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what if you danced more?

Like, everyday?
10 minutes, right after you wake up perhaps.
Roll out of bed, find your way to the floor.
Notice your breath, see what arises and follow the thread, first thing in the morning.
Two students of mine have been doing this for awhile now.
They made a pact with each other — a simple nod when they see each other in class — “I’m dancing every morning…you?”
What’s happened is that they are able to “drop-in” more quickly, with more depth, and for longer periods of time.

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2017-03 Adult Class Thu 26s

Looking for Legs

My mom started taking a cocktail of medications for nerve pain in her lower back a few months ago.

Because of the mix of meds she’s on, she’s hallucinating now and then.

She’s clear and bright eyed when she re-counts her latest sighting:

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2017-03 Adult Class Thu 13s

i’m nervous that i’m not sweating

I know that’s weird, but it’s true.

 

I thought dancing was about sweating and breathing hard:  hands on knees after a long and complicated sequence of movements, or a melt to the ground to rest and recuperate after spinning and leaping, catching and falling.

 

That’s what I’ve known and loved for many many moons, and yet it isn’t what I’m following these days.

 

Even if I try to make that happen, I can’t seem to find it right now.

 

Even when I’m pulled into a current of sweat and breath and balance, I step out at some point to follow my weight instead, bringing myself back down and into gravity.

 

WHAT IS HAPPENING?

 

I thought I was one way, and now I’m another.

 

I thought I understood, and now I don’t.

 

I thought I inhabited this human form with a set of rules and expectations when it came to dancing and yet…this isn’t so.

 

I can’t seem to settle and rest, until I do.

 

And when I do — rest — I become curious about the body in space, carving through earth and air, as others also carve, draw, push through, and emerge.

 

I’m a mistake maker.

 

I make mistakes multiple times throughout each day:  small ones that nobody notices but me, bigger ones that get a side glance from time to time, and then the gigantic ones, where I have to clean up the mess I’ve made.

 

Is this one of those mistakes?

 

Have I made a mistake by turning my attention to the interior when I dance?

 

Have I made a mistake by opting out — at least for now — on the bigger, grander, more understandable way of dancing?

 

Have I made a mistake by not working harder, longer, faster?

 

Sometimes my mind does that thing where it wraps around itself.

When that happens, I can’t find the quiet of what I know.

 

I search and grab and search and grab, and then the dancing is flat and mundane, no matter how big, or how fast, or how strong.

 

But when I come up and out for air, I can feel it:   The outside is the same as the inside when the inside is given the time to slow down.

 

Then it doesn’t matter if it is a spin or a fall, a roll or a jump, a balance on one leg, or a crumple to the ground.

 

It’s all coming from the same place:  the body as animal — sniffing around, scratching at the earth, digging a hole, running through the woods, being still, and burrowing in.

Your dance mission for the week is to do just that:

Sniff
Scratch
Dig
Run
Be still
And burrow in.

 

Dog Dance is happening this Friday Joanna.
There’s a workshop called “Learning Dog Dance” the very next day.
Let me know if you are interested in joining me for one or either of these weekend events, and I’ll send you all the info.

 

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

2017-03 Adult Class Thu 22s

Dancing and Aging

“To be astonished is one of the surest ways of not growing old too quickly.”
— Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette

 

Immediately after reading this,  I received an email from Johannah discussing her experience in class this past Friday.

 

Johannah has been taking class with me since I started teaching in 2003, and the Friday class has been a struggle for her at times:   I don’t always use music, there is very little instruction, and sometimes there is a minimal amount of big muscle movement  (i.e.. leaping, jumping, locomoting, spinning, swooping).

 

A question that continually comes up for Johannah about this particular class is, “Is this really dance?”

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2015-05 Adult Class Tue 06s

What Happens When You Dance?

What happens when you dance ?
When you are in motion, what do you feel, sense, perceive?

 

What about stillness?

 

What about the in-between?

 

Just yesterday I was dancing with my class and a new pattern emerged.

 

I felt the thrill of new and old laying ground.

 

As I sat on the sidelines later on to watch, long moments of fullness and ease moved in, and stayed for awhile.

 

I felt, sensed, and percieved awe.

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2015-08 Adult Class Thu 07s

Trisha, Angela, and Helen

Getting ready for Dog Dance after hearing Dr. Angela Davis speak this weekend about undoing structures and re-thinking assimilation.

Getting ready for Dog Dance after hearing the incredible Judge Helen Whitener speak about understanding the codes — the rules of conduct — and advocating from within.

 

The opposite of what Dr. Davis was speaking of perhaps?

 

Not sure, though the back and forth between these two women had me sitting at the edge of my seat.

 

Getting ready for Dog Dance after a weekend spent in Florida listening, learning, and struggling to understand the systems that have shaped a world that is not fair or just.

 

Getting ready for Dog Dance and wondering about the fate of the NEA, the EPA, PBS, NPR and all of the things that I care about and participate in.
Getting ready for Dog Dance and paying attention as best I can, so as not to miss any steps.

 

Getting ready for Dog Dance and feeling lost sometimes, found at others.

 

Getting ready for Dog Dance and reading about Trisha.

 

I wonder what she would have said on that panel with Dr. Angela Davis and Judge Helen Whitener.
Would she have steered the conversation in an entirely new direction that we can’t begin to imagine, or would she simply have started to dance?

 

Warmth, Love, and Wonder,
Joanna
of
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending
www.joannandtheagitators.com

 

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i’ve been thinking about you

I wonder how you are choosing to walk through the world after reading the news or not reading the news.
I wonder how you are doing, hearing the first 12 minutes of this, as you hang the laundry.

I wonder and hope that you are going to dance class — because you must continue to go to dance class — even as you hear these first 12 minutes, and want to run, screaming into the streets.

Do run — screaming into the streets — but also:

Go to dance class.

We cannot let him take that away from us.

I wonder how you are moving in the world right now, in this moment in history.

I wonder where, and how, you are finding stillness.

I wonder if you are spinning.

I wonder if you are spiraling.

I wonder if you are sensing your weight — in space — as it shifts and drops, and then rises.
It is difficult

to get the news from poems

Yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there

~ William Carlos Williams
Katharine sent this me when I said “I don’t have time for poems right now.”

I decided, then and there, to make time for poems.
I’ve been thinking about you.
I wonder how you’ve been doing.
xo
Joanna
of
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending
www.joannaandtheagitators.com

2015_11_adult_class_thu_13s-1

are you awake?

I am.

The wind is blowing the house down.

So I’m up,

I’m giddy and unable to sleep because something woke up in me last Wednesday — right after I sent you that last newsletter.

That something has been groggily waking up for a long time now, but last week it got me sitting up straight, eyes wide open.

This thing I asked us to imagine?

It’s taking shape, in a way I couldn’t have imagined, and it’s moving fast.

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Let’s get together and…

Imagine.

 

What if we all meet — in the middle — to take our shoes off, sit on the floor and roll around for a bit, before beginning the work of dreaming the world we want to walk in.

 

What if we all meet —at dusk —to watch the moon rise, and to sing a hallelujah.

 

What if those who gather are artists and politicians, teachers and mail carriers, front desk workers and chiefs of police.

 

What if those who gather are dishwashers and lawyers, tribal leaders and midwives.

 

What if you and I and everyone else takes a deep breath, closes our eyes, and dreams.

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