went to war with Iraq, after 9/11, when George W. Bush was President?

How horrifying that was?

How uninformed and brutal that action was, and still is?

Do you remember sitting in your kitchen when the announcement to enter into this war was made - way back in 2003, was it? - dumbfounded at the savage violence this country was about to inflict on the world in a way we could not even imagine —

Some people imagined.

Some people shouted at the top of their lungs to stop.   

Some people knew exactly what was to come from this war.

Do you remember that you needed to get to rehearsal that afternoon, and you just couldn’t do it that day? 

It made no sense, no sense at all for you to rehearse for a dance when the United States was about to embark on one of the worst and longest wars this country has ever engaged in. 

A war that is still going on to this day.

Do you remember the dream you had that night?

The one where you were recruited to fight in this war?

The dream where you got on the bus with your old mutt, Tess-Dog, to drive to the front line, with a machine gun strapped across your chest.

The dream where you were sick to your stomach, and Tess-Dog was whining and trying to get away.

The dream where she was clawing at your face.

In this dream, you stopped the bus that was on it’s way to war.

You stopped this bus, because you didn’t know what else to do, but you knew you couldn’t fight in this war.

You stopped the bus, and you stepped out of the door, with Tess-Dog pressed into your chest, still clawing at your face.

In your cowardice and in your fear, with Tess-Dog screaming in your arms, you jumped from the bus, over and into a ravine.

And you - I -  have that luxury, don’t I?

To jump.

To get off the bus.

To take my old mutt, and walk away.

I have the luxury to be far away from war and violence and terror.

Did you ever read Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing?

It’s about a utopian enclave that was once San Francisco.

This utopia is about to be invaded by the violence and degradation of the outside world.

The defense council, made up of a group of older, wise women, vision,  dream, and imagine the best way to defend their city, which ends up being focused on reminding and wrapping the opposing forces in their own humanity.

They do this by having all the townspeople line up, waiting to be killed, one by one, by the oncoming and invading army. 

They whole town chooses who will be killed first, and then second, and so on, by discussing the impact and importance of this each person’s role in the larger community. 

If the person isn’t so important to the survival of the town, they will be first in line to be killed (sort of like Survivor, huh?).

Guess who that is, that first person in line to be killed?

Yup, you guessed right.

The Town Dance Teacher.

Don’t even know what to say about that.


Each townsperson must make eye contact with the army guys who have the guns and are waiting to kill them. 

They must say hello. 

They must extend a hand to welcome the invading army to their town.

And one by one each townsperson makes the required eye contact, says hello, extends a hand, and then is shot and killed, until the men in the army go crazy and begin to slowly lose their minds from all of the killing.

They desert the army, seek refuge, and are taken in by the families of the people they have killed.

Bear with me now, as what I’m saying is connected to dancing, art making, embodiment, and imagination in a way that I don’t fully understand yet.

But I think it might be this:

When George W. Bush was elected for the second time, and there was a palpable sense of despair and wretchedness in the air, I asked a friend what I should do.

She replied:

“You’re going to continue to do what you do, which is to gather with your people.  You’re going to gather in small groups and large groups.  You’re going to dance, and sing, and listen.  You’re  going to vision, and dream, and imagine.  You’re going to feed each other, shelter each other, and help each other to rest. 

You’re going to continue to create pods of goodness.”

As I write this, the Republican Debate is gearing up and getting ready to explode into my privileged and entitled bubble of a town, Boulder, Colorado  

(I do love you Boulder, and I will be the first to admit that I love the bubble I live in, and the privilege and entitlement I am afforded by living here, for sure.

But man, we have a lot of hard work, discussion, and nuanced questioning to engage in as a community if we honestly want to be the forward thinking stewards of this planet, and all of her inhabitants, that we claim to be),

but back to the Republican Debate, and Dancing, and Art Making, and Embodiment, and Imagination and how all of this is connected:

I’m not a pollyanna in any stretch of the imagination (Case in point:  I mentioned to a friend that I was trying to work on having a more bubbly personality, and that I was also trying to keep some of my stronger opinions to myself, as that particular quirk of mine has burned some bridges in the past.  She laughed so hard she fell out of her chair — now that’s a good friend),

Pods of Goodness.

It all comes back to Pods of Goodness people.

I believe, in my strongly opinionated and unbubbly way, that we need to keep creating pods of goodness around the entire world, to counter the hateful, ignorant, and godawful trends happening right now.

As the dance teacher —who, if we lived in the future utopia that was once San Francisco, would be the first to be killed.  I’ve thought about this scenario a lot, and I’m okay with it.  I get that we need the farmers and the plumbers, the doctors and the engineers, the school teachers and the social workers before we need the dance teachers.  But please, if they kill me first to save our utopian enclave, take care of my dog and my cat for me will you?  The dog loves to be petted on her belly and on top of her head, and the cat needs to sleep on your face or she won't stop meowing —  my only pod of goodness to offer to you, is the dancing.

Dancing is what I know.

It’s the pod of goodness that I’m drawn to over and over again.

And, as I’ve said so many times in this newsletter, dancing continues to be the only thing I truly understand in this world.


My pod of goodness for to you today, as the Republican Candidates for The United States of America descends on the city that I was born and raised in, this city that was once funky and groovy and eclectic;  this city that once was affordable to all kinds of people, is this:

Become an investment banker or a corporate lawyer or own Crocs and then sell Crocs so that you can afford to live in this Bubble of a City called Boulder.


No bitterness here about the affordability of living in this town these days.

None at all.

(I can’t find an emoticon to place right here that depicts all of the confusing emotions I am feeling about all of this, so just imagine what that emoticon might be).

My pod of goodness for you today is this:

Yes, of course, it is.

Could it really be anything else?

The pod of all goodnesses, in any situation, is to DANCE.

Dance your heart out at the inequity, the fear, the ignorance, and the greed.

Dance your heart out at the terror that some face every day and every night.

Dance your heart out at the exhaustion of the refuge, the homeless, and the hurting.

Dance your heart out for all that we do not understand and cannot not even fathom, and then dance for all that we do.

I know I do not, on most days, have a bubbly personality because I am, a lot of the time, shy and unsure.

But that is not an excuse to stop dancing.

That is not an excuse to stop creating pods of goodness, however small they may be, to counter and to challenge the status quo; to counter and to challenge the lay of the land where some can not afford and/or are not welcome to rest here.

Your dance mission for the week is to create small pods of goodness wherever and whenever you can.

I have no idea what that will mean for you, but I am curious to hear.

Can you tell me about your pod of goodness here?

If you like what you just read, and it matters to you that others read this too, so that we continue to create pods of goodness throughout this entire world of ours, can you share this newsletter with a few friends?   

And then have them sign-up, here, to get this newsletter delivered to their very own inbox every single Wednesday of every single week.

With Warmth, so much warmth, and Jivey Vibes, so many Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

The Next President of the USA Needs To Be A Dancer

Politicians and their bodies.

Do I even attempt to dive into this pool of pariahs?

My first impulse is to cringe - I want to say no, let’s not even make the attempt - but it seems I cannot, for the life of me, stop myself.

So let us - as a brigade of madcap seekers - let us consider this:

What would happen if our politicians were embodied?'

But then I have to stop and reconsider immediately, because what does that even mean, “embodied”, and embodied how, and by whose standards, and by what authority?

For this particular conversation about this massive topic, with it’s inherent hypocrisies and inconsistencies, the lens which we will be looking through is my own.  

It is imperfect and faulty, stock piled with my own biases and sensibilities.

It is blemished and unrefined, influenced by my history and my experience on this planet.

I take full responsibility.

So imagine this:

The White House - with it’s bowling allies, movie theaters, decadent hallways, and fragile cups of tea - what, just what would happen if there were a White House Dance Studio, and dancing was a required part of the start to everyone’s day?  

What if?

Let’s take it one step further:

What if it wasn’t just any kind of dancing that took place in The White House, what if it was the kind of dancing that emerges from deep within the body, rather than from an already established form?

To be more specific, what if the dancing that took place in The White House was the kind of dancing where everyone took off their suits, their pantyhose, their high heels and ties, and instead put on soft pants and t-shirts.  

And what if all of the politicians and all of the leaders, and all of the people with all of the money who are making the decisions which corrode and corrupt a true democracy, what if they all lay down on the floor, together, and began by simply noticing the quality, the length, and the depth of their breath?

And then what if, from this place, they began to notice if there was an impulse to move, or not.  

And then what if, from this place, they choose to follow that impulse, or not.  

And then what if they continued on like this for some time: 

Noticing their breath. Noticing their impulse. Feeling their body in connection with the earth. Sensing the others in the room.

What would happen then?

Would decisions about health care, school lunches, net neutrality, gun control, Guantánamo Bay, the prison system, climate change - and so much more - would those decisions be considered in a slightly different manner, with a slightly different outcome?

Would greed subside?

Would intelligent and thoughtful consideration of all beings become more important than profit? 

Would we consider implementing a restorative justice system rather than sticking with the punitive punishment one we currently have?

Would every child’s well-being be in the forefront of every decision made?

I know this is a very simplistic view of an extremely complicated political situation, but I do think that the answer to all of these questions - and there are way more questions to ask - is YES.

If every day, or every other day, or even once a week, our politicians and world leaders put on their soft pants and lay down on the floor together to take the time to notice their breath leading them to their bodies, their creativity, and their imagination?

Then YES, I do think more considerate and compassionate decisions would be made, simply because there would be space to vision the world with the same creativity, the same imagination, and the same embodiment that those politicians felt for themselves, lying down on the floor in their soft pants.

Your dance mission for the week is to put on your soft pants and dance while you are watching, listening, or reading the news.  

Dance before the news.

Dance during the news.

Dance after the news. 

Let me know what happens here.

I am very curious, and will be waiting to hear from you.

If you like what you read, would you share this newsletter on Facebook?  

And would you share it with a friend? 

And would you encourage that friend to sign-up through my website so they too can get these emails every Wednesday?

Thank you so much in advance!

And OMG:  

The first class of the Fall Dance Session took place yesterday and it was so much fun.

The attention to detail, the clarity, and the cosmic curiosity happening in the room was magical.

The grit, grace, and humor?

Oh my.

it was simply a stunning beginning because of everyone’s willingness to show up, to wait, and then to relish in what unfolded.

There are only a few spots left in class, so if you want to join me, you still can.  

Click on this link to register, or email me if you have any questions.

And if you have a friend that might be interested, send them on over and I will get them all set up and ready to go.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending


"We ate the birds."

I had a dream the other night that the animals were pounding at our doors, demanding we give them back their land.The morning after I had that dream, I received an email from an old friend in Wales with this quote: “We ate the birds. We ate them. We wanted their songs to flow up through our throats and burst out of our mouths, and so we ate them. We wanted their feathers to bud from our flesh. We wanted their wings, we wanted to fly as they did, soar freely among the treetops and the clouds, and so we ate them. We speared them, we clubbed them, we tangled their feet in glue, we netted them, we spitted them, we threw them onto hot coals, and all for love, because we loved them. We wanted to be one with them. We wanted to hatch out of clean, smooth, beautiful eggs, as they did, back when we were young and agile and innocent of cause and effect, we did not want the mess of being born, and so we crammed the birds into our gullets, feathers and all, but it was no use, we couldn’t sing, not effortlessly as they do, we can’t fly, not without smoke and metal, and as for the eggs we don’t stand a chance. We’re mired in gravity, we’re earthbound. We’re ankle-deep in blood, and all because we ate the birds, we ate them a long time ago, when we still had the power to say no.” — Margaret Atwood I turned off my computer and thought of everything I had planned to do that day. I took out my to-do list, and in tribute to Margaret, I ate it. Then I lay down on the floor and started rolling slowly through the house: I rolled through the living room and kitchen and dining room. I rolled through the bedroom and the bathroom, and then up the stairs and into the attic. It was in the attic that I stopped rolling, and started waiting. For what, I don’t know, I was just waiting.

Nothing happened.

No movement came.

No inspiration.

No whirling dervishes.

No dancing.

I lay in the attic all morning: Nothing.

Except for this:

I remembered a story that my best friend and roommate in college, who passed away many years ago - told me one night on our porch while were still in school, and studying for finals:

My friend was hiking on Mt. Kenya with a group of 3 or 4 others.

The group heard a rustle and a roar.

They all scrambled up the nearest trees, but one of the guys didn’t make it.

He was gored and trampled by a water buffalo.

It was my friend who stayed with him that night while the others went to get help.

She banged pots and pans all night long to keep the animals away.

She peed around the perimeter of their tarp.

She boiled water.

She cleaned his wounds.

When he asked why his head was so cold, she didn’t know what to say.

He had lost a good amount of hair immediately after the attack, and there were large bald spots on his normally youthful head of hair.

She wrapped his head up in her t-shirt and tried to keep him warm.

She spoon fed him and helped him when he needed to pee.

She put pressure on his wounds - was it his spleen or his liver that got punctured through? I can’t remember - with her socks, and then her shorts. When those items of clothing got soaked through with blood, she used her underwear, to keep the blood inside of him.

When help finally arrived, when he survived to tell the tale, when the local press came to interview the group, someone else, another man in that group of 3 or 4, he took credit for all that my friend had done. He told the newspapers that he had been the one to stay up for two nights, banging the pots and the pans to keep the wild animals at bay.

When she finally cleaned her clothes of all the blood and wrung them out to dry, she crumbled to the floor and cried.

This isn’t my story to tell.

This is her story.

I wish she were here to tell it to you herself.

Your dance mission for the week is to roll through your house and then to stop for awhile and wait.

See what happens.

If something happens - a dream, an image, a story, a dance - that's good.

If nothing happens?

That's just as good.

Maybe even better.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes, Joanna of Joanna and the Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.ocm

So many PS’s today, I can’t keep count:

PS #1:



Will you be there??

I hope so!!

Tuesday, August 18th from 11-1pm Saturday, August 22nd from 10-12pm

Both are at The Boulder Circus Center

To reserve your spot, of if you have any questions, email me.

Feel to bring a friend along with you.

PS #2:


(I'm excited about this one too it seems....)

I'm just about done lining up the ducks, so I'll have all the info for you next week, if not sooner.

What I do know so far, is this:

Classes will be on:

Tuesdays: 11-1pm Thursdays: 11-1pm Saturdays: 10-12pm

The session will run from Tuesday, Sept 1st-Saturday, December 19th.

Notice it’s a 15 week session this time, rather than my usual 8.

This upcoming session is already starting to fill, so email me if you are interested, and I will make sure to hold a space for you.

If you’re not sure if the class is a match for you, come check out the FREE classes to get a sense of how I work -- see above. PS #3

Someone emailed me last week after receiving my last newsletter asking if it was okay if she shared the newsletter with a friend.

The answer is an overwhelming YES.

Share it with this social media phenomena that I don’t fully understand, share it through email. snail mail, or while sipping your afternoon tea.

The more people you share it with, the better.

As always, post your comments here, or email me directly.

You know how much I love hearing from you.

PS #4

That’s all.

Have a wonderful week.

xo jo


Last week, when I was staying at a hotel right across the street from Disneyland, I had a dream that I was having dinner with Sandra Bland and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

We spoke about the systemic racism in this country.

We spoke about police brutality.

We spoke about dying.

We spoke about what sort of letter Sandra would write to her children, and what sort of letter I would write to mine.

We each held up sheets of construction paper - white, brown, and black - against our faces and against our skin.

We spoke about that moment when I saw a brown man walking outside of the gates to Disneyland and assumed he was a worker there.  

And when two children with mickey mouse ears on their heads ran to him and jumped into his arms, I was surprised and ashamed that I had made an assumption about this man based on nothing other than the color of his skin.

Yesterday in class, we imagined initiating the movement from our skin, and we all wondered how to do that, and what it meant, and why would we do that and what did it matter anyway?

Today, I am far away from Disneyland, far away from my dream, and far away from these things that Sandra Bland, Ta-Nehisi Coates. and I spoke of while we were eating dinner together.

But am I really that far away?

I don’t know.

I don’t know how to answer that question, or how to even ask the right question.

All I know is that I keep smacking up against my ignorance and my illiteracy. 

And so I initiate the movement from my skin, and know that it means nothing.

I don’t know how to bring what I am saying full circle.

I don’t know how to wrap this newsletter up in a clever fashion.

I can’t find the symmetry.

I can’t find the center.

I think the closest I can get to giving you some kind of take away is…I’m sorry, I just don’t think there is a take away with this one.

Your dance mission for the week is to read.  

Read up on what is going on with Sandra Bland. 

Read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book Between The World and Me.   

Read the newspaper, listen to the radio, host a dinner party and talk about what is happening in the world. 

Help me find the take way from all of this.  

And then dance, and let this dance be initiated from the skin.

Feel free to pass this newsletter along to a friend, and then share it on your favorite social media platform.

Finally, make any comments you have here - you know my favorite part about sending this out each week is hearing what you have to say about all of this.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannandtheagitators.com


Upcoming FREE DANCE CLASSES happening on Tuesday, August 18 from 11-1pm and Saturday, August 22 from 10-12pm.  Both will take place at the Boulder Circus Center.  


natural disasters and the improvising artist, part 3

More than a dancer or a choreographer, I’m an improviser at heart. I love to see what arises at any given moment and to follow that reality for as far as it will take me.

Which might be dancing.

But it also could be singing, wrestling, continuously spinning, or moving heavy rocks from here to there.

It might be gobbling down my dinner with loud oinking sounds (that happened last night).

It might be growling the lyrics to Regina Spektor’s “You’ve got Time” when I watch Orange is the New Black (that happened last night too).

It might be lying on the floor in Andrew Marcus's School of Disappearance and moving so slowly that I can feel my cells expanding.

And yet when it comes to natural disasters, I don’t know if and how and when my improvisational instincts take over, and if they ever do.

I brought this question up a few months back after having a fantastic conversation with my good friend Jill Sigman when we were talking about how improvisers have a natural and innate sense of dealing with the unknown.

Which I think is true, but when it is that scary, charged and devastating, I just don’t know what is improvisation, what is adrenaline, and what is pure animal instinct. And maybe I don’t need to know, maybe they are all the same thing on some level.

A few months ago, I heard this on the radio:

There were two hospitals in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina that dealt with the flood in two very different ways.

One hospital improvised throughout the disaster and all of their patients were okay. It was hard and scary and unknown, but the staff just kept going, methodically and patiently, improvising their way through an untenable situation. In the end, everyone was fine.

One hospital did not improvise throughout the disaster, and due to an inability to “think outside the box” the head doctor there began ordering “mercy killings” for the hard to evacuate patients.

When I think about going through my own natural disasters, a fire in 2003 and then flood in 2013, I see my own inability to think outside the box — or to even know how to find the friggin’ box — and instead I just barrel on through as best I as I can, crashing through the chaos.

So I am practicing.

Practicing so that when the next Natural Disaster hits, which I think it will, I crash a little less.

Practicing so that I find the box this time and decide whether to step daintily inside, or to crush it with my bare hands.

Practicing so when I have to evacuate, I take the time to look around me and see what is there before it is gone.

Practicing so that I grab my hiking boots and the handmade quilt instead of the Oreos.

(During the fire, Glen and I didn’t take anything with us except for a box of Oreos.

We had enough time to pack up Glen’s entire van with all of our stuff from a 500 square foot log cabin.

We didn’t do it.

We grabbed the Oreos and left).

Practicing so that when the next Natural Disaster hits - or the next shooting happens, or the next time someone gets sick, or things crumble in a way I wasn’t expecting - I will have the where withal to understand that I am always stepping into the unknown.

And maybe this time I will crash a little less.


Your dance mission for the week is to lie down on the floor, notice your breath, and stay still for as long as you want.

If/and when you are ready, begin to move, and notice how you feel.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes, Joanna of Joanna and the Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com

is dancing enough?

I come back to this question again and again:

Is dancing enough?

On one level, yes, it is enough. 

It is the only thing that makes sense to me and it is the only thing I understand.

But on another level, no, it is not enough — not even close.

It has never been enough, because what is?


Setting an intention?


Believing in the Universe?

Watching Jon Stewart?

When I was in college, I got invited to be part of a weekend long dance intensive with some guest artists who were visiting our school.

That same weekend my best from high school had surprised me by flying out from Colorado to come stay with me for the weekend.

I went to my advisor to explain the situation and to see if I could miss a few hours of the residency since my friend was visiting and I wanted to spend time with her.

She said: 

“You have to decide right now if you want to be a dancer.  Because if you do, it has to be more important than anything else you do in the world.  It has to be more important than any relationship.  It has to be more important than your family.   It has to be more important than any friend you have, visiting for the weekend.

You must dedicate your life to The Dance!!!”

(Would it surprise you that my advisor had a small white dog with a small pink bow pinned to its small curly fur, who insisted on sitting on my advisor’s small little lap during our entire meeting? 

I didn’t think so).

It was at that moment that I realized dancing wasn’t enough.

It was something, a big something, but not everything, and certainly not big enough for me to give up everything else to pursue it.

So if dancing is not enough, then what do we do?

We keep dancing.

We keep dancing so that we can face this complicated, devastated, and radiant world.

We keep dancing so that we can see the world clearly and do our part to make it better.

We keep dancing — knowing that it is not enough — and at the same time, knowing that it is all there is.

How did your dance mission go last week of NOT DANCING?

Did you do it?

How did it feel?

Are you ready to start dancing again??


Because your dance mission this week is to dance outside, in the open air of summer, somewhere private, so you aren’t worried about being watched.

Listen the sounds around you, feel your feet on the earth, notice what you feel what you feel what you feel.

And breath.

If you are inspired, write a little something and post it here.

I always love hearing about your experience.


Last chance to sign-up for the summer dance session my friend.

If you have been thinking about it, toying with the idea of it, wondering if it is the right fit for you,  head on over to this link to find out more. 

And then email me, I would be happy to discuss it with you.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

I have been on Facebook all morning

I know, I know. 

I am the worst.

I am sitting on the couch, eating leftover spaghetti, in my pajamas, scrolling through Facebook, and enjoying the hell out of it.

Bad monkey.

Very bad monkey.

But look where I just landed  in my vast and intrepid Facebook travels:

Humans of New York:

“God sends me little moments all day long to say: ‘You’re not alone, brother.’

Just a little while ago, an old hunched-over Chinese lady smiled at me with the greatest warmth in her eyes.”

“And you think that was a message from God?”

“I think that was God.”

So, my little apricot,

this is the take away:

Notice the world around you.

Notice the little moments that make you sing.

And see God everywhere, whether you believe in her/him or not.

The sheer force of nature is enough to makes my hair stand on end and leaves me to wonder.

I am re-printing one of the very first newsletters I ever sent out.

It’s about Magic. It’s about the Force of Nature. It’s about Agitating Complacency.

Sitting here in my shlumpy pajamas, eating cold spaghetti, I re-read it myself, and I remembered:

And so, it begins. 

This epic journey  of finding our way back into the giant world of the body.

But how? 

By agitating complacency.

By letting ourselves lose our minds a bit.

By setting aside rational thought, to-do lists, productivity, and ambition.

By seeing magic everywhere.

For those of you in Colorado, do you remember the flood?  How everything shut down? stopped? got quiet?  then loud?  then super quiet again? 

And we were scared and unsure and frantic. 

But also AMAZED at the awesomeness of the water rushing through our towns.

We couldn't control it.

And so at a certain point, a magical quiet descended, as we were trapped inside our homes, peering out the windows at the water.

And there was nothing to do but wait, and see, and breath, and hold on, and then let go.

And I don't really know what I am trying to say here, except that there was a kindness, a generosity, an outpouring of love that moved through the towns.  Neighbors helped neighbors who had never really spoken before.  Families took in other families who had to leave their homes in the middle of the night. We helped each other carry pets, and babies, and kids, and grandmas across the raging river to get everyone safely into the helicopters. 


I think

What I am trying to say

is that to find our way back into the body, it means being kind. 

To ourselves and to each other.

And it means watching the wild and unpredictable and scary and AMAZING rush of this life

with curiosity


limitless wonder.

That is your DANCE MISSION for the next week:

Be kind.

Hold someone's hand who hasn't had their hand held in a long time.

Offer someone food.

Put on the music that your grandmother wants to hear.

Say hello to someone you don't know.

Ask someone to dance.

And then make a dance. 

A dance that is about seeing the world. 

A dance that is about being kind.

Or don't. 

Ether way, let me know how it goes, what choice you made, and why.

And then leave a note, post a response, send me your passion.

I want to know how what you are experiencing, feeling, understanding, discovering.

Share this blog with a friend, post it on your favorite social media platform, and DANCE DANCE DANCE.

Let's start to agitate complacency, together.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

road rage


Before I launch into my tale of the mortifying road rage that afflicted me last summer, and how that story, somehow, is going to wind its way back to dancing,

I  wanted to say THANK YOU to the Citizenry of Boulder who came out on the first night of Passover to see Goodnight, Courtney Love in the Leisure Pool at The North Boulder Rec Center.

It was amazing to see you all there, and to then get your incredibly constructive and valuable musings about the work.

Some of your writings made me tear up, some made me laugh out loud, and some made me scratch my head, stare out the window, and think about your words for a long time.


This is exactly what Laura Ann and I were hoping for:  a dialogue within our community about the process of creating a work in an unruly and uncontrollable environment.  

And we wanted you all there, right from the beginning, to see the work unfold and occur over the long haul.  

And now we are in it with you, for the long haul.

I can’t wait.

The next showing will be sometime in October of 2015. 

I’ll keep you posted.


Road Rage.

This is what happened:

I was driving, singing along to the CD in my stereo, which happened to be Krishna Das signing Kirtan chants about love and peace and joy and happiness and radiance and exultation for all beings.  

I’m chanting along, enjoying myself, when someone cuts in front of me.

Within seconds I pull up next to him, turn the music off, roll down my window, flip him off, and squawk at him in an incomprehensible and unrepeatable tirade.

Then I roll my window back up, turn the music on, and continue chanting Lokah Samastah Sukino Bhavantu, which means May all beings everywhere be happy and free.


I know:  totally crazy, deranged, and nutty as a fruit cake.

That poor guy, I’m sure he meant no harm.   

He was probably just late to work like I was late to work, all of us just trying to get to where we needed to be.

So, dancing?

What does this have to do with dancing?

I have no idea.

Except, maybe it has something to do with listening.  

Not just listening to the chants of love and peace and joy, but listening to our bodies listening to the chants.

Listening to the vroom of the car, listening to the way our elbows hang down from the steering wheel, the way we look out the window at the stop light, the way we check to make sure we have our clothes on properly.

(side story:  I was so late one morning, I jumped out of bed, put my shoes on, kissed Glen goodbye, and got in the car.  I was backing up in our driveway, ready to head to town, when I happened to look down and saw I had no pants on.  Just the t-shirt and underwear I had slept in, and the sneakers I had slipped on.  I ran back into the house and bumped right into Glen, who was holding my pants up by one finger, sipping his coffee and reading, waiting for me to notice that I had forgotten my pants).

I honestly don’t know how this story of road rage relates to dancing, or creativity, or imagination, or embodiment at all, except to say this:

I wasn’t embodied at that moment, or connected to my creativity in any way, even while singing along to these chants of peace, I wasn’t tapping into anything when I got cut off, other than a raw and vicious rage that was divorced from imagination, creativity, magic, and compassion.  

So, the take away from all  this?

I sheepishly want to say, that actually, that type of rage is the very foundation of creativity.  

The very foundation of imagination, embodiment, and innovation.  

Because it it powerful, and it is crushing, and it is merciless.


And if that power, that crushing power, is held, and reframed, and embodied?  

If that power, that crushing power, is occupied with integrity and compassion?

If that power, that crushing power, is grounded in generosity and big-heartedness?

Then what would happened?

That’s what I wonder about sometimes.

If we flipped that type of rage upside down and accessed the breathtaking strength of it rather then the viciousness of it, then what would happen?

Is that what a revolution is?

Is revolution too big a word for it?

If so, then what is the word?

As always,

I would love love love to hear your thoughts about this, and any stories you might have about road rage, or any kind of rage, and how you were able, or not able, to flip it on it’s head in a way I could not.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators


The adult dance classes just started up again this week and WOW, it has been amazing.  The beauty of the human body in motion, and in complete attendance, continues to astonish and astound me.

The Tuesday class is full, but there is a spot left in the Thursday class.

Email me if you are the one who wants to take that spot.




we will not stop dancing

A student of mine told me a story the other day that I just can’t get out of my head.

She was remembering a time when she and her husband were in Israel right after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a discotheque on a beachfront in Tel Aviv.

They were walking along that same beachfront a few days later when they came across a handmade memorial that said:  “We will not stop dancing.”  

So let's keep dancing.


Even when are scared or nervous or panicky.

Even when we are alarmed or skittish or chilled to the bone.

Even when we are frightened.

Even when our bodies do not work as fluidly as they did 10 years ago or even last year.

Even when we are hurting.

Even when we don’t know why.

Even when we had high hopes of becoming a supreme court justice or a prima ballerina.

Even when those that aren’t dancing, watch us and scratch their heads.

Even when that thing inside us says  “what good does it do?”

We will not stop dancing.

I was driving my 13 year-old niece home yesterday and she was telling me about a new musician she had just discovered.

She was crooning along to his songs, which were sad and melancholy…perfect for 13.

At some point she took a break and said to me:  “It’s just weird.  His songs are so sad and depressing.  But he is so happy when he isn’t singing.”

And I said “I think that makes sense though.  We all carry a certain amount of sadness just by being human beings, and if we have a place to express that sadness maybe it helps to lighten the load a little bit.”

She got very quiet and then said, “I think so too.”

Chalk one up for a blue-ribbon aunt/niece talk that didn’t have to do with who is getting the most subscribers on youtube these days!!!!


Let’s make a pact.

Let’s make a pact that we will not stop dancing.

We will not stop dancing At our desks in the office

We will not stop dancing In line at the grocery store

We will not stop dancing With the kids after dinner

We will not stop dancing In the living room after the children have gone to sleep

We will not stop dancing In the morning when we wake up, just for a moment before getting out of bed

We will not stop dancing At the discotheque in Israel and in Palestine

We will not stop dancing At the Mall of America in Minnesota

We will not stop dancing On the steps of the Capital Building.


We will not stop dancing When we are still and silent and hushed.

Dancing allows me to be human.

Dancing allows me to experience the world as an extraordinary place.

Dancing allows me to make a connection with this planet - not in a “woo woo earth/mother/goddess/priestess/recycling/prius/whole foods/full moon” kind of way - but in a “let me lie down and feel the curve of the earth beneath me so that when I stand up my movement and my interactions are influenced by that curve” kind of way.

Dancing allows me to be in relationship with others in a profound, rich, and meaningful manner.

We are part of each other.

Dancing reminds me of that.

Sometimes dancing makes me sad.

Sometimes dancing is incredibly frustrating.

Sometimes I need a break.

Sometimes I don’t understand it.

Sometimes dancing rattles me to my core.

Sometimes I lose my way.

And yet it is because of dancing that I am able to make sense of this world.

Your dance mission for the week is to lie down. To imagine the curve of the earth beneath you. To imagine you're body reaching down to the very core of the earth. To imagine the core of earth reaching up to meet your body. And when those 2 things meet in your imagination, notice what happens.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending www.joannaandtheagitators.com


What do you think about when you think about








the cold





What do you think about when you think about

Martin Luther King

Barak Obama 

Catherine the Great

Enrique Peña Nieto

Goodluck Jonathan

Harriet Tubman

MItch McConnell

Elizabeth Warren

Sojourner Truth

The Chief of Police?

And what would happen if all of these people took a post post modern/new wave/contemporary/experimental dance class?

What do you think about when you think about 

Wall Street



Guantánamo Bay


What do you think about when you think about gun control and gun violence and Columbine and Newtown and the little boy who shot his mother in Walmart when he found her gun in her purse?

One shot. 

2 years old.

What do you think about when you think about the dinosaurs going extinct in two hours in one day because their blood boiled in the hot sun when a meteor that was 6 or 7 or 8 miles long struck the earth and the sand became glass as it was thrown up into the atmosphere from the impact of the 6 or 7 or 8 mile meteor and when it came back down to earth it did…

something…that made the earth so hot that noting could survive and so                 ALL OF THE DINOSAURS DIED IN TWO HOURS.

Across the whole continent.  

2 hours.

Do you think that is true??

What do you think about when you think about 

Syria New Orleans Nigeria Missouri Yemen Chicago Nepal Russia Israel Los Angelos Palestine Alabama Kansas Idaho Boulder?

What do you think about when you think about Mexico?

What do you think about when you think about the oceans?

Did you hear about the cool thing that guy did to preserve the Coral Reefs off of Isla Mujeres, on the Yucatan Peninsula?

Artist Jason deCaires Taylor built life-size statues of people that he submerged below the water.

He did this so that the tourists would swim toward his statues rather then swim toward the devastated reef.

What do you think about when you think about


The torture report

Trickle down economics


When we were little, my dad took us to see the fireworks at Folsom Field in Boulder, Colorado.

Before the fireworks started there was an M.C who led us through simple and family friendly songs.

As we were singing these cheerful summertime tunes, my dad began to  mumble under his breath.

I don’t know what he was saying. I was having too much fun. I was concentrating really hard on my part in the "row row row your boat" round. I was singing as loud as I could.

And then the coolest thing happened.  

The M.C got the whole stadium to do the “wave”.

I had never experienced anything like that before.

 It was awesome.

And right as “the wave” was coming to our section in the stadium and I was getting ready to spring out of my seat and lift my arms into the air with everyone else, my dad stood up and shouted as loud as he could 

“Nazis!  You're all Nazis!  Can’t you think for yourselves?  Why are you following this man?  Who is he to tell you what to do?  You are like a herd of sheep.  Bah Bah Bah.”  (is that how you spell sheep sounds??)

And he took us gruffly by our hands and led us out of the stadium, muttering under his breath the whole time.

I looked back just as our section finished the wave and everyone was sitting back down.

I wondered if I too was a Nazi, or at least had the potential to become one.

Your dance mission for the week is to dance how you want to dance right now.

Just step away from the computer and move or be still or sway or roll or jump up and down,  but feel your body for a moment and dance.




Become the tourist who swims toward the statues that are submerged beneath the ocean.

Become the coral reef, quietly rejuvenating herself.

Become the chief of police and make some changes in the way you navigate spatial relations.

Move skillfully through the wreckage and

let the land find its way again so that we all have room to breath.

Here is a link to the website of a fantastic movie:  http://bit.ly/1yNpOlk

You can stream it on Netflix.

I think it says what I have been trying to say in a much more eloquent, succinct, and vibrant manner.

With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and the Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending

pay it forward

I took a workshop with Tim O’Donnell on Saturday that was luminescent and sublime.  

The dancing emerged from the colossal weight of the body in flight.  

And the flying happened in the air and on the ground and against bodies against bodies against bodies.

These are some of the things that were said at some point during the dancing and the whirling and the spinning:

“Dance so that you can find be found.”


I heard that, and my breath slowed and my bones unfurled in order to be open to the wind.

I saw a part of the world I don’t see so often.

You know the part I mean:

The part where the plants come up through the cement and the animals know to make their way to high ground when the water is coming in.

I was dancing with Chrissy and we came at each other in a way that was both fierce and tender.

And then Tim said:

“If you want to be seen, you must see.”

My breathing slowed even more and I became the animal making her way to higher ground seeing everything there was to be seen, even when my eyes were closed.

At the end of the day, I was dog-tired and exuberant.  

My hair was a mess (more then usual I mean).

Huge tangent:  

When my niece was in second grade, I picked her up from school one afternoon.  She got into the car, and with complete innocence and that pure kid curiosity she said: “Is that what they call a bad hair day Aunt Jo?”.  There was absolutely no judgement in what she was saying.  She was just understanding for the first time in her life what a “bad hair day” meant.

I was glad I could help clear that up for her.

And I didn’t care about my hair (apparently I usually don’t anyway), because that thing was emerging.

That thing that happens when I engage with creativity, art, and dancing in a way that is pure kid curiosity.

That thing about tapping into something bigger than me.  

That thing about swimming underneath the mundane and discovering the color, the light, the nuance, and the smell of the snow.

That thing that I fight for.

That thing that I long for and stay awake for and dig into with my bare hands.

That thing that I swallow whole.

The evening after the workshop ended, I went out to dinner with my family.

My mom, my sister, my niece, and Glen.

At the table next to us was a young family of three.

The dad was in his army uniform, the mom was young, maybe 22 or something like that, and the baby was just a baby who wouldn’t stop crying.   

Or screaming.  

There was more crying.  And then there was more screaming.

The mother lost her patience and pulled the baby into her, hard, and yelled at her, hard.

The dad kept reaching for the baby, sort of helplessly.

The baby kept crying and screaming.

When we were about to leave, my mom pulled the waitress aside to let her know that she would like to pay for the families meal.  She didn’t want them to know it was her, so to please be discreet about it.  She asked the waitress to just let the family know that this was someone’s way of thanking the dad for his service and his bravery.

And then she paid for their dinner. And we left. And that was that.

That moment was that thing also.

In some weird way, that moment was connected to dancing.  

It was connected to seeing underneath the surface of what was actually there.  

And I think that when we see, when we really see, between the spaces and the lines and the talk and the activity, 

that is when we understand how our bodies are connected to the earth,

And that is when we are able to find purchase so that we can fly.

Your dance mission for the week is to pay if forward.

Surprise yourself and do it without planning to do it, and do it without needing to be seen.

Just do it and then walk away and notice what happens to your body, notice how you feel, and notice your breathing.

Notice your feet making contact with the earth.

With Warmth,



Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending

my very first selfie

This is going to be a bit dark..and really weird. So if you don’t want dark and weird today, maybe just hit delete.

I have never told anyone this story and I have no idea why I feel compelled to tell it now. Maybe it feels like the right time because in class yesterday I saw something that brought me to my knees.

What I saw was simple and profound.

I saw a group of people who were present.

I saw a group of people being generous in their relationships - to themselves, and to those around them.

I saw a group of people listening. I saw a group of people dancing.


I know, what’s the big deal right?

The big deal is that sometimes I find dancing and art making frivolous in the face of everything happening in the world.

And yet today, in class, this group of people reminded me that creativity and art making are some of the only things that will sustain our humanity.

I know, overly dramatic.

But seriously.

What else is there?

When I was in college

(I told you about this place a few blogs back. This was the college where I had to take off all of my clothes and turn around slowly in my underwear as the faculty wrote down everything that was wrong with my body. My little revolt against this indignity was to scarf down a tray full of donuts at the next nutritional meeting in front of the dance faculty)

I felt unseen.

Which is strange, because I was being looked at all of the time.

I was scrutinized and inspected day in and day out.

But I was unseen.

I danced every day, sometimes for 8 or 9 hours a day with the faculty circling me like vultures.

Their eyes on my thighs, breasts, arms, belly, and ass.

But not on me.

I worked hard.

I did all of my pliés and all of my relevés and all of my round de jambes.

I stretched and leapt and practiced and honed and

worked and danced and worked and danced and worked and dance

and it was awful and soul crushing.

I hated it, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it stop.

And this is where it gets weird:

The only way I could imagine making it stop was if my legs got cut off.


What kind of person thinks these kinds of things?


I am the kind of person who thinks these kinds of things. I am the kind of person who imagines sawing her legs off with a knife. I am the kind of person who imagines dance studios filled with blood.



I said it.

I am looking up into the heavens as I write this and there is no lightening coming down to strike me dead.

There is no hand of god crushing me into the earth.

It is just little old me, sitting here drinking my tea, satiated after a morning of dancing, with both of my legs underneath me, ready to dance some more.

What changed, you might be asking.

I quit dancing.

For a very long time.

I didn’t think I would ever come back to it.

But then, there was a curiosity. almost like a calling, and I did.

I did come back to dancing. But this time under my own terms.

No one else’s rules.

And I started to see myself, since no one else was looking, and oh the freedom in that was enormous.

When I did start to be seen by teachers, peers, and colleagues, I was seen for my whole self.  I was seen for my whole being.


The dancing became mine again then.

My dark fantasy of chopping off my legs vanished.


And I love dancing on these legs of mine.



Your dance mission for the week comes from Steven Wangh. Find an old fashioned radio and a friend. One of you is the dancer, the other is the radio dial switcher. The dancers dances, the radio dialer switches around to different stations. Stations with classical music, news, country music, static.

Notice how you feel.

Notice your breath.

Notice when your mind gets caught in the words or in your opinions.

Let them go.

What does it feel like to dance to talk radio? To bad news? To static?

Most importantly, notice how it feels to be seen.

Make sure to switch roles.


With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and the Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending








natural disasters and the improvising artist, part 2

I am unsure of how to proceed with this question of adversity and creativity. The response I have gotten from people has been so profound, so beautiful, so heartbreaking, and so vast that I just don’t know how to begin.My own experiences with moving through two natural disasters, one in 2003 and one in 2013, feel small and “unmighty.” Things burned down, were swept away, and were lost. Things were then rebuilt, refound, and re-housed in a new configuration.

I survived.

My loved ones survived. I was incredibly lucky. I still get to live on the land that was burned and flooded, and now I get to witness an ecological resurgence and reconfiguration that is on-going and profound. I am incredibly lucky. Was it a pain the ass? A nightmare? A loss and a devastation?


Did it change everything?


And no. Last year, after the floods, my friend Jill Sigman was visiting Boulder as a guest artist at The University of Colorado. We were having Indian food at Tiffin’s and were discussing my experience during the floods and her experience during Hurricane Sandy. We were both intrigued and fascinated by all the different reactions and actions that occurred during these natural disasters. The fear that took hold of some and left them paralyzed, and that same fear that took hold of others and kept them moving. Why such different reactions? What plays into how we respond when our world is upended? And of course, this led us to talking about improvisation, because isn’t that what you would start talking about in relationship to fires, floods, and hurricanes? What we talked about was the unknown.

What we talked about was letting go of agenda.

What we talked about were the split-second decisions that get made while improvising - not through any sort of thought process that happens in the mind - but through a deep listening that happens in the body. The sort of listening that allows for engagement, presence, and acceptance of both turbulence and unexpected stillness. On Saturday, I taught a dance vacation up at the house. One of the students spoke about her fear and her hesitancy to engage with the chaos that is inherent in improvisation. She was comfortable and able to participate when things were orderly and followed a pattern. When that pattern was disrupted, she froze. She disengaged. She detached. Yes, I thought. Yes. It is that chaos of not knowing what will happen next, of not knowing where you belong, of loosing what you once knew and understood, of having what you love be swept away too quickly for you to grab hold of, and save. That is what freezes me and makes it impossible for me to move.

What unfreezes me is opening my eyes and looking around. Taking a step forward and feeling one foot make contact with the earth, and then the other foot doing the same. Noticing my inhale. My exhale. And the gaps in between. Taking another step forward, feeling my feet make contact with the earth again and again and again. What unfreezes me is rolling up my sleeves and taking the brick that has been handed to me, stacking it on top of the next brick and the next, and the next, so that I can rebuild the house that was lost in the fire, the flood, the hurricane, the tornado. Because honestly, I just don’t know what else I would do when everything I know and love has been destroyed. If you would like to share your story of how you unfroze yourself and began to move again in the face of adversity, I would love to hear from you. As always, you can email me. I love getting your personal emails, they make my day and get me excited to write again next week. AND if you feel an inkling to be more public with your story, I would love for you to post about your experience on my blog:


So. Let’s just take a minute to talk about this blog thing, ‘cause I don’t know what to do. This is what happens:

I sent out this newsletter to my email list every Wednesday. I get amazing responses in my inbox from you about your thoughts, feelings, disagreements with what I have written, challenges, questions, and curiosities. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE that. No one else, expect for me, gets to read your beautiful musings about whatever topic I am spouting on and on about that particular week. You know that I am not a technology queen: I don’t have a cell phone, I don’t text, I don’t understand Facebook, and I have no idea what pinterest and instagram are. BUT I do know that you have feelings, thoughts, and ideas about this blog and that it means something to you because you keep reading it. So. As someone who is not so excited about technology, and really wishes we could just start a Joanna And The Agitators Blog Group instead, where we all meet up at my house and I make you cauliflower and cashew soup, what can I do to help you feel more comfortable sharing your thoughts about what you just read on the blog???? The only reason I keep pushing this is that there is an AMAZING conversation going on, but I am the only one who is getting to participate because it is all coming through my personal email. What should I do?

Your dance mission for the week is simple (and not simple at all):

Notice when you freeze. It can be a little freeze or a big freeze. Notice when and how you get yourself moving again.


As always,

With so much Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators. sweetly agitating/persistently upending

some things are more important then dancing

On Monday I went to a vigil for Michael Brown. I stood very still and held onto my candle. I learned the difference between “murder” and “homicide”

There was a moment when the anger I felt almost knocked me to the ground.

But then I heard the phrase “revolutionary love” and I felt the earth shift beneath my feet.

The undertow of the conversation was about forgetting. Who has the privilege to forget and who doesn’t? Last night I dreamt that I was at the campus where the vigil took place. I was on top of the buildings and I was running. I kept slipping and sliding down the slanted roof of the building and falling into a black hole. I would climb out and start running across the rooftops again. I would slip and fall into the same black hole, over and over again. And then I would climb out and start running again. You know that I love dancing. But on Monday night I just couldn’t do it.

Something more important was happening. Today I will dance.

It will be a slow dance with barely any movement at all.

Falling slow from upright and descending deep into the bottom of time.

Do you want to do it with me?

This slow fall.


Start standing or sitting.

Feel the pull up from your head and the dropping down from your tail.

Rooting so you can rise.

Notice your breath.

Notice how you feel.

and begin to fall slow.

just let yourself sink and and descend and see where you land.

And come back to upright, and do it again. And again. And again.

Go down under and submerge yourself in what is there. See what you see


Notice what you remember.

With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and the Agitators.

what does it mean to be human?

This. This is what it means to be human. It means being in relationship with each other and the world around us. It means watching change happen with a spirit of inquiry. It means diving into the creative process of living. I am acutely aware that I have the freedom, the safety, and the privilege to live the way I want to live and to dance the way I want to dance based on the random fact of where I was born.

If I had been born somewhere else, I don't know if this picture would have been, could have been, taken.

When I think deeply about that, I get nauseous and dizzy. The simple act of dancing as a family is not a given in so many places in our world.

That doesn't make sense to me.

The power, The greed, The inequality, The cruelty, that shape so many peoples' lives.

It knocks me flat on my back.

And then the dancing is not enough. The creative process is not enough. Making art is not enough.


Until it is.

And it becomes the only thing to do.


7 days ago The United States Senate voted to confirm William D. Adams as the 10th chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

"Adams’s formal education was interrupted by three years of service in the Army, including one year in Vietnam. It was partly that experience, he says, that motivated him to study and teach in the humanities. “It made me serious in a certain way,” he says. “And as a 20-year-old combat infantry advisor, I came face to face, acutely, with questions that writers, artists, philosophers, and musicians examine in their work -- starting with, ‘What does it mean to be human?' " -- from the National Endowment for the Humanities newsletter.

It is this question that propels me to get up off of the floor and dance.

To dance with my family. To dance with my students. To dance with my community. To feel my freedom keenly in the dancing.


I was in grad school at Bennington College when September 11th happened.

I remember going to class a few days later and the professor said, "How can we dance when this atrocity has happened?"

I remember thinking, "How can we not?"

How can we not dance?

How can we not dance?

How can we not dance?

Isn't that the essence of what it means to be human?


I would love to hear your comments, thoughts, disagreements, and any opposing views regarding this question.

You can email me directly


You can go to this link and post your comments on the dance missions page: http://on.fb.me/1lWV46w With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and the Agitators