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.


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.

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 and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistently upending

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 8.47.41 AM

I am a horse

Since running Joanna and The Agitators became my full time job, I have become a work horse.

I have been working my whole teen and adult life, but I have never worked quite this hard.

The truth is, I could slow myself down to a trot if I wanted.

But I don’t want to, because the galloping is really fun.

As I write this to you, I am realizing that I talk about work and jobs a lot in this newsletter.

I don’t know why exactly, except that all of these weird and crazy dead-end jobs and all those times in my life when I didn’t have enough money for food or a subway token when I was living in Brooklyn, NYC, or when I couldn’t pay the heating bill and wrapped myself in blankets filling out job applications when I was living in Northampton, MA, or that time I ran out of money in Arizona. I was ok because the house I was renting had a grapefruit tree out back, and I lived off of grapefruits for a week until my next pay check came in.

Those times,

They have shaped me, as I’m sure they have shaped you.

Read more

2015-09 NRBC 06s

A Guru? A Teacher? A Specialist? A Swami?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gurus and teachers and specialists and swami’s.

I’ve been thinking about the time when my swim coach yelled at me to shave two seconds off my time, and I nodded and I sputtered, and by god I shaved off those two seconds, and was then shamefully pleased when she gave me a friendly pat on the butt and a high five and a “Good job, Jo” at the end of the swim.

As someone who could care less about racing and speed and competition (Actually, I love competition, so much so, that I try to pretend  that I don’t, because it scares me how much I care about winning), why was I so pleased? 

And I was thinking about the time when I was in grad school, and seeing a Reichian Therapist. 

He had me stand about a foot away from the wall, with my back arched, and the crown of my head pressed into that wall.

Then it got quiet.

For a long time.

Read more

2015-08 Adult Class Tue 10s

what is “real” dancing?

A long long time ago (isn’t that the first line to a famous song?),

I got invited to teach dance in a one room schoolhouse in Cortez, CO.

It was like pulling teeth.

After each class, the smallest child there would ask, “But when are going to do some real dancing?”

And all the others would chime in, “Yes, when? We want to do real dancing.”

Each time this happened — which was every day, multiple times a day — I would say, in my calm and soothing teacher voice:

“This is real dancing. It is just different than what you are used to. Try to have an open mind about what we are exploring together in our dancing.”

And then this very small child would cross her arms over her chest, scowl at me, and say:

“No. This is not real dancing. I know what real dancing is, and this isn’t it.”

Read more

2015-07 Jo & LA NBRC51s

I hope you can join me

On Tuesday, July 21st, from 11-1pm, I am offering a FREE dance class for the community.

Come join me to remember and experience the joy, the rest, the expansiveness, and the delight of being in a body.

This FREE class will be at the Boulder Circus Center in the upstairs studio, and I would love to have you there.

Email me if you would like to come, and I will hold a space for you.

Feel free to bring a friend.
Read more


Bad Teacher

When I was living in NYC I made my living as a teaching artist in the public schools.

I was fairly young and ready to take on anything that came my way, including rowdy young ruffians making their way through the New York City Public School System.

My favorite and most difficult job was teaching leadership skills at an elementary school using an arts oriented curriculum.

I was assigned to work with a second grade class.  

Not 10th grade, or 7th grade, or even 5th grade.

But 2nd grade.

7-8 years old.

4 feet tall.

I had about 12 kids in my classroom.

And it was…intense.

Chairs were thrown, paper was ripped from the walls, physical fights broke out one after the other after the other.

One cold and wintery day, one of the dads snuck into the class and began to throw ice balls at the kids.  

(I tend to exaggerate when I tell stories, and this is not an exaggeration.  All of a sudden he was in the classroom with a bucket full of ice balls – not snow balls, ice balls — throwing them at the kids and laughing every time he hit one of the them.  I must have blocked out the rest of that day, because I have no recollection of how I got him out of there).

As the only adult in the class, besides the ice ball throwing dad I just mentioned, I was at a total loss of what to do.

And there was absolutely no support from the school.  

At one point I saw another teacher pick up a kid and throw him, really hard, against the wall.

When I went to the principal to report the incident, she said  “Was there blood?  No blood?   What’s the problem then?”

So one day, I am in the class, chairs are being thrown and paper is being torn from the walls, as usual, when out of the blue all of the girls get down on their hands and knees and begin to crawl around the room meowing and pawing at the air like cats.  

And what do I do?  

I send the girls to the office for detention and a pink slip.

Not the boys who are throwing the chairs and tearing down the walls, but the girls who are meowing like kitty cats.

What the hell was that about?

And I am ashamed to admit that at one point I came inches away from grabbing a kid by the collar and lifting him right off the ground.  

I didn’t do it, but holy mackerel, I was close.

I sucked at being a teacher.

Yeah, the circumstances were hard and less than ideal, but my skill level was so low, I just could not figure how to navigate the situation.

There was a lot I learned that year working with those kids, and by the end we sort of fell in love with each other.  

We began to have some fun and we were able to explore and create together because of a simple exercise my roommate told me about:

I would have the kids sit in a circle and one at a time each child would make eye contact with the person sitting to their right and say “Good morning Jimmy, how are you today?”

And Jimmy would also have to make eye contact and say “Thank you for asking Brianna.  I am feeling sad today (or happy or angry or whatever it was they were feeling).

And then Jimmy would look to the person to his right and begin the process all over again.

The first few weeks of doing this were hellish.  

Chairs were still being thrown and fights were still breaking out, but I was able to get the girls to sit with me, make eye contact, and ask each other how they were doing in a very formalized manner, by bribing them with the promise that they could be cats when we were done.  

Slowly, one by one, the boys started to get curious and come over to see what we were doing. 

By the end of the year, if I skipped over this exercise, the kids begged me to let them sit in a circle, make eye contact, and ask each other how they were doing.

The exercise evolved on its own and we began to extend it to include asking each other more questions and beginning to share things from our lives

A ton of other things happened with that group of kids:  like the boy who whispered for me to slip him some pink construction paper when no one else was looking; or when that same boy did a charade of what he wanted to be when he grew up. His charade was simply to sit quietly, swing his legs, and whistle.  When we finally gave up and weren’t able to guess what his charade was, he looked at all of us with pure exasperation and said “Couldn’t you see that I was sitting on a big block of gold, getting rich”; or, the girl who sang the most beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace while standing in the broom closet during the talent show because she was so shy.

But the most amazing thing, was that just by looking at each other and saying “Hey, how are you doing today”  it made it possible for us to find our way as a class.  

I have to keep reminding myself of that when I get overwhelmed and am drenched in my own insecurities and judgements. 

I have to remind myself of that when I feel unseen.

I have to remind myself of that when I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have to remind myself of that when I’m stumbling and falling.

And I have to remind myself of that when I’m troubled by the ways of the world.

So your dance mission for the week is to make eye contact with someone you wouldn’t normally make eye contact with, and then ask them how they are doing today.

Do it once a day for a whole week and see how it goes.

Tell me about your experience by commenting below and then if you wish, share this post with one of your really amazing teachers.

With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,



Joanna and The Agitators

sweetly agitating/persistently upending

ps.  Glen and I will be backpacking in Utah next week, so the next newsletter won’t be coming out until Wednesday, April 1st.

pps.  The dance classes are all almost full at this point.

If you haven’t signed up yet, and you want to take a class, go to one of the links below or email me so I can get you registered.