do-it-yourself dentistry

For the past two nights I have had the exact same dream:In the dream, I am the CEO of a very lucrative business called “Do-It-Yourself Dentistry” where subscribers pay $30 a month to learn how to fix their own teeth so that they never have to go to the dentist again. They receive dental instruments in the mail the first of each month as well as instructional videos every Monday teaching them how to hold a mirror in one hand, while scraping away tarter build-up in the other.

At 6 months, subscribers receive the Drill, and after a year subscribers get the Do-It-Yourself Oral Surgery Dental Extraction Kit. This is how my brain is dealing with the Presidential Election. How ‘bout you? But back to dancing: I received a postcard in the mail the other day from Linda Stonerock, who has been taking class with me since I started teaching waaaaay back in 2003. This is the quote she sent: “We reserve for art the power to transform, comfort, uplift, and inspire — to create in ourselves a state like grace.”  —- Jeff Macgregor, “The Art of the Impossible”. And this:  this is a video I recommend you watch, because I forget sometimes how much I love dance, concert dance that is done in an actual theater with thoughtful, intelligent and brilliant artists who are able to locate and place the work of dance in the broader context of current events and political activity. After watching the presidential debate on Sunday night I felt hungover, beaten up, and disoriented. It wasn’t until watching the video, especially the first few minutes, by the luminous Kyle Abrahams  and then reading the quote that Linda sent that I was able to come back to myself, and to remember who I am in the world, and how I am choosing to spend my time here on earth.

Your dance mission is a bit massive this week, so take your time, relax into what is unfolding, and notice what arises:

1.  Watch the video, especially that very first minute.

2.  Watch the video again, but this time dance with the dancers, in whatever way works for you.

NOTE: Don’t be a perfectionist right now!   Save that for the taxman.

Right now, all I I want you to do is to : Watch. Follow. Sense. Perceive. Listen.

Trust that you know exactly what you are doing and that what you are doing is exactly right for you. 

4.  Turn off the video and then dance, one more time. 5.  Get a drink of water and have a snack.

6.  Wonder about who you are in the world and how you are spending your time, here on earth while nibbling on said snack. Let me know how it goes, here or through a personal email.

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

PS: Dog Dance is now called Dog Dance Day Dreams and is happening on Friday, Oct 21st, 7pm at 1510 Zamia Avenue.

Looking forward to seeing you there.

xo jo


Are you in pain?

Is that why you aren’t dancing so much?  

Or is it because you feel:

  • Old
  • Achey
  • Ugly
  • Restricted in your movement
  • Lumpy and/or schlumpy
  • All of the above.


I hear you, I hear you, I hear you.


And you know what, that’s not a good enough excuse.

These things will change your dance of course, especially if you are in pain, but it doesn't mean you have to stop dancing all together.


You can feel all of these things — lord knows I do — and still continue to expand and unfold into your dancing life.


You can be stuck in bed with whatever it is you are stuck in bed with, and you can still be dancing.


So chin up buck-a-roo, it’s not over yet.


True, you may not be doing those barrel turns and back flippy things like you used to — though who knows, you may surprise yourself — and true, you may not be able to do that quick spin combined with a high leg kick anymore, but honestly, who cares?


It’s time to move on from that frame of reference anyway.


Yes, we live in a smooth skinned youth obsessed culture of gloss and perk that doesn’t allow for lumps and bumps, crooked lines, or tufts of hair -- anywhere.


This is all true.


However, if you are reading this newsletter, you obviously are not interested in the status quo.


So why let the status quo of aging stop you from doing what what you love?


Let me say one more thing before we get to practicalities:


This whole ugly thing?


It’s a killer.


It’s a killer of the creative quest you are on because the amount of energy you spend worrying about what you look like takes you away from the truth of the matter.

And that truth is that you need to be following your own imagination, regardless of what you look like on any given day.


You know what someone said in class last week?


She said:  “What a relief it is not to worry about whether or not I look cute in this class.”


You know what someone else said in class right after that?


She said:   “And I feel so ugly and old sometimes, I can’t concentrate on my dancing.”


And this, this is what we need to unpack.


Because who gets to say what is ugly and what is not?

And who gets to say what ugly even means?

If you can, let the ugly thing go.


You have more important things to focus on. I know how hard it is too slough off years of internal messaging about appearance, especially for women.  As someone who has always thought of herself as ugly, I do not say the above lightly.  I get that it is a lifelong practice to stay focused on your creative quest and imaginative unfolding, rather than on what you look like while doing it.


I get it.


But you CAN do this.


You can focus your energy on finding the truth in your expression and sensation, rather than on spending time worrying about if you are ugly or pretty, cute or beautiful, young or old.


Now, if what you are uncovering through your dancing is ugly and gnarled, if itis crooked and hairy, if it has thorns growing out of it’s spine, then, wow, what a magnificent and beautiful dance that is, because it is true for you.


Your being, your essence, and your outward appearance are not ugly, and will never be ugly,  for uncovering, excavating, and understanding an aspect of yourself that has been waiting to be found for a very long time.


Right now, while you are reading this, with whatever aches and pains you are experiencing, and no matter how lumpy you feel, notice your breath.


(Side note:  I feel particularly lumpy today.  My back is aching because I missed my appointment with my body worker person this week, I haven’t showered,  I’m still in my pajamas, I ate a pint of ice cream for breakfast and now my legs are restless and jittery from the bounty of sugar I consumed…..nonetheless, I am able to notice my breath, and so I do).


With each inhale, imagine your body getting a tiny bit bigger.


With each exhale, imagine your body releasing and sinking into the earth.


Now look at your hands.


Continue to notice your breath, imagining getting a tiny bit bigger on the inhale, releasing and sinking into the earth on the exhale, and notice what is happening with your hands.


Sense, see, and follow what is unfolding.


Let the detail and articulation of what is opening up in your hands envelop the rest of your body, with a deep respect for your own timing in the unfolding.


This exercise can be done in bed, the bath, while sitting at the kitchen table, taking the bus to work, or lying on the floor after a long day at the computer.

It comes from a beautiful email I received from Hannah Denison, who lives in Vermont:


“Just saw About Kazuo Ohno at a small space in Burlington.  Japanese man who got enamored of Kazuo and even though he never saw the old master dance, recreated his dances from films that were equally ancient.   In the Q&A he spoke of Kazuo’s fingers and hands and how intricate and compelling they were, how if he just focused on the movement of the hands, the rest of the body followed and expanded.  Also, he spoke about Kazuo’s son who was caring for him when he was close to death, used to lift him out of his chair from behind and stand holding him as he danced his last dances.”


We will all be in some degree of pain at some point.


If we are lucky, we will continue to grow older.


The dance will need to change because of these two things.

That is a beautiful and curious thing, and it should not be discarded:

"Let everything happen to you:  beauty and terror." - Rilke With a wish for you to step into whatever dance is waiting for you, hoping you will open the door.

Warmly, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending

Holy Moly

My jaw is on the floor.  

The response from last week’s survey was amazing:


I received emails from Colorado, California, The Pacific Northwest, Minnesota, Montreal, New York City, Connecticut, and Tennessee.


Nice job dancing queens!


I have enough material from all of you to read and consider your thoughts on dancing for many months.


With intimacy and honesty, you shared hopes, fears, delights, and struggles in regards to living this dancing life.


Thank you for that.

The next few months of this newsletter will be dedicated to distilling and then exploding open the answers you provided by looking at how your responses play into the larger context of dance and creative expression, and how that connects you to your own body, to those around you, and to the larger world.


“Freedom”, “presence”, and “connection” were mentioned over and over again, so we are good:


The foundation for discovery has been set, and we are ready to fly.


As someone mentioned in class yesterday:


We are nothing but a “wild rumpus of bodies in space.”


When we listen closely enough to that rumpus, we are able to “hear what is going on inside” every single one of us, and to proceed accordingly.


I want to leave you with a Dance Mission that comes directly out of this survey:


What to do when there is no one around with whom to dance?


Being alone in a space dedicated to dancing, and expecting oneself to dance in an allotted amount of time, can be daunting for some of us.


I have avoided this situation myself because it can leave me feeling empty, flat, disconnected, and yucky. But if there is no one around who I can dance with, that means I won’t be dancing, and that doesn’t work either.


So try this:


1. Dedicate a time to dance this week.  I would suggest setting aside 20 minutes to do this. If 20 minutes feels way to long, go for 10 minutes.


If 20 minutes feels way to short, go for 30 or 40 minutes.


You do what works best for you.


2. Email me and let me know when you have set aside time to dance this week.


3. When your time to dance rolls around, begin by letting go of all expectations, or at the very least, have low expectations.


4.  Situate yourself in a manner that feels comfortable to you, and then simply be.  Notice if any desire to move arises within you.  Be prepared that there may be no desire for movement,  AT ALL.


Well, that’s interesting!

And totally okay.


5.  Wait, notice, and continue to keep your expectations low.


6.  If no movement arises, If the desire to move is nill. If you feel like you are going to fall asleep, you have a few options:


1) Let that be:

This is information for you, and it is important information.  Don’t override it with your own an agenda of what dancing is, or what dancing is "suppose" to be.  Listen to your body's desires and follow that.

If this means you will be in stillness for 20 minutes, this means you will be in stillness for 20 minutes.

This is the dance that needs to emerge in this moment in time.

Trust it.


2) If the above is excruciating and/or unacceptable to you, try this:

If there is no desire to move, begin by noticing all of the micro movements that are occurring all the time within your being.

Begin to accentuate and hone in on the detail, rhythm, and quality of these micro movements.

Play with repeating these movements.

Make them a bit bigger.

Try doing the same micro movement in a different part of your body.

Notice where this leads you.

Follow the detail.

Trust in the detail.

Let it take you where it will.




So what.


Keep going.


Underneath boredom is that slowing down piece that most of us override, most of the time.


Wait, listen, notice detail, and go from there.


If you have the playlist I sent to you as a thank you for answering the survey questions, use that as a doorway into this dance, this dance that is already in the room, waiting for you step inside.


The first handful of songs are designed to help you drop in, drop down, and slow down.


Follow the detail…it won’t lead you astray.


Let me know how it goes, and share this newsletter, if you wish.

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


Quick Question

I have a question for you....well six actually! Would be willing to take about 10 minutes to participate in a quick survey?

Get me your answers by Mon, Sept 26th at 9am MST and you'll get a PRIZE:

A playlist of my favorite songs I use for dance class.

I’m working on getting a better handle on what you are experiencing in your creative life so I that can improve these newsletters and help you to reach your full potential as the weird and wondrous dancing fool that you are.

Here are the questions and you can email me your answers:

1) “My favorite thing about dancing is ______________”

2) “The reason I dance is because  ____________”

3) “The reason I don’t dance is because ____________”

4) “I would feel more comfortable about dancing if only _______”

5) “I would feel more free and at ease in my body if ____________”

6) “I am interested in (choose as many as apply):

Dance Imagination Creativity Embodiment Expression Presence Connection because _____________”

If you come up with a question that is more aligned with your own experience, then you can email me the answer to that as well.

I will leave you with a question,  and an answer,  which came out of the first week of the fall dance session that started last week:

“Am I allowed to feel this good?”

YES, you are.

Looking forward to reading your answers.

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

Are you Feral?

Last week, a friend called me feral. After we parted ways, she immediately sent an email explaining that when she said feral, she meant it in the “nicest possible fuzzy creature kind of way”, and she hoped I hadn’t taken offense at her remark.

No offense was taken.

A few months back, someone asked me where I teach.

I described the location, which is on the edge of town, in the last rural section of the city.

She said:  “Oh, you mean out in the fields?  That’s perfect for you!  That’s exactly where you belong.”

No offense taken there either, although I have no idea what she meant by that statement.

And so it goes, because to be perfectly honest, there is a part of me that doesn’t quite get the nuance of living in this world in a way that is expected and understood.

Most of the time I don’t ever think about this:  I am living and working, taking the beagle for her walks every day, and taking my nephew out for a hamburger and a drive in the mountains.

Minding my own business, basically.

But sometimes I wonder…am I missing something?

Is everyone else around me understanding, seeing, or getting something about this human experience that I am not?

Is that why I belong “out in the fields”?

I’m really bad at the elevator speech thing, and when I'm asked about what I do, I mumble something about dancing, and then try to change the subject as quickly as possible because the word “dance” is so loaded with people’s preconceptions, and I don’t have the language to break it down in a minute and a half while riding on the elevator.

I’m trying to get better at this though, and so the other night when a friend’s father was in town and he asked me what I do, I took a breath and repeated the elevator speech I have been working on, which includes the words dancing, improvising, presence, imagination, and curiosity,

The friends father latched onto the word dancing and said:

“So you and your friends come up with some dance steps that match the rhythm of the music your using?   That sounds like a nice way to pass the time. Good for you for finding something to do that you enjoy.  I bet you girls pick out great costumes for your shows.”








so I stammer,   “Um, no.  That’s not what I said, I….”

He turns to Glen -- who has missed this entire exchange -- before I have finished my sentence, and the two of them begin a conversation about Glen’s next furniture project:  two conference tables made of Claro Walnut.

I sip my bubbly water with lime and feel like the wife from “The Hours”.

As I continue to research and navigate my way through this dancing life, I am trying, in a huge and ginormous way, to be myself —totally —and if that means being feral, it means being feral, and if that means working out in the fields, than that means working out in the fields.

It is what it is what it is.

There was a moment, a few months back, after one of my Dog Dances, when I woke up the next morning and felt a kind of freedom I have never felt before.

I felt so solid in what I was doing, that I moved through those few hours with a lightness and a grace that I haven’t matched since.

I caught a glimmer of the power and freedom that comes from following what needs to be followed whether or not it “fits” into any expectations or societal norms.

In that instance the clamor of voices in my head quieted, and I dropped into myself.

For those few hours, I made my way through the world with an acute awareness of what was going on around me.

There was no judgement there, I was simply aware -- and I was feral.

Your Dance Mission For The Week is to catch those moments when you drop into your own “feralness”.

What does it feel like?

How does it show up throughout your day?

What do you perceive and experience in this state?

Let me know how it goes,  and share this newsletter, if you wish.


If you are in or around Boulder, CO this Friday, Sept 16th, stop on by and see the very first Dog Dance of the Season:

Conceptual/Directorial Guidance provided by:
Hosted and Supported by: Julie Rothschild of Floorspace

Dog Dance is a burrowing into the skin. It is a query into what lays in wait. It is a memory. It has always been there, underneath the dirt. Waiting to be unearthed, rooted out, remembered, and seen.

Friday, Sept 16th 7pm at Floorspace: 1510 Zamia Ave, #101. $5.

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

Middle Age

“Who you actually are, and who you think you are suppose to be — THE GAP BETWEEN THOSE TWO THINGS— that’s where disappointment and bitterness live”. I heard someone say this, I don’t know who, on the radio as I was driving home last Saturday night.

In fits and starts, with grunts of pain and howls of uncertainty, this gap is starting to close.

It’s getting smaller, every single day.

I think that’s what happens when one becomes “middle aged.”

Besides the fact that:

Perimenopause is now a word I use in day to day conversation. For the first time I am having pain in my body that I can’t ignore and shake off like every other pain I have ever had. A little girl said, “Excuse me. You, with the old lady hair” the other day, and it took her saying it 3 times before I realized I was the one with “the old lady hair”. I had a pile of dirty laundry I almost dropped into the toilet rather than the laundry basket this morning. I can’t read ingredients, menus, or instructions without squinting,

Besides all of that, I think that swimming in the age during this middle time has been quite a relief, precisely because this gap between “who I actually am” and “who I think I am suppose to be” is getting smaller.

In dancing, this means I am following a thread of curiosity that is unspooling before me from a place that is so deep inside of me that the thread is not actually coming from me.

It is coming from a much more intimate place than that.

In a certain sense this thread I am following, it has nothing to do with me or my body or the space surrounding me.

Instead, I think it has to do with what’s been forgotten.

It has to do with what’s been brushed over and left behind.

I have been told over and over again to stop moving the way that I do:

To stop dancing this way, or that way. To speed up, or slow down. To hold that line. To look up and out, rather than down or in. To stop dancing all together, it’s just not in the cards.

I’ve listened. I’ve nodded. I’ve followed all of the above in one way or another.

But in this middle age of mine — with my aches and pains, my grey hair and my eyes that can no longer read the fine print — I am unable to follow this advice any longer, precisely because it cuts to the core of who I actually am as opposed to who I am suppose to be.

I’m doing what I’m doing in the way I am doing it because it is exactly who I am at this moment in time, and I am unable to make any compromises regarding who I am, what I am interested in and intrigued by, and what I value in this life any longer.

That part of myself that used to be able to comply and bend to meet someone else’s expectations of me?

She has left the room and she isn’t coming back.

But the part that has stayed?

She is listening as closely as she can to what is bubbling up and arising, within her and outside of her.

And she is following that, no matter what, and no matter where it leads, because a world is being created that has never been created before.

But maybe that's wrong.

Maybe that world has been created over and over and over again, and it is only now that she has the patience and the where with all to experience it and take it in, as is.

She is following this slow unfolding of a new world or an old world, whichever it may be, because it feels like running naked, in a warm rain, in the hills and among the wildflowers, when no one else is around, on a summer afternoon, forever and ever.

That’s the part that has been forgotten.

That’s the part that has been left behind.

So this dance, it is about remembering.

Your Dance Mission for the Week is to find those parts of yourself that have been forgotten and brushed aside.

Give those parts the space and time they require to bubble up, arise, and unfold in whatever way that they do. to create a new world or an old world, for as long as it takes to create.

Follow the making of this world with curiosity and breath.

Notice if the gap between who you actually are and who you think you are suppose to be, notice if it begins get smaller.

And then, let me know how it goes.

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

PS! ONLY ONE MORE FREE DANCE CLASS UNTIL NEXT YEAR! Tomorrow, Thursday, Sept 8th from 11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center.

Sign up to Dance with me in the fall Fall session runs from Sept 13th-Dec 15th, 2016

Dog Dance: The 3rd Friday of every month starting in September. The first one is on Friday, Sept 16th at 7pm at  Floorspace: 1510 Zamia Drive, #101. $5

xo jo

A little bit of this, a little bit of that

Linda Stonerock, who has been in class with me since the beginning, sent this poem to our class recently:

Ars Poetica By Leslie McGrath

To have

even a

lotto chance

of getting


within yourself

you don’t quite know

but feel

To cling

to the periphery

through the constant


re-drawing of its


To make

what Makers make

you must set aside


Leave it

a lumpy backpack

by the ticket window

at the station

Let the gentleman

in pleated khakis

pressed for time

claim it

The certainty

not the poem.

Then Glen showed me his newest creations a few days later:FullSizeRender (5)

The watermelons he is growing in the greenhouse he built, and a media cabinet, recently completed, made of Walnut and Karelian Birch.

FullSizeRender (6)

Photos of the Media Cabinet by Tom Sundro Photography, 2016 (If you want to see more of Glen's work, go to or go to kalenwoodworks on Instagram).

I look in awe -- at both the watermelons and the media cabinet -- at what a maker can make when they are able to leave that "lumpy backpack by the ticket window at the station."

And then THIS:

I got this email from Jill Sigman, and sheesh!

I though I might explode from the wonder of human beings doing the work of "setting aside certainty" and moving forward from that place.

I had the pleasure, the honor really, of working with Jill in NYC last month.

I was lucky enough to witness Jill in the midst of her creative process, making her way through an intricate maze of thought, imagination, and social & political query.

Jill and I worked at Lehman College, in The Bronx, where Jill has a residency through the CUNY Dance Initiative, and where Johannah Franke — who like Linda, has been in class with me since the beginning — taught Modern Dance for over two decades.

(I love this modern dance lineage that circles around, again and again, from The Bronx to Boulder and back).

For now, I've stopped watching the news, scrolling through Facebook, reading the NYTimes, etc., and instead am keeping my eyes and ears open to the inspiration, the courage, and the wisdom of those that are making, creating, building, shaping, generating, and bringing into being all that is true.

I'll get back to the news soon, but right now I want to focus on the beauty and the splendor of setting aside certainty.

Joanna, your dance mission for the week is to set aside your own certainty, again and again.

Put the lumpy backpack down.

Let your bones and your cells reorganize themselves in the face of not knowing.

Watch, notice, listen to what emerges, and follow it to the end.

Let me know how it goes.

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


Free Dance Classes are Next Week! Tuesday, Sept 6th and/or Thursday, Sept 8th from 11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center.

Email me you plan on being there, and feel free to bring a friend along.

Sign up to Dance with me in the fall: Fall session runs from Sept 13th-Dec 15th, 2016

Dog Dance: The 3rd Friday of every month starting in September. More Info Coming as we get closer to the start date.

xo jo

Learning to Sleep

I have a history of insomnia.

Insomnia that at one point got so bad, I stopped driving for fear of falling asleep at the wheel.


Instead of driving. I rode my bike up and down the mountain every day.


I was on a sleep restriction program during that time, and could only be in bed for 5 hours.


I had to get up at the same time every morning, even if I had fallen asleep only 30 minutes prior.


My time to be in bed was from 11pm-4am.


During those 5 hours, I was up and out of bed again and again since a large part of sleep restriction entails getting out of bed if you are not falling asleep after 10-20 minutes of lying in bed.


You are told to get out of bed and read, fold laundry, knit, etc until you are tired enough to go back to sleep.


The grueling discipline of being on a sleep restriction program was surprisingly exuberant, and dare I say, uplifting.


Ironically, it restored a sense of curiosity and wonder for me during a time when I had lost any recognition of myself in the world.


The program itself was brutal, but there was something about it that was profound.


I think it was the acceptance piece of it.


Cultivating trust for a process that retrained my body to sleep again allowed me to laugh at the absurdity of it, notice shifting patterns around it, and wonder about the whole gosh dang thing.


To be held, so tightly, by an exquisitely versed doctor who guided me through a period of excruciating exhaustion, only to lead me out the other side so I was eventually sleeping solidly for 8 hours a night?


That was a glorious thing.


That time of being on a sleep restriction program went something like this:


Glen would be sleeping soundly while I was in and out, of bed all night long.


I would climb into bed at 11pm.


Then I would feel that awful agitation and anxiety creep up on me.


I would get out of bed and clean the kitchen, sweep the floor, or dust the bookshelves until I could feel myself nodding off.


I would crawl back into bed and just as I was falling asleep, a jolt of anxiety would wake me up again, so I got out of bed once more.


This time I would tackle the bathroom or the closets or the attic.


(An aside:


I am a messy, messy person by nature.


During this period of time, my house was so clean you could lick pudding off the floor and roll naked through the halls).


I would finally fall asleep at around 3 or 3:30am.


My alarm would go off at 4am.


I would leap out of bed and immediately start doing jumping jacks so I wouldn’t fall back to sleep.


I would run until 5:30 or 6am every morning before getting on my bike and heading to town.


Moving my body and getting out of the house was the only thing I could do to keep myself awake during the day.


After the first 6 weeks, I got to extend my time in bed to 4:15am.


That first change to my sleep schedule called for a huge celebration, so Glen and I had a huge party at the house.


A few weeks after that, I got to extend my time in bed until 4:30am.


I slowly kept adding 15 minutes to my wake-up time until I was sleeping soundly for a full 8 hours every single night.


Sometimes I even slept for 10 hours a night.


I fell madly in love with the doctor who led me through and guided me out the other side:   The doctor who promised me that one day instead of saying “I suffer from insomnia” I would say, “I have a history of insomnia”.


This doctor is really good with boundaries, so when I told her I was in love with her and brought her a bouquet of flowers and a box of chocolates, she activated those well honed boundaries and declined my gifts -- and my proclamation of love -- with grace and care.


We parted ways, and there was good cheer all around.


I have spoken with her recently because I am struggling with sleep again.


It's not as bad as it was the last time.


I am currently struggling with a common sleep pattern that I have heard happens to many women my age whose hormones are fluctuating.


With one 15 minute phone call, she got me on another, much less rigorous, sleep program called Stimulus Control.


I am already sleeping more soundly, and for longer periods of time, after only 3 nights of participating in the program.


It feels good though, to be reminded of what happened all those years ago.


How dreadful it was:  not sleeping for all of those years;  how barbaric the sleep restriction program sounded when I first heard about it;   and, the surprise of tenderness, and honestly glee I felt at times, while moving through it.


It’s rare to find those kinds of doctors, teachers, lovers, friends, and leaders who walk us through the fire, and are then able to stand with us as we come out the other side, refreshed and fortified.


So here’s to those who are able to walk us through and who hold the line with respect and integrity.


Here’s to those who know that a firm but gentle hand is needed when the fire is burning -- white hot.


Here’s to those who know when we need a little push to get us through a bad night.


Your Dance Mission for the Week is to dance.


Just dance.


However you want, whenever you want to.

Sometime this week, make space to dance.


With Warmth and Vibey Jibes, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending Here are the PS’s for the day: Free Dance Classes Coming Up Soon! Tuesday, Sept 6th and/or Thursday, Sept 8th from 11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center.

Email me you plan on being there, and feel free to bring a friend along. Sign up to Dance with me in the fall  Fall session runs from Sept 13th-Dec 15th, 2016 Dog Dance: The 3rd Friday of every month starting in September. More Info Coming as we get closer to the start date.

xo jo

The Hamsters Are Back

When my nephew was in 6th grade, he asked his teacher about the constant whirring sound he was hearing in the ceiling above the classroom.  

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


My nephew 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 his 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."  Said Margaret Harris, one of my first ever dance students, who began dancing with me 13 years ago when I first started teaching.

Margaret moved to Wyoming a few years ago, and I miss her terribly. 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 Margaret’s words 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

PS's for Today:

Free Dance Classes Coming Up Soon! Tuesday, Sept 6th and/or Thursday, Sept 8th from 11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center. Let me know if you plan on being there, and feel free to bring a friend along.

Sign up to Dance with me: Click here. Dog Dance: The 3rd Friday of every month starting in September. More Info Coming as we get closer to the start date.

xo jo

The Ugly Dance

Yesterday in class we were discussing the idea of “ugly dances” and what that actually means.

Agness said this great thing, which was this:  “Beauty and grace can be natural, but ugly is more natural.”

I love that.

I told you awhile back about being on this “making a dance movie” rafting trip I took in the Grand Canyon awhile back, and how the photographer, the male photographer, kept saying to the dancers whenever we did a photo shoot:  “Extend everyone, I want to see a pretty line”.

Mind you, all of the dances and photo shoots took place on jagged rocks or in rushing white water, or while balancing on a cliff or climbing up the side of a canyon wall, so making “a pretty line” or “extending” was not the priority.

It was not the truth of the experience in that particular situation.

Being the ornery and rather bratty sort of human being that I am, I ended up ignoring the photographer and not getting into any of the photos or the film because “extending my body and making a pretty line”  especially for the male gaze…it’s just not in my DNA, and it isn’t what I care about.

It’s a problem sometimes, for sure.

But back to ugly…

What is ugly, honestly.

Who gets to decide?

And what does that even mean?

Sometimes I think we confuse the word ugly with what’s actually true.

And if it’s true, and if it’s expressed through a spirit of inquiry, then there is no ugly.

The uncharted territories of dance that take us to the edge of what we know and leave us hanging…I understand why we might perceive that as ugly.

Maybe it’s not in the lexicon of our understanding.

Maybe it’s different, or peculiar, or odd.

Maybe it’s a part of ourselves that we have been hiding, the most natural and human part of ourselves, that’s been hiding in the guise of pretty lines and extended bodies.

The teachers that have influenced and shaped me the most have simply provided a space for me to remember who I am.

They have guided me in unearthing those parts of myself that have been lying in wait.

They have helped me excavate and uncover exactly who I am….and that includes ugly, and messy, unkempt, and undone.

What excites me about dance is the humanity of it. 

The sweat, the struggle, and the lumpy mess of it. 

It’s ugly and it’s pretty, it’s surprising and it’s delightful, it’s deep and dark and murky, but most of all, it’s honest.

That’s what I care about in dance, when I’m doing it and when I’m observing:

The honesty of the human body in time and space;  taking on forms that disintegrate and reemerge, again and again and again.

Your Dance Mission for the Week is to do an ugly dance, whatever that means to you.

Email me or tell me how it goes here.

With Warmth, With Jivey Vibes, With a toast to the ugly dance in every single one of us,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

That's so weird!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the word weird lately. A friend and I were talking about it recently, and it got me wondering about what the word weird actually means, especially because I am someone who has always thought of herself as weird.

My dance work has been described as “weird” and the way I shape my life and move about in the world…its a little weird.

I’ve skirted the edges of the mainstream since I can remember, so using the word “weird” has always been the easiest way to describe my existence, at least in my mind.

But I think I have it all wrong in the way I am using the word.

I just looked it up on the computer, and skipping over all of the definitions that have a negative connotation, like: abnormal, crazy, eerie, and freakish, my eye is instead landing on the use of the word weird as a noun:

A person’s destiny.

Well, that’s interesting.

I like that definition rather than this definition:  “inducing a sense of disbelief or alienation in someone”, though I have to admit, my way of being in the world has done just that now and then, depending on who I am with and what the circumstances are.

It’s odd now to be revisiting the word weird, because in a certain sense, my life is becoming less and less weird, and more and more….uh….normal?

I’m still skirting the mainstream, I think I always will, so that hasn’t changed.

I’m shaping my life and moving about as we all do, with fits and starts, expanding and then contracting.

But I don’t feel weird….at all.

And as I said before, I used to feel weird all the time…it was the first word I would use to describe anything I was engaged in.

And now…. I don’t know if I would use that word so readily, only because I don’t actually care anymore about what the outside world thinks.

Because for right now at least, I’m at peace with what I’m doing.

I’m joyfully settled into this routine of dancing and teaching, which is new and surprising every single day.

I’m joyfully settled into this routine of spending time with my family and my friends, and watering the plants at my house, and baking chocolate chip cookies, and taking the beagle on a walk every day.

From the outside, my life and my work may appear to be “weird” (Recently I was part of a group of people had never met before.  We had to do that thing where you turn to the person next to you and introduce yourself.  I loved hearing about the person next to me did, which was teaching speech and debate at the University - my favorite subjects in college outside of dance — and when it was my turn to say what I did, I described the dance classes I teach and the work I am doing with Andrew for Dog Dance,  her smile began to fade.  She nodded curtly, when I finished and then turned away and began talking to someone else…oh well, can’t win ‘em all!)

To me though, the way I live my life and show up in the world feels perfectly normal.

If I were to use the word weird, I would now use it more like this version, the one my eye landed on a few minutes ago:

A person’s destiny.

If that is the definition of weird, than yeah, I guess I’m weird.

I feel pretty darned lucky to be able to say that.

With Gratitude to my students, who show up every day and are willing to drop down into the unknown, with courage, perseverance, and delight.

I could not be doing this work without you.

Your Dance Mission for the Week is to think about, notice, contemplate, your own definition of the word weird.

I'd love to hear your thoughts about this, so feel free to email me or post your comments here.

With Warmth, Joanna of Joanna and The Agitators

And the PS’s for today are:

PS PS PS!!! 1. There is still one spot left for The Dance Vacation happening on Saturday, August 13th! Do you want to take this last spot? I would love it if you did. Email me.

2. FREE FREE FREE DANCE CLASSES IN SEPTEMBER: Tuesday, Sept 6th and Thursday, Sept 8th from 11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center. Come join me, and feel free to bring a friend.

3. This Fall: The Anatomy of Improvisation Fall Classes are filling up (whaaaaat?? it's only July!!), so consider signing-up soon!!

4. Dog Dance is happening again soon.

The 3rd Friday of every Month, starting in September:

Friday, Sept 16th: 7pm Friday, Oct 21st: 7pm Friday, Nov 18th: 7pm Friday, Dec 16th: 7pm

At Julie Rothschild Floorspace. 5$ Looking forward to seeing you there.

xo jo


Yes. I'm saying yes.


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.


Nothing happened.


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.


You must.


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 of Joanna and The Agitators sweetly agitating/persistently upending


This past Saturday I hosted and facilitated a Dance Vacation up at my house.

After the dancing, we were all sitting in the courtyard together, looking out across the valley, talking, sharing, schmoozing, laughing, eating.

Abi said:  “Uh-oh, I see smoke.”

I said:  “Oh, it’s nothing.”

Abi said: “I don’t think so, I think there’s a fire…a big one.”

I said:  “Na…it must be a controlled burn.  No need to worry.”

“On a hot and windy day, in the middle of the summer, you think they would schedule a controlled burn?

“Sure! Why not?  Pass the Kale Salad please.”

And we went back and forth like this for a few minutes, Abi concerned and correct in her assessment, me being in complete denial about the situation unfolding before us.

There is a fire that is currently blazing across the valley from where I live that started on Saturday, as Abi observed.

8 homes have been destroyed at this point, and I heard a few pets have been lost in the flames as well.

As this fire was burning, right in front of me,  I sat in denial and stubbornly refused to acknowledge what was going on.


What happened to my brain at that moment?

Why could Abi see the event clearly, and I saw it in a haze of denial?

I have no idea.

I’m embarrassed that I was more focused on the kale salad than on the smoke billowing up in front of my eyes.

I keep thinking I need to email everyone who came to the Dance Vacation to let them know I made a mistake about the fire, that I should have jumped up out of my seat when Abi saw the smoke to check the website you check for these sorts of things and then confirmed that yes, there was a forest fire burning across the valley from where we sat, peacefully eating our lunch.

But I didn’t do that.

I shrugged.

I changed the subject.

I ate more kale as the fire burned.

I teach a once a week dance class in the day care center at the gym I go to, as a trade for my membership there.

The other day, as I was gathering the little ones in a circle, I overheard of one of the older kids who comes to my class each week - she’s about 5 years-old I think - say to the 2 and 3 year-olds:  “Hold onto your hats guys, she’s a funny one” and all these little eyeballs turned toward me, waiting to see what would happen next.

That made me laugh, because I love that she said “Hold onto your hats”,  but it also made me wonder:  Am I a funny one?

I don’t feel so funny these days.

I feel subdued and unsure.

I feel disconcerted that I didn’t listen, see, and take in what was unfolding right in front of me on that Saturday.

I open my kids class at the gym the same way every time I teach: 

I point to my nose.

The kids all point to their nose.

I say “Point to your elbow.”

The kids all say “That’s not your elbow!  That’s your nose!” 

I say, “This is my nose? Are you sure?” 

They say “Yes silly, that’s your nose. This is your elbow!” and then they point to their elbows.

One day I had a 6 or 7 year old in class who had never been there before.

As the nose/elbow routine was unfolding, he whispered to himself “What an idiot”, eyeing me suspiciously.

It took every ounce of energy not to turn to him, and say “I know where my nose is Mister.”

I didn’t though, I held it together, and continued on with our game.

I saw the larger picture, and did what was necessary to keep the group moving forward, making sure not to take time away from class to calm and validate my own self that was a tad off center after being called an idiot by a 6 year old.

I wasn’t able see the larger picture with the fire.

I wasn’t able to see anything at all.

I chose to put my blinders on and to keep my head down.

I chose to eat my vegetables and got on with the day.

When a little bit later it became clear that there was a full fledged forest fire burning across the valley, I slumped down and stopped all life activities for a little bit.

I made myself remember our fire, the one that happened in 2003.

The one that burned down our cabin, and Glen’s shop, and the land the land the land.

I made myself remember and remember and remember.

After remembering all I could remember, I emailed everyone I knew across the valley, to see how they were, to ask what they needed, and to make sure they were okay.

My next email will go out to everyone who was at the Dance Vacation this past Saturday saying, “I don’t know what happened.  I couldn’t bring myself to see the smoke clearly that day.  I’m sorry I ignored your concerns.  I wish I had seen what you saw, and acted accordingly instead of flippantly pretending the billowing smoke was nothing at all to be concerned about.”

One day at the gym, when I was doing the whole nose/elbow shctick, I said to the kids, “How did you all get so smart?”

One little boy answered:

“I really don’t know, because my dad? He’s not smart  AT ALL.  He misses a lot of stuff.”

That’s how I felt on Saturday….Not smart AT ALL, and missing a lot of stuff.

Stubborn and bullheaded, yes.

But not smart.

Your Dance Mission for the Week has nothing to do with fires, or noses, or elbows.

It has to do with doing a dance on your couch.

I like to start with my head hanging down off the couch, and my legs up in the air. 

I notice my breath, feel my body against the soft cushions, and wait to see what emerges. 

I also like to slither and slide off the couch, and then figure out how to slither and slide back up. 

I like to kneel on my knees on the arms of the couch, and then fall face first into the pillows.

What do you like to do?

You can tell me here.

Or email me.

I love getting your emails.

With Warmth and Jive Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

PS PS PS PS:  Tons of Upcoming that is Coming Right Up, so Mark your Calendars!

DANCE VACATION:  Saturday, August 13th, 9am-3pm, at my house in Jamestown.  A few spots left, so email if you are interested.

FREE DANCE CLASSES:  Tuesday, September 6th and Thursday, September 8th.  11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center.

FALL DANCE CLASSES:  Sept 13th-December 15th, Tuesdays and/or Thursdays.  11-1pm, at The Boulder Circus Center.

DOG DANCE:   Friday, September 16th at 7pm.  Tentatively at Floorspace, but am working out those details, so location TBA for now.

xo jo

A Neglected Garden

It’s one of those days — you know the kind:

Waking up and wandering about, knowing you need to buckle down and get to work, your list for the day is never ending and continues for too many pages, but instead you continue to wander:

Picking at a few weeds in the yard, but not committing to doing any actual weeding, so the garden you imagined in your mind is still only in your mind, because you also haven’t been watering.

Pulling out your shoebox of receipts to go over, organize, and make sense of, but then getting distracted by the soft and very velvety ears of your beagle, and the receipts stay in the box for another day.

Planning to write about and discuss the latest, and devastatingly horrific massacre that has yet again taken place in the USA, but instead you are scrolling aimlessly through Facebook while feeling sick to your stomach and empty inside, and yet you keep scrolling.

And in some ways, the scrolling through Facebook. maybe it’s okay, because you read about the Orthodox Rabbi who took his congregation, in their yarmulkas and garb, to the local gay bar as an act of solidarity.

Maybe it’s okay to scroll through feeling empty and ill because you also read about how the JetBlue Crew and the passengers on that plane held a place of quiet and condolence for a grandmother traveling to Orlando to attend the funeral of her grandson.

Maybe it’s okay to scroll through and listen to all the people sing, and all the people stand, while so many circle the block, waiting to give blood.

Maybe it’s okay to scroll through for another few minutes before you turn off the computer and confront the truth of the matter.

But you can’t, because what is the truth here?

What is the correct course of action?

How do we move through our day as if nothing happened?

Can we all stop for a bit and reassess this entire situation of being human?

I taught dance at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies for 8 summers. 

There we some good times, some bad times, some peculiar and strange times.

One of the strangest was taking a walk with a woman, in the summer of 1998, who claimed to be able to see into the future (is that called Clairvoyant?).

And she was a mess.

She hadn’t fully arrived onto the planet yet.

Wonderfully kind and generous, but a bit undone.

Anyway, we were taking our walk, chatting about nothing in particular, when she took my arm, stopped me in my tracks and said:  “Something terrible is going to happen in September of 2001.  Something we cannot even imagine.  It is going to change the course of everything.”

Her eyes were wild and desperate.

She let go of my arm, and continued walking, amiably commenting about the flora and the fauna, forgetting in an instant what she had just said.

I don’t know what to make of that, because also at Omega, King Solomon (from the Bible) spoke to me through the body of a 24 year old mad man who ended up frying his brain with an overdose of Kundulinin Yoga, and was taken to the state hospital, BUT everything he said rang true, and some of it even made me cry.

So I don’t know what to make of the truth.

I don’t know what to make of violence, death, power, and greed.

I don’t know what to make of desperation, confusion, isolation, and loneliness.

I don’t know what to make of actions that so horrifically hurt others.

Is that why I keep scrolling, to try to make sense of it all, and to try to find the truth on Facebook?

I am going to stop scrolling now, because I am becoming hollow and paper thin.

Instead, I am going to go outside and try to save all the plants in my garden that I have  neglected, and most likely killed.

Then,  I’m going to sit down with my receipts and figure out a more workable budget.

As a treat, when all of that is done, I am going to take my teenage nephew for an ice cream cone, and listen to him talk about all of his favorite bands, and all of his favorite youtube stars, and maybe we’ll talk about Orlando…but probably not.

It’s come up a few times, but today, I’ll let him guide the conversation, and if that’s where he goes, I’ll listen, and I’ll try not to say a whole lot (that is really hard for me…I’m working on it, but it’s not going so well).

But if he talks, excitedly, as I expect he might, for many hours about My Chemical Romance, Panic at the Disco, and Twenty-One Pilots (all bands…sort of punk-pop teen bands I think) I’ll listen then too. 

I’ll sing along to the lyrics, because god help me, I know them all. 

With Warmth,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

PS:  Your Dance Mission!

I have been working these past two weeks with my classes, and with my work with Andrew on getting the body into awkward and almost stuck positions, and then seeing how you maneuver and navigate out of that puzzle.

Do you want to try to do that too?

If so, start on the floor, or in a chair maybe.

And put on some music that you love, and drop into your dance by noticing your breath, your body against the surface of the earth, or in the chair.

Notice what you notice, and fall in to dancing. 

When you get an arm stuck underneath you, or a leg tangled in the rungs of the chair, slow way way down….so slow that it’s almost as if your cells have to shift around and re-orient first, before the rest of your body can untangle. 

Keep going, and trust the dance that is emerging from deep inside of you, and follow it to the end.



The Other Side of the Earth

I don’t know what kind of dance we need to make right now.

I don’t know what kind of dance is bubbling up inside of this land of ours…this land that includes everywhere…this land that feels like it’s breaking apart at the seams sometimes.

I don’t know what kind of dance needs to happen when the listening from those that decide what happens to, on, and among these lands — when that listening is not keen or sharp, nuanced or fine, clear eyed or empathetic, honest or compassionate.

I don’t know what kind of dance needs to unfold when the same thing keeps happening again and again.

I don’t know what kind of dance needs to happen when there is a threat to close down entry into a space that belongs to all of us, not just some of us.

I don’t know what kind of dance needs to happen when the word “border” is still in our vocabulary, or when safe havens are no longer safe, or when luck - not karma, not good deeds, not hard work - but simple luck lands some of us here, where we are relatively safe from harm and some of us there, where we are in harms way every minute of the day.

I don’t know what this dance is.

As a system of beings making our way across these lands…these lands that include everywhere and belong to all of us….what is the dance we need, right now, in this moment, in time and space?

I only know what I know, and what I know is not enough.

And that knowing is that I am engaged in a process right now, that is steeped in discovering emergent movement forms and patters that are generated - I hope - from a place of listening.

From a place of breath.

From a place of connection to earth and air.

And how that is, in anyway, connected to everything I just said above these last few sentences, I really don’t know.

I don’t know what kind of dance needs to happen in this moment in history.

I don’t know what kind of dance we need to make right now.

Whatever dance we do end up creating — we need to do it  together, standing side by side, helping those that are in harms way, to cross any border they need to find a place that is safer than where they were before, with more resources and possibility, for themselves and for their families.

I don’t know much, but I do know that.

Isn’t that sort of fundamental to our values, not as a country, but as human beings living together on this planet?

Isn’t that the essence of existence?

“In this 21st Century, our lives, our well being, our survival, our flourishing, is linked to the well being of others…on the other side of the planet as well as those on the other side of the city, in a way that is unprecedented in human history.”  — Krista Tippett, Host of On Being

Your Dance Mission this week is to listen.

Listen to this:

It seems like a good time — as we are being inundated from all sides, by all that is happening in our world — to slow down and to take some time away from our to-do list, our Facebook feeds, and our Twitter tweets, and listen.

I listened myself, just now.

Taking the time to listen to Krista speak so eloquently about the soaring questions concerning the messiness and the loveliness of our human experience is helping me get clearer about what kind of dance I want to engage in, right now, in this moment in time.

After you listen, let me know what kind of dance you want to engage with, participate in, and be a part of.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

Less is More

I’m editing out almost everything I know about dancing:

I’m taking out the leaping and the twirling.

The ups that take you spinning out of the earth, and the dives that take you right back down.

The swoops and the bursting forth.

The rushes of velocity, speed, and momentum.

For now, at least, I’m editing it all out because these elements of dancing are not showing up for me at this moment in time.

These elements of dancing are no longer urgent.

There’s a bit of a loss around this.

A bit of confusion.

A bit of questioning and concern about where it has all gone.

At the same time, there is a hunger for dancing that I have never felt before.

For the first time, I can’t wait to get into a quiet space by myself, and begin to work.

I’ve never been able to do that.

In all my years of dancing, I’ve never been able to be alone in a dance space and to use that time to dance, fully.

Remember Flashdance?

Remember Jennifer Beale, alone in her warehouse apartment, dancing and sweating and flinging her body through space?

I sooooo wanted to know how to do that!

I’ve always had to have someone there in the room with me, to play off of and converse with or I fall into an existential despair that leaves me empty, angsty, and wandering for days.

Something has changed in me recently though, and now, for the first time in my life, I look forward to dancing for multiple hours on my own.

I’m hungry to be alone in a dance space, and to dance.

My dancing is slow and detailed and rooted. 

It is filled with stillness.

And silence.

And because of that, I feel like my body is pushing up against a tidal wave of sound and speed.

I feel like my body is pushing up against everything I know about dancing.

I feel like my body is pushing up against everything I know about myself.

Because I know myself to be big and loud - weird - outlandish and absurd.

I know how to put that part of myself out into the world as a performer and dancer.

But this stillness?

This silence?

This slow descent of weight that pulls me into the center of the earth?

This never ending and unhurried spiral — that I get caught up in for for hours at a time —while the rest of the world gets stuff done?

That’s a part of me that I always knew existed too, but I pretended that it didn’t.

I was a little embarrassed by it, a little ashamed, so I kept it hidden most of the time.

And now….now I can’t stop.

I can’t stop this slow descent of weight, this spiral, this snake.

I’m 46 years old, and I think I might be at the very beginning of finding my voice as a dancer, choreographer, improviser, and performer.

And this voice I’m finding is editing out everything I know about dancing.

What’s left is…..

I don’t know yet.

I don’t know.

I don’t know anything at all.

All I know is how to find my way to the floor.

All I know is how to notice my breath.

All I know is how to wait and see what emerges.

I will wait for as long as it takes.

And when this steady drop of weight pulls me in…when this intricate and perplexing spiral tugs at me from the inside…when I feel the snake moving through me….only then will I let myself begin.

Your Dance Mission for the Week is to wait.

Give yourself 7 minutes (can you give yourself 7 minutes right now so you don’t forget?), and find a comfortable place, either lying on the floor, sitting in a chair, leaning against a wall, walking in circle in your living room.

Notice your breath.

Notice your body making contact with, and pressing into the earth.

Notice your body making contact with, and carving into the air.

Imagine your tongue is thick and wide.

Imagine your eyes are heavy in your eye sockets.






For 7 minutes.

Notice what happens.

Is there movement?

Is there stillness?

Is your state of being shifting, transforming, or staying the same?

Let me know what happens for you.

And feel free to share this newsletter with anyone you think might enjoy it.

As always,

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

There once was a cat...

I got nothin’ today.

My mind is swirling.

My body is restless.

My thoughts aren’t connecting.

I’m trying to decide if it would be better to share the story of the next door neighbor cat named Uh-Oh, the kids who lived with Uh-Oh, and the mother who followed us around with a rag, wiping away our fingerprints every time a child’s hand made contact with the walls in her house.

This is one of my earliest memories, but I can’t seem to connect this to dancing, imagination, creativity or anything other than what it was: 

A cat named Uh-Oh.

A mother who was horrified about a child leaving a mark on her walls.

Or do I tell you about the time I was living in NYC in my early 20’s, standing on the corner of my street one Sunday morning wearing my hot pink velvet biker shorts (I loved those shorts…they were so soft, and the pink was a perfect pink).

A car pulled up and the man driving asked if I wanted to get in, how much I charged, and to describe the services I would offer to him — in detail please.

I considered getting in that car because I was broke and anxious about my financial situation.

I was constantly worrying about how I would pay for the next meal.

I did not get into the car, and I never wore those hot pink velvet biker shorts again.

This one seems a bit easier to connect to societal structures and the current world order, but as I said:  my brain is a swirl this morning, and the dots are too far apart.

All I have for you today, is this:

I love dancing…so much.

I have been away from dancing this past week, and coming back to it yesterday felt like coming back to the raw material of being human.

If felt like coming back to this planet and burying my face in the dirt.

If felt like giving myself permission to slowly roll along the edges of the earth, making my way across the center, and then finding my way back home.

My to-do lists became obsolete, and all that mattered was my body pressing and yielding into the land, my weight pouring into gravity.

Your dance mission for the week is to find a comfortable position, whatever that is for you.

It can be lying down, sitting in a chair, or standing up.

Put a timer on for 5 whole minutes.

In the 5 minutes you have allotted,  I want you to imagine that your body is filled with sand.

As you are imagining that your body is filled with sand, let yourself fall into your dance.

Notice how the sand pours, shifts, and reconfigures itself, within your movement, and within your stillness.

Notice the quality and weight of the sand.

Notice what parts of your body are still, and what parts of your body are in motion.

I have an idea:

Don’t put your dance mission off for later.

It’s only 5 minutes out of your day, so:

Put your timer on NOW.

Get comfortable NOW.

Start your sand dance NOW.

And then, let me know how it goes.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending


Did you know that Glen, the guy I co-habitat with, enjoy this little life with, make a home and family with, did you know that HE can make and fix ANYTHING?


We just got a Skidsteer (which is like a little dump truck) because we are starting to think about retirement.

The Skidsteer will make it easier for us to live up here into our twilight years.

It will allow us to maintain our mile and a half dirt road that gets us to town every morning and home every evening.

When I first moved up here with Glen, there were usually about 3 weeks in the winter when we couldn’t get our cars up the road to the house because of the snow.

If I came home from town and couldn’t get up our road:  No problem!

I strapped on my snowshoes, threw my backpack that was filled with the weeks groceries on my back, situated  2 jugs of water in each hand, and headed up the mountain as the sun was going down.

Now when it snows or when part of the road starts falling off the mountain we have the Skidsteer!!!

Except that we bought it used, and it didn’t come with forks - those big metal things you see on Forklifts.

I don’t know why we need the forks, but we do, so Glen made some.


Just welded them in his shop one Monday morning when work was slow.

He made his own forks for the Skitzer so we wouldn’t have to buy them.

He’s built a greenhouse, a 4,000 gallon water tank, and various tools for his shop to help make his furniture making process more efficient.

That’s why I can’t figure out why he always just shakes his head when I ask him to build some sort of wind shield for the house.

We get up to 110 mph gusts of wind up here:

A 50 pound hay bale has been blown into the side of the house by the wind

The picnic table, that is tied together and screwed down to the flagstone in the courtyard, the whole tied-up thing blew into the glass door one Saturday morning.

And a window in the kitchen window exploded into millions of pieces at 2am one morning because of the wind.

If he can figure out how to make the forks for the Skidsteer in his shop, can’t he build some kind of huge plexiglass thing that protects the house from the wind?

No, apparently he can’t.

This is an on-going argument we have.

I work hard at trying to “accept the things I cannot change”, but this one…accepting that the wind is just going to blow and blow and blow and smack into our house days and weeks at a time, and Glen can’t do anything about it?   

I am not able to accept this.

Which leads me back to Uh-Oh:

Glen’s work is so incredibly different than mine, for many reasons, but one reason is that he never works on a deadline.

He will turn down all projects and commissions if he is given a deadline.

I only work on deadlines.

My calendar is always out.

I write down what needs to get done by a particular date, and by god it is going to get done.

In most cases, this serves me well.

In some…not so much.

The “Uh-Oh” is that I moved too quickly to get my audio classes out to you.

It was in the calendar to get the audio classes to by Monday, May 16th.

Come hell or high water, that’s what was going to happen.

And this is hard for me to say, but I want a re-do.

Are you ok if I do a re-do?

Are you ok if I  re-send them?

I got some fantastic feedback from one of my most committed and long time students, Johannah, and I want to take that feedback and make the audio classes better.

I took down what is up on the website, and instead did a “Coming Soon”.

I’m not going to give myself a deadline this time, and instead make sure I implement Johannah’s feedback, and that I feel really really good about what I am sending to you.

I should have done this before, but for whatever reason, I didn’t.

That’s my Uh-Oh.

My other Uh-Oh is that a friend and read of this newsletter emailed me last week to say that The Guggenheim Museum had not moved, and that it was still where it always has been.

(She has a lovely and deep connection to this particular museum as she grew up in New York City, and played every day after school right outside the front doors of The Guggenheim).

And she is correct:  The Guggenheim Museum has not moved.

The Guggenheim I was referring to in last week’s newsletter was The Guggenheim Soho, which did in fact close, and was replaced by a Prada Store.

I apologize for not clarifying this.



Mistake, mishaps, and missteps abound, as I, and all of us, find our way in this mad, crazy, and beautiful world.

Thanks  for your patience with the online classes I am attempting to launch.

I will send you another link as soon as they are ready.

Your Dance Mission for The Week is an old favorite of mine:  Put on your favorite music, and dance.

Let me know how it goes.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

2 PS’s for the Day!



May 31st and June 2nd from 11-1pm

at The Boulder Circus Center

Email me if you plan to be there, and feel free to bring a friend.


Lotsa lotsa opportunities for dancing this summer:  Click here for more info.

I would love to have you in class.


Do I give a rat’s squishy tushy about fashion?

Not in the least — which is obvious to those who know me.

But I had an encounter with a Prada store a few years back that re-wired the circuits in my brain in a most beautiful way.

I was driving to Marfa, TX to do a workshop with Nina Martin.

About an hour outside of Marfa, on a deserted and desolate desert road, with no topography to speak of and nothing to see except for sage brush and tumbleweeds, I saw -- out of the corner of my eye -- a rather chic and urban looking building to my right, with a sign that said  “Prada”.

I pulled the car to a screeching halt,  jumped out, and tried the doors to the Prada Store, which were locked.

"Strange", I said to myself.

I peered into windows, walked around the building, peered in again, knocked, walked, peered, knocked once more and then realized….

This wasn’t a store…this was an art instillation in the middle of the desert.

This Prada “store” sitting in the middle of the desert was so surreal, so bizarre, so out of place and context, that I sat down in the dirt, next to the sage brush and the tumble weed, leaned back on my hands, looked up into the sky, and laughed.

I told this story at the Colorado Creative Industries Summit last week as part of the panel I was on.

Someone came up to me afterward and told me her own encounter with a Prada store:

She and her husband were in NYC, touring the museums.

They walked into the Guggenheim Museum, and saw multiple Prada mannequins with dark sunglasses and black bikini bathing suits, the Prada price tag dangling off of the bottoms.

They wandered about in the museum for a bit, taking in the space between and among the mannequins, noticing and commenting on the multiplicity of the scantily clad plastic women, and wondering if the price tag and the bikinis were in reference to consumerism, americana, sexuality?  The dark glasses indicating “not seeing”, perhaps?

Then they saw the cash register.

 And they someone walking out the door with a Prada shopping bag.

They weren’t at the Guggenheim.

They were at an actual Prada store.  

The Guggenheim had moved locations, and Prada had taken over it’s former locale.

Oh, how I laughed when hearing this story.

It made me think about all of the random moments in my life where I have entered into a space or a situation and have been surprised and astonished at what I am encountering.

The time I was walking along 5th Avenue in Brooklyn, late at night, with a friend, and we happened upon a group of people all dressed in what looked like paper costumes, on the rooftop of a building, dancing.

The time I was leading a group of 5th graders on a hike, and one of the boys kept saying to the rest of the kids:

 “I can’t wait to have a soda from the soda machine when we get to the top of the mountain.”  

In turn, I kept saying, “We are on a mountain, in the middle of nowhere…there is no soda machine at the top of the mountain.”  

He would reply:  “Do you know that for SURE?  Are you 100% positive there is no soda machine at the top of the mountain?  Have you ever been to the top of this mountain before?”

“No.  I have not been to the top of this mountain before.  Have you?”

“No!  I hate hiking.  I'm only here my mom MADE me go."

“Okay, well I’m 99.999% sure that we will not stumble upon a soda machine when we get to the top of this or any other mountain.”

“So there’s still a possibility that there could be a soda machine at the top of the mountain, right?”

“Yes, there's still a possibility…a very small possibility, but a possibility.”

You guessed it:  

When we got to the top of the mountain, there was a giant vending machine, with all different kinds of sodas for the kids to choose from.

The boy beamed:  “I told you so.” 

Your Dance Mission for the week is to notice any inexplicable and astonishing moments you encounter in your day to day life.

These moments can be as small as witnessing someone having a private dance party at the coffee shop, seeing an animated conversation in the car next to you at the stoplight, or closely observing the walking patters and  near misses that take place in a big crowd.

Or these moments can be as big as stumbling upon an an unexpected happening or event that leaves you sitting in the dirt, mouth open wide, laughing, gawking, wondering….WHAAAAAAAT????

I would love to hear about what you notice, see, encounter, and engage with, so post about your experience here.


1. FREE DANCE CLASSES: May 31st and June 2nd from 11-1pm at The Boulder Circus Center Email me if you plan to be there, and feel free to bring a friend.

2. Dancing this summer….lotsa lotsa opportunities.   Click here for more info. I would love to have you in class!!

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

What are we doing?

I am filed with wonder.

I am finding something inside of myself that I did not know was there.


That isn’t true.

I have known it was there, for a long time.

But I thought it would be better if I kept it hidden.

My work with Andrew has given me permission to be exactly who I am, and to bring the part of myself I was hiding, out into the open.

I am different because of this.

As a human being, and as an artist.

I see and experience the world from a new perspective.

I am giving myself permission to follow my imagination with trust, curiosity, respect, and dignity.

A student asked me the other day,  “What are we doing?  I don’t understand.  I feel lost.”

Which was funny, because I had asked Andrew the same thing a few days before, in almost exactly the same words.

Because of the work I am doing with Andrew right now Because of the way I am teaching my classes Because of what I am learning from my students in those classes, every single day Because of my own inquiry into creative process and dance making Because of an urgent desire to bring this work out into the world,

in my very humble opinion, in our tiny little corner of the universe, this is how I understand and distill what we are doing:

We are taking a deep dive into the depths of creative inquiry. We are asking questions. We are wondering.  We are excavating what is necessary, urgent, and relevant in each moment. We are working, researching, and pondering the current climate of where dance is now:  What are the restrictions of dance?  How do we push up against them?  How do we move forward  into this next phase dancing, artistic expression, and creative inquiry? We are listening.

“As artists, we create worlds.  And at the same time, the world creates us.  We are gently pushing civilization forward,”  Said Andrew when it was my turn to feel lost and when it was my turn to ask what were we doing.

We are on the edge of moving this art form forward, along with so many others who are doing the same thing, in their own way, and in their own geographic location. 

This edge -- it is quiet, small, and almost invisible.  

But it is there, and it is vibrating, and we are sharing ourselves and our vulnerability through the innate desire for expression, as we search for and seek out what is true. 

As we search for and seek out what is changing and shifting within us and outside of us. 

We dance for ourselves, we dance for each other, and we dance for something that is bigger than that.  

We dance to find out what is underneath that which is known.  

We dance to reveal what cannot be spoken.  

We dance because we are beginners in this inquiry into creative expression.  

The more we know, the less we understand.  

So we start from the very beginning, every single time.

With whatever fears, anxieties, hurts, questions, and curiosities we carry, we always start from the beginning.

The beginning is the breath.

The beginning is the body.

The beginning is waiting to see what sort of dance one will step into, in a particular moment in time.

The beginning is the gathering that takes place among those who are asking these same sorts of questions. 

The beginning is the gathering that takes place among those who are willing to follow what arises in the dance when we are together.

The beginning is the gathering that takes place where each and every one of us has the opportunity — always — to step into the dance that is already in the room.

If you would like to join me for this type of gathering — the type of gathering where we follow our imagination with trust and curiosity, respect and dignity, click here to learn more about the sort of dance opportunities I will be offering this summer.

If you liked this newsletter, would you share it?

If you know someone who would be interested in joining the conversation, have them sign-up here.

Post and comment, as I am curious to hear your thoughts about what has been said.

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