Thursday, May 10, 2018

Not my "Mom Dance"

KYL/D's InHale/ ExHale Performance Series is this weekend.

I'm showing a new solo.

When he found out, a colleague asked with a smile, "is this your 'mom dance'?"

No, I grimace. I don't know what that is. I don't know what This Is. But I need to get back (to dancing, performing, creating, and developing my voice) and This Is what's coming out. 

I grimace because inside of This Work, I feel matter-of-fact. I don't feel the bliss and the joy and the ethereal beauty that instagram and most marketing-to-mom's-companies suggest motherhood could be.
I feel contrasts.
I feel edges that smooth out (with a curve of my son's spine into my body or the acknowledgement from a friend that I'm not an awful person because I just can't... do. anything.)
I feel exhaustion but explosive power.
I feel empty but solid.
Lost, but grounded.
A constant tightness in my chest but a flexibility that can only come with letting go.

This new work feels like I'm picking up the broken pieces - the pieces that shattered, shifted, fell off, ripped, and were lost during the past two years - of my pregnancy and the first year of my son's life. I had so much fear during my pregnancy. I have so much fear of what will come. for him.

But there's a strength in being able to feed my child. To be his place of security when he's faced with a new challenge. To set aside the bull sh!t, drama, and unnecessary noise we're confronted with everyday and say, "I don't have time for that..."

To quote an old poem... 
"Quiet down cobwebs
Dust go to sleep
I'm rocking my baby
And babies don't keep"
~Song for a Fifth Child by Ruth Hamilton

This new work feels like I'm keeping the pieces that have survived and building a new mosaic of myself that's more me than the person I knew before.

Woman. Girl. Mother. Wife. Dancer. Educator. Advocate. Friend. Daughter. Seeker. Questioner. Believer. Dreamer. Doer. Empower-er. Body. Hugger. Hold-er...

Digression - in my church growing up, there were mis-matched, asymmetrical pieces of stained glass that were put together to form huge windows in the image of the four writers of the New Testament Gospels. I thought they were hideous.
But now, I'm wondering if the artist wasn't making a statement about humanness and spirituality and beauty in that ugliness.
 -- There could be beauty in broken pieces. There could be a great strength - a gift, even - in asymmetrical architecture that models a transparency that refracts, redirects, and enhances light.

This new work is called "Stained Glass".

So, maybe this is my "Mom Dance."

Happy Mothers' Day.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Dancing Dreams

I've chosen to teach at liberal arts universities because I deeply believe in developing the whole person. Dance (and all of the arts) are avenues through which the whole person can express him/her/themselves through creative thinking, outside-of-the-box problem solving, social development, and hands-on engagement.

In classes, I challenge my students to address their "dancing dreams". These might be remembering and growing in specific points of feedback, technical challenges, and artistic expression, or addressing elements of trust and confidence in performance.

My students at Widener had their final dress rehearsal with the Chamber Music performers on Wednesday. They'll perform Sunday afternoon. I asked them to share a dream for themselves and their class.

I didn't expect them to turn the tables on me and ask me what my dancing dreams are for them. But, as good students often do, they repeated my words back to me.


Dear Dancers,

Thank you for listening to me. Thank you for now challenging me as I've challenged you. I have many dreams for you... here are a few, for your performance on Sunday and the many times you'll need to turn to your performance skills in your future:

Trust your training. In class, we practice improvisation. We practice contemporary dance technique to prepare your body for the demands of choreography. We practice seeing and listening to our environment and the people in our space. We practice using the whole kinesphere, the under curve and the over curve, so as to create a fluidity in motion and awareness of injury prevention in real time. We practice performing for each other. We practice vulnerability. We practice creating a safe space for newcomers as well as old friends. We practice non-judgement. We've spent many weeks and many classes embodying these concepts. Trust your training.

Made a choice. You'll learn soon enough how that works out, but commit to a choice, first. Take the fall and roll. Forget the movement and remain still. Do a different step and go with it. If you trust your training when you make this choice, you'll learn from the moment. Remember, you're sharing a visual art and all of your choices are being displayed in real time, so make a choice and reflect later on the success of your decision. You'll learn a lot from being confident in your decision making. Be bold.

Commit to the moment. Art reflects life. As in life, as in dance. Commit to the moment of your performance. Be bold in your movement. Be bold in your trust. Be bold in your decision making. Be bold in your vulnerability. Be bold in your story telling. Be bold in the way that your impact can have a ripple effect. Commit to yourself and commit to the moment of THIS DANCE.

Take care of your audience. See them. With your presence, let them know that you see them as much as they see you. Own your responsibility to their expectations. Your audience is coming to watch you share a story. They're coming to have an experience through your physical, artistic expression. Honor them and their trust in you.

Trust each other. Your dance colleagues are trusting you to know your role in this story and you're trusting them to tell theirs. Provide your friends with the respect you expect from them. Through the process - the joys and frustrations, the sharing of vulnerabilities and strength, the fear and the conquests - you've already been there for each other. Trust each other, now.

Listen to each other. Whether you realize it or not, this has been part of your training. Enhance your awareness onstage.

Meet this, and any -every- challenge, with 100% of you. As a dancer, you know the thrill of dancing. Share that. You know the thrill of performing. (Even if you're presenting at a conference or at interview, or teaching, or in your professional practice and in your specific "business attire",  that is a type of dance performance.) Through your performance and in-class practice, you know how to make someone else feel like they're being acknowledged. Do that. You understand what it feels like to be "in" your body, and what it feels like to be "out" of your body; and you know both when you see it in someone else. Acknowledge that. You know the feeling of vulnerability and the feeling of strength. Use this personal knowledge as an asset to your community - your audience, your peers, or your professional clients.

Enjoy the dance. You've reflected after every class that you're more confident, less stressed, and happier than when you walked in. Dance is powerful - and you have the power to share those experiences with your audience. So, do that and enjoy the power of dance.

And yes, lengthen through your limbs. Project up and out. Dance "full out". Don't look down.

Shine... but know that the light you share through these performances come from deep within you. I've seen it and I know it.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Winter Solstice full of Wonder

It's been a while since I've been able to sit down with this blog.

(But I've been writing! Check out my reflections on Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers' Faith Project blog!)

Happy Winter Solstice.
Photo of the 2017 Eclipse by Paul Fejko

How are you? What have been some of your sources of light in 2017?

On this, the shortest day of the year, I'd like to carve out some time to share some of mine...

Tristan Wayland King burst into our world in early June. He's a beacon of joy! In the past few months, he's prompted me to reflect and revisit how and why I'm a dance artist. I've needed to honor my body and my recovery from pregnancy and birth, which has limited my ability to move, to create, and to perform in the capacity that I had. But, this new awareness has taught me to be more empathetic, understanding, and clear with my choreography, my teaching, and my writing.

Tristan encourages me to create the type of world in which I want him to grow, so I've invested in:

CLARITY. The Embodiment Project, LLC is adopting the name JCWK Dance Lab. The letters are my initials, but they also just happen to be the first letters of a lot of words that describe who I am and what I do:
Am I missing any?

CHOREOGRAPHY. Over the summer, JCWK Dance Lab performed in NYC and Philly. Jennifer Yackel, Grace Stern, and Laura Baehr performed One foot in this wonder place, one testing new ground that feels more like home at 8 in Show presented by Dixon Place. The piece was inspired, in part, by Michael Lancaster's poetry, Ellen Rosenberg's Photography, the salt marshes of NJ, and Paul Fejko's music. Keila Perez-Vega and Brian Cordova performed Cloudshapes and Daydreams in NYC at the Moving Beauty Series and in Philly at Koresh Dance Company's Come Together Festival. I created the work from a challenge by Rob Smith of Carrington Kay. I LOVE their music and often use it in my classes. (If you've danced with me, you've heard Wonderful World, Dear Friend, and Ocean Breeze - go ahead. Jump up and dance. I'll wait...) 

Dancing with Alvernia's
Seniors' College.
Pic by Rachel Boscov
CLASSES. Tower Health (Formerly Reading Health Systems) invited me to teach dance classes for people with Parkinson's and other movement challenges. We'll be continuing these classes through January. I'll also be sharing dance with the folks at Alvernia University's Senior College in February.

COMMUNITY. New and exciting projects that connect professional dancers, community members, and students are on the horizon - including NACHMO 2018! NACHMO Chester last year was a huge success and I'm looking forward to 2018. The National Brain-Trust-Team has been hard at work getting ready for the new year. Want to participate? Register at Let me know if you want to help out locally.

Pics of One foot... by Peter Yesley
If you're interested in creating connections through dance and supporting these and the future work of JCWK Dance Lab, please consider making a tax-deductible donation through my Fiscal Sponsor, Fractured Atlas. 

Thanks for taking some time with me today!

What new adventures have filled your journey this year? Let me know. I look forward to continuing this creative conversation!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Veteran's Day 2017

Thank you, Veterans.

Thank you for being the ones to "hold the line".

Thank you for your integrity and honesty as an example in our current state of affairs.

Thank you for standing on the wall.

Thank you for allowing me to create and perform my art.

Thank you for demonstrating honor for my son.

Thank you will never be enough....

But, thank you.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dancing with Parkinson's

Tower Health in Reading, PA has asked me to lead a 10-week piolet class for people with Parkinson's Disease!

Join me!

Who: You! The class is designed specifically with people who have Parkinson's Disease in mind, but isn't limited to people with PD. Some of the dancers have be diagnosed with other challenges in addition to Parkinson's and have asked for additional dance classes addressing those movement concerns. Dancers of all skill levels focus on mobility, strength, flexibilitly, creative thinking, and problem solving during class - all while having fun and building relationships with the other dancers! If you have PD, come dance! If you're a friend, family member or care giver with PD, come dance! If you are interested in exploring dance to facilite other movement challenges, come dance!
What: Dance classes designed for people with Parkinson's Disease (and others!)

Where: Tower Health Rehabilitation Center

When: Every Monday from 11am-12pm in Classroom 1

Why: Because dancing creates joy, builds community, develops awareness of the self, and keeps us moving!

Questions? Let me know!

See you there!

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Support Dayspring Homes!

Join us today at Berverly Hills Tavern for the Berks County Parrot Heads Club "Parrot Daze"!

This year, proceeds benefit Dayspring Homes, Inc!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Moments from May

May was full of making memories and moving forward. What made your May memoriable?