Linda Stonerock, who has been in class with me since the beginning, sent this poem to our class recently:
I’m sitting here this morning, sipping the espresso that Glen just made me with our brand new espresso press, wondering what to share with you today.
I’m wondering if I should share the silly story about the time I auditioned to be in a ballet project with Jacques d’Amboise when I was 12 years old.
He came right up to me in a room that was packed with kids, and said: “Are you in 4th?” (He meant 4th position, as in the ballet position — I thought he meant 4th, as in the grade).
I said, “No, I’m in 6th.” (There is no 6th position in ballet — I was referring to the grade).
He looked at me with disgust and said “Well aren’t you a brat?”
He turned his back and walked away while shooing me out of the room.
That was the end of my ballet career with Jacques d’Amboise (I was so upset I tore the satin off my point shoes)!
I have spent most of my life cultivating the perfect dancing body, and I thought it was high time I shared some of my documented and highly flouted research on how to obtain the most perfect dancing body with you, my beloved reader.
Please know, that these 3 steps have been tested on over a million miceysubjects who were put through a rigorous series of dance steps – in a maze no less – in order to determine if indeed, they could obtain a dancing body, and the results are in:
They did it.
All of them.
All 1,000000000000 mice came out of the maze, dancing, with the most perfect dancing bodies.
This past Sunday, Glen and I watched a Talking Heads video on youtube of David Byrne singing Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place) from the early 80’s, I think?
And it was amazing.
It was simple, clear, and essential.
It felt exactly right that those sounds and those words would come from that human being, in that way, and at that time.
And in this way, the generosity of the work was tremendous.
Then Glen and I watched a more recent version of the song, from 2012, and….hmm.
I was disappointed.
Byrne was trying to be who he was 35 years ago instead of honoring who he is right now, 35 years later.
And so it felt contrived, affected, and not so generous.
Since watching these two videos on Sunday night, I have had repeated conversations with friends, in class, and at rehearsal, about why we yearn to do what we did in the past, instead of becoming giddy, excited, and abundant about who we are RIGHT NOW.
For me, some of the most beautiful, cell expanding, and life affirming moments come when someone is steeped in who they are, and the art – whatever form it takes – comes from that place, that elemental place, within their own being.
That moment might come from a student in class rolling towards the rest of the class with both eyes wide open.
It might come from a performer on the stage imitating the sounds of a crying baby.
It might come from someone walking down the street jigging to the music pouring out of their headphones.
And, it might come from David Byrne, tipping the light back and forth while singing “Guess I must be havin’ fun”, NOT because he thinks that we, the audience, hope he will tip the light back and forth, but because how could he NOT tip that light back and forth?
I want to address this head-on with you, because this idea that we have to have the agility, strength, and verve of our younger dancing/singing selves just isn’t so helpful, and it holds us back from cherishing who we are right now, at whatever age that is.
It stops us from taking the time to discover what it is that we have to offer NOW, with the history and experience that we hold, rather than trying to replicate what we had 5,15 or 35 years ago.
I think I must have heard this story when I was around 18, and taking class with Remy Charlip at The Colorado Dance Festival. He spoke about the time he took out full page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle that said, “So you can lift your leg up to your ear? Good for you. NOW WHAT??”
And I guess that is what I am asking myself too.
What is essential?
What am I saying?
What is emerging in my dancing — from my very innermost being — that cannot be named?
And how does all of that connect to the larger world?
If you too have similar questions, (or if you don’t, but are still curious), why don’t you come dance with me in a few weeks?
It’s free, so there’s really nothing to loose.
A student of mine just spoke to a friend about the class she is taking with me, and the friend said something along the lines of:
“So, this is also a class for people who are not comfortable in their bodies, but that want to be.”
Yes, that’s true.
Having comfort in one’s body is not a prerequisite for joining the class.
In fact, not being comfortable is an incredibly wonderful place to start.
The TWO FREE classes are happening on:
Tuesday, August 18th from 11-1pm
Saturday, August 22nd from 10-12pm
Both at the upstairs at The Boulder Circus Center at 4747 N. 26th Street.
Email me if you plan to come.
I would love to see you there.
Feel free to bring a friend.
And, as in every newsletter I send, post any comments you have here.
Share this newsletter with a friend, share it on social media, and share it anywhere else you can think of so that we can all start to have a larger conversation with each other.
With Warmth and Jivey Vibes,
Joanna and The Agitators
sweetly agitating/persistenly upending
Something is shifting.
In this dance.
Some sort of revival is taking place.
Some sort of quiet hoopla.
I can feel it in the sweetness, delicacy, and verve of moving through space here on this earth.
I can sense it in all layers of reality that float in and out, sometimes entering in with a piercing clarity, and sometimes hanging out around the edges, just watching.
I know, I know.
I am the worst.
I am sitting on the couch, eating leftover spaghetti, in my pajamas, scrolling through Facebook, and enjoying the hell out of it.
Very bad monkey.
But look where I just landed in my vast and intrepid Facebook travels:
Humans of New York:
“God sends me little moments all day long to say: ‘You’re not alone, brother.’
Just a little while ago, an old hunched-over Chinese lady smiled at me with the greatest warmth in her eyes.”
“And you think that was a message from God?”
“I think that was God.”
The last time I took Samba with Quenia Ribeiro she was wearing a turquoise unitard decorated with little white tennis rackets. I LOVED it (both the unitard AND the Samba class). It was one of the best dance experiences I had ever had.
The class was so fast, so rhythmic, so intricate, and so HARD that I made sure to stand front and center to keep my eyes on the whirling tennis rackets sluicing across the turquoise spandex.
About 20 minutes in, Quenia tapped me on the shoulder and said “I am moving you to the back of the room. You are messing everyone else up rhythmically.” Read more