Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Solstice 2020

Dear Friends... 

How are you? 

2020 is coming to an end and it's been, well... #2020. 

Whenever I've been asked "how's it going?" this year, I've responded with a roller coaster emoji. My language capacity doesn't seem to be sufficient for the swell of emotions that has surged on any given day and I'm not sure that there's a better image that's worth a few, or a thousand, words. Perhaps you've experienced this as well. This year has been complicated for me on micro and macro levels. 

I've been missing my communities and moving together.

I've also been afraid of making videos and the vulnerabilities that invites. 

But, I've been wanting to share Tracy Scott Silverman's "Here Comes the Sun" and the ways it has moved me for a long time. So, here goes!

Please join me in this simple solstice dance (click here or check out the video below):

Thank you to Tracy Scott Silverman for the kind permission to use your music. Tracy Scott Silverman has produced so much amazing music - check it out here! 

Thank you for joining me in this dance!

May this Winter Solstice bring you light.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Secrets for Dancing in Small Spaces - Tip 3

Working in a small space can be an optimal time to break down large goals and achieve not only them, but the ability to dance longer and dance stronger. 

What is (are) your short and long term goal(s)? Write them down. 

Break that down. 

Break that down further. And yet, again. 

I often hear from my students, "I want to increase strength." or "I want to increase flexibility." 

These are valid, but arbitrary goals. What does "strength" mean? What does "flexibility" mean? 

I suggest that both are needed to help each other. More on that forthcoming - read on! 

What if the goal is specific? "I want to do a triple pirouette." Again, break it down. 

For example, I'll break down the goal of a triple pirouette, in parallel. The mechanics of a pirouette include physics, and from the ground up, foot strength, calf strength, alignment of the ankle/lower leg, knee, femur, and pelvis, flexion of the femur in the hip socket of the working leg, core strength, back strength, arm placement, application of spotting techniques, and balance on one leg for the time it takes to execute a triple pirouette. There are a lot of elements on which one could work to enhance the mechanics of a triple pirouette without actually just repeating the pirouette. In truth, without proper execution of these mechanics, repeating a task improperly will not be effective in the long term for achieving the goal with consistency. 

Some exercises might include: calf raises with a focus on alignment and strength or use of a resistance band; Pilates exercises to increase the strength of the iliopsoas for hip flexion, core stability and rotation, and back strength; planks to increase core and arm strength and alignment; and/or balancing in parallel pase. Can you think of others? This might be incorporated into class, as a pre-class warm up, or as part of cross-training for dance in your small space. 

As I mentioned previously, flexibility and strength are equally important. For more reading and research, check out this article from Dance Informa: Why the Australian Ballet dancers quit stretching. 

Flexibility is defined as the range of motion around a joint. Many dancers are able to manipulate multiple joints to achieve a look for a moment. (I refer you back to the tilt challenge on social media a few years ago and the many dance scientists who argued against it because of the extreme displacement of the body in an effort to achieve a momentary image.) Strength is necessary in order to stabilize the area around a joint for the most efficient and safe movement pathways to be achieved. 

But that's not all! Laura Baehr, DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) reminds me that this type of training is not only beneficial for our bodies, but also for our brains! Repetition of physical movement creates neurological pathways that can change our brains over time. This ability of the nervous system and the brain to change and adapt is called neuroplasticy. (Neuro - having to do with nerves or the nervous system. Plasticy - ability to adapt or change.) Neuroplasticy happens through and supports repetition. In practice, if you want to remember proper ankle/knee/ pelvis alignment so you can achieve triple pirouettes every time you execute the skill, you need to repeat the "broken down" exercises on a regular basis. Your body and brain will remember these new pathways and you'll be well on your way to successful multiple turns. Neuroplasticity doesn't just apply to pirouettes... the concept is referenced in medicine and rehabilitative practices. Click here to dig into neuroplasticity. 

Everyone's body is different and each of us has different strengths and imbalances. I encourage you to take the time in small spaces to break down your goals and explore your own strengths and imbalances. You might be surprised that you're dancing longer and dancing stronger when you get to move in big spaces, again. 

Happy and safe exploring! 

Thank you to Dr. Laura Baehr for your insight and expertise. Check out this dancing scientist at Laura Baehr Moves (or on instagram @labmoves). 

Strength and flexibility are necessary for dance technique and performance. 
Pic by Brian Mengini Photography from a pre-2020 performance


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Creativity in the Time of Covid

Covid-19 has presented innumerable challenges (#obviousstatements). 

But, the pandemic also has invited creativity and ingenuity. And persistence. 

I'm Artist in Residence in Dance in Alvernia University's Fine and Performing Arts Department. One of my roles is to mentor dancers and develop opportunities for concert dance at Alvernia. (There are no college dance programs in Berks County). 

Dance happens everywhere and Alvernia University in Berks County, PA is no different. Dance happens here. No matter what. 

Art-making happens here. No matter what. 

In the Spring, Alvernia Theatre Director and now-Chair of the Fine and Performing Arts Department committed to making theatre happen during these strange times. No matter what. 

Zoom-ed. Distance-d. Mask-ed. Phoned in. Filmed. 

This week, Theatre is happening at Alvernia University. Dance is happening. 

I'm so proud of this conglomeration of artists (young and not-so-young) who have banded together and demanded that the "Arts are Alive at Alvernia!" In 2020. 

Now, more than ever, we need to be embodied. We need to connect emotionally and physically. We need folks who will stand up as unconventional leaders who model vulnerability through live performance.

This team is doing that. 

Part of the magic of live performance is its perfect imperfection and impermanence. An element of that can be achieved through digital performances, now. It's imperfect, but it is creative. The doing and witnessing creates an energetic connection between performers, crew, and audience that can somewhat exist through the digital sphere. It's not perfect, but it's innovative and what we have available to us. We'll figure out how to make the most of this moment. 

Check out what's happening at Alvernia this week and next through Alvernia Theatre's YouTube Channel. 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Secrets for Dancing in Small Spaces - Tip 2

 I mentioned in Secrets for Dance in Small Spaces - Tip 1 that I've traveled a lot for dance. 

Traveling has inspired me to find multiple uses for things that I carry with me. I seek out props, tools and accessories that can have multiple uses. (Check out my Hacks for Dancers in For example and in addition, (in a pinch): 1. Lipstick can be used as blush. Slide the lipstick on your cheekbone and blend with your fingers. 2. Shampoo can be used as body wash. Create a lather. 3. Hand sanitizer can be used as a face wash (not makeup remover!). 4. Baby wipes have many uses. 5. As do hair ties (rubber bands), hair pins (paper clips), and hair spray (stop runs in tights on the spot! Or, keep those stray threads or ribbons from fraying more). 

Dance everywhere!
When it comes to dancing in small spaces, I love a simple yoga mat. Most yoga mats are about 6' long by 2' wide and less than .5'' in thickness, depending on how you think of the dimensions. I don't always carry a yoga mat with me, because that's extra bulk. I have digested those dimensions as a general guideline for my ability to engage in a full-body practice in any space. 

1. In Tip 1, I suggested focusing movement in one plane. A yoga mat provides a visual guideline for these planes. 

2. A yoga mat can be placed on uneven surfaces to provide consistency. Most mats are squishy and a little bit sticky. However, if a dancer is working on carpet, tile, bricks, or some other uneven surface, a yoga mat can provide ground-level consistency and a bit of shock absorption. But! - yoga mats can be sticky. Socks and specific shoes can help mitigate the risks of dancing on a sticky surface. I encourage you to test and try out what works for you. 

3. Jumping can be dangerous in ideal circumstances (which include but aren't limited to proper training, sprung floor and adequate shoes). Jumping in small spaces in dangerous. If a dancer has a great desire to jump, a yoga mat can be folded and laid down to provide a soft landing surface for small jump practice. This might include soutes from first and second position, soutes on one foot with the other in pase or coupe, and changemonts. I strongly discourage working on big leaps in a small space. More on that in Tip 3.  

I also discourage working on turns in a small space. (Again, stay tuned for Tip 3.)

4. Focus on alignment. The squishiness of a yoga mat can demand that a practitioner focus on alignment. The extra "give" might invite the body to compensate to achieve a particular form. I suggest slowing down (more in Tip 3) to recognize one's personal habits and weaknesses in order to achieve a safe and healthy form and alignment. In regular practice, the body will make these patterns habit and will "revert" to these adjustments when faced with new dance surfaces. This will allow dancing longer and dancing stronger. 

5. Make your practice a ritual. In her book, The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life, Twyla Tharp suggests that a ritual begins with taking an initial step.  For some yogi's this begins with rolling out the mat. For some dancers, putting on tights. For you, perhaps rolling down from the top of the spine, reorganizing some furniture, or starting a specific playlist. Once that initial act is started, the rest will organically fall into place. 

Admittedly, this takes time. The practice of doing takes time. The recognition takes time. And sometimes the response takes time. I encourage you to commit to the initial start. I've laid out my mat many times and it has sat there for a few days before I could return. But, during that in-between time, I knew it was there and waiting for me. I (and those in my bubble) moved around it in my space during that waiting time, acknowledging its importance. 

 6. A place for any practice. Rolling out a mat means that you have started. It means you've committed to a something that goes beyond what already exists. It's a movement that says "I trust what will happen next in this space." Engage in a stretch and strengthening practice. Follow a YouTube video. Do Pilates. Perform a ballet barre. Dive into a segmented contemporary dance warm up. Click onto one of the many virtual platforms and connect through a virtual and physical space. Know your body and use the mat as an example of creative restrictions and possibilities. 

7. More than a mat. An instructor at Drexel Pilates suggested that if I didn't have a long foam roller, I could roll my yoga mat and lay my spine down on it for a restorative opening of my shoulders and chest. To achieve this, roll up your mat tightly. Lay it down and lie on it so your spine is supported by the long side and the rest of your body can drip over and around it (like hot fudge dripping over ice cream.) Wow! In the age of Covid, this was a powerful release. A folded or rolled mat can also be a bolster for a seated meditation, stretch, or too much computer time.

What are some of the creative ways you've used your mat?

Saturday, October 24, 2020

NDEO Persisted

 The National Dance Education Organization has persisted in developing a deeper sense of community during Covid-19 through regular webinars (that are recorded and can be watched later), digital communications, and virtual meet-ups where folks from various sectors can come together and share things that are working (and those that aren't) during these strange times. 

NDEO's first virtual conference is this weekend. 

JCWK Dance Lab artist Laura Baehr and I presented on the process of HOMEbody. 

I also shared some of the tools I use to practice performance, in the Zoom-studio and in-person studio. 

Thanks, NDEO for keeping us connected so that we can keep connecting, learning, and growing as dancers and people! 

Monday, October 12, 2020

Secrets for Dancing in Small Spaces - Tip 1

 Years of touring and traveling to perform, choreograph, teach and rehearse taught me to warm up in some strange places. Even when I give presentations, I want to feel like I am fully prepared to perform - because every presentation is a type of performance. So, I'll warm up. 

Hotel rooms, hallways, office spaces, porches, tiny dressing rooms, green rooms and backstage spaces have all been my "studio". 

Some of the lessons I've learned are particularly helpful during these strange times when dancing is limited to our isolated spaces. Folks who are able to get into a studio, while masked, still need to maintain distance in space. (Shout out to all of those studio spaces who have taken the time and effort to mark out DanceUSA's space recommendations and are super sanitizing!) 

Here are some of the things I've learned. 

Secrets for Dancing in Small Spaces - Tip 1:

Work in one plane. 

There are three anatomical planes of the body. Most dance practice moves through and engages all of these planes, but it's possible to just work in one plane. 

For example, undulations, flat backs/ tabletops, tendues/ degages, developes, fondus, grande battmonts can all be isolated in the sagittal plane (front and back). The body's facing can rotate to execute laterals, tendues/ degages, developes, fondus, grande battmonts in the coronal/ horizontal/ toaster plane (side to side). 

Strength and flexibility exercises derived from Yoga and Pilates often isolate into these planes. 

I challenge dancers to use the tools they have available to them to create warm up phrases that dance so that the body can fully warm up while engaging all of the methodologies that dance employs: joy, wellness of physical and mental bodies, strength, flexibility, movement flow, creativity, artistry, technical prowess, and whole body connectivity (among many others).  

What is a dance technique warm up that you can isolate into specific planes? Share a video of yourself moving in the comments! 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Published Reviews for The Other Side of the Window Screen

 Thank you to everyone who has already participated in The Other Side of the Window Screen. We've had an incredible audience response and the Fringe Arts Fringe 2020 still has a few more weeks! 

Here's what the reviewers are saying...

Camille Bacon-Smith wrote in Broad Street Review:

"Arms are often held up, angled or outstretched, as if the dancers are reaching for something just out of their grasp. Home, maybe - a concept we perpetually seek, but seldom find. When I thought of "home" in the piece, though, I envisioned not a place but the bodies we inhabit, the lived bodies of the dancers, and our own bodies as we unconsciously synchronize with the movement on the screen."

Read more here.

By Jane Fries for's The Dance Journal

"...evokative of sci-fi royality, they burst into digital life..."

"HOMEbody is a dance of shifting moods..."

"...liquid movements... precise yet curiously enigmatic..."

"quietly transporting"

Read more of Jane Fries's review by clicking here. 

Friday, August 28, 2020

HOMEbody - audience comments

Included below is some of the written feedback we received from the live presentations of HOMEbody. In person, the performance consisted of a spoken welcome, a guided body scan, my solo Shed, Jake Buczewski's mini-documentary, and the 34 minute HOMEbody. 

Audience comments from November 2019 in Reading, PA. Presented by Alvernia University. 

~reminded me of the beautiful lines of ballet, modern, very European. I loved the foundation of the work and the continuity of the movement. 

~ It evoked feelings of a story told within the dance. Deeply personal. Though I am interested in what evoked some of the movements, they belong personal. Part of the intrigue...


~ It was a wonderful exploration of what home feels like to me and how I identify with my feelings of "home" and comfort. 

~ Get the word out! Quickly! Performances like this should be sold out. 

~ Wonderful to see such high quality dance in Berks County. 

~Loved it! So happy you are here and doing this work. 

~ Amazing Talent!

~ First experience with interpretative dance. Left me feeling I could watch the performance over and over again - so much to unpack. Very beautiful. 

Audience comments from February 2020 in Philadelphia, PA. 

~Inner struggles. Interpersonal connection and turmoil. 

~ Impressive and moving! Keep up the great work! 

~ Contentment, beauty, comfort

~ Lovely performance. 

~ The two solos reminded me of babies learning about their bodies and exploring them. Maybe it's because I'm a new mom, but this reminds me that my body was my baby's first home. And now she and I are learning to be comfortable in our bodies and they both develop in new ways. I saw the solos before but it's very interesting to see them in the context of the whole. 

~ Music + Dance = Excellent! 

~ Trust. Vulnerability. Suffering. Healing. 

~ The complexities of relationships with those close to you. 

We'll continue to update with comments from Fringe 2020!

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Behind the Movement - Adaptations

Thanks to everyone who's shared in Reading Theater Project's Adaptations! 

I've been thinking and reflecting and writing, but not posting publicly because I think there are folks whose voices need to be louder than mine. They need to be heard and lifted up. I've been reaching out and doing work quietly through Covid isolation, but I've missed the sense of connection and community that being around/ moving around other people provides. 

I'm grateful for the challenge from Reading Theater Project to participate in Adaptations. Click here to check out Artistic Director Vicki Haller Graff's introduction to the experiment. 

Chris Hesslop share his inspiration for elements of the music. In collaborating about one of four musical options, Vicki and I settled on HiLo. Here's what Chris had to say about HiLo:

The musical piece is called HiLo. In case you don't want to watch the short video above, Chris described that the adaptation of HiLo was taking two ends of the musical scale, putting them together and seeing what might develop. 

As I reflected on the music and my own feelings about the past few months, I began to appreciate the paradox of opposites. I tried to similarly play with as many opposites as I could fit into a short rehearsal/ filming time frame and length of the total work. Some of those opposites included:

A digital platform (video) to present a natural form (outdoor landscape, human body).

Clear technological edits and digital manipulation of the human body.

Business attire against a natural landscape.

A collared shirt-dress and bare feet. 

Framing and constricted audience views against an open space. 

Light and shadow.

Movement and stillness. 

Sound and silence.

What else do you see? 

Check out the full Experiment Event here: RTP's Adaptations

Friday, July 24, 2020


Black Lives Matter.
BIPOC Lives Matter.
LGBTQ Lives Matter.

Yes, all lives matter, but we need to start being specific because "all" has not referred to "all" in US/ American history.

In the Declaration of Independence, "all men are created equal" did not refer to women or people of color or Native Americans. I was taught in elementary school that the male gender in language was used to refer to groups. Perhaps that language needs to change too.

I've been quiet, publicly because I've been doing a lot of work off-line. I've been reading, hearing, asking questions, reflecting, asking more questions, doing more research.

I'm angry. These issues have been prevalent and relevant for over 100 years. We've been in a social and public crisis for over a century in terms of equity (of gender, of pay, of education, of access, of rights...). What's different now?

Lack of leadership?
Awareness (although not necessarily a-woke-ness) through the internet?

I've been publicly quiet because I think there are voices that need to be heard over mine. There are voices that are more important than mine. Please Listen!

Reading Theater Project is working to adapt to these voices and changes enhanced by the world pandemic. I'm grateful to have been challenged out of my own darkness to find adaptations.

Please check out the project.

Reserve your free ticket by clicking here. 

Read about the adventure by clicking here. 

Thanks, in advance!

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Dance Quarantine VII

Join JCWK Dance Lab as part of Dixon Place's Dance Quarantine VII curated by Sangeeta Yesley/ Creative performances.

When: Friday, June 5th at 7:30pm
Where: Dixon Place TV
What: Creative Performances is sharing work created in response to the Covid-19 lockdown.

For more info, click here.

Screenshot from Dixon Place website

Monday, May 25, 2020

Some Gave All

This Memorial Day, its especially poignant to remember those who have granted us the freedom to
... disagree
... create
... gather
... be separate
... continue
... question
... celebrate
... mourn

Some Gave All... and some of us don't realize what All has been given.

"Thank you" will never be enough.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Dancing and Drawing Gratitude with Dixon Place

Thanks so much to Sangeeta Yesley and Creative Performances at Dixon Place in NYC for the chance to collaborate with visual artists around the theme of "Gratitude" this Memorial Day weekend. Email to sign up!

Click here for more info about the in-person series. It continues despite the challenges of Covid-19.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Zoom as a choreographic tool - tech considerations

No matter the context, Zoom (or any virtual meeting) is a type of performance. We get to choose how and what our audience sees and how we respond in real time. This is similar to practicing performance in the dance studio classroom or rehearsal space. We make conscious decisions about how we present ourselves while in the process of learning and growing. It is a practice to make decisions in preparation and in real time.

Here are some of the things I've learned from the Zoom-field:

1. Set. What is your "set"? What are you inviting your audience to see and learn about you through the way you create and order your space? When I'm teaching, I understand that I'm getting a private look into my students' lives, based on their space. I need to be aware of how, where, and when they're moving. Some folks are working on carpet or uneven flooring. Some only have the space of a yoga mat. Some are in a different time zone. As I prepare them (and myself) for performance, I remind them that their "set" also becomes part of the performance. Do they want their closet door open and if so, what is the process of making that choice? What do "we" as "audience" members learn about them from their "set"? How does their set inform the narrative of the work? Should it? Conversely, if one chooses to use a virtual background, what does that say about their "character" (both the choice NOT to share their space and where they choose to place themselves)?

2. Costume. How does a dancer choose to "costume" themself? This is not only about a) choices of exposure, b) choices in ability to move, and c) choices in design, but also d) choices in color. Based on how the set is arranged, costume color may be a factor in seeing the movement. For example, when I was arranging my space to teach and perform on Zoom, I initially created a "black box" to reduce light (more on lighting coming up) and create a seamless line of vision for my audience. (My "studio space" is being borrowed from an otherwise colorful and crowded room.) However, I quickly learned that, because most of my work/dance clothes are black, I blended into my set. This was resolved with light colored sheets. I've also come to realize that loose-fitting clothes are not ideal for seeing the lines of the body. In person, they may accentuate the flow of the movement, but that often can be lost in the chance bandwidth of virtual performance. 

3. Lighting. If a dancer stands between a light source and the camera/ computer, the dancer is backlit and in silhouette. Most computer cameras don't capture this as clearly as a professional photographer, videographer, or the human eye. If a dancer stands under a light, the detail clarity is better. The best option I've discovered is an additional light behind the computer camera shining at the dancer. Like most lighting situations, having light shining directly into your eyes is not ideal for performing or balance, but we're talking about adjusting for and to the audience, in this context. In addition, please be aware of the sun. In live performance situations, presenters and theatre directors have taken care to control most aspects of the space, including ways to block the sun. But, depending on your space, the sun could enhance your lighting or be a distraction. Sunlight through windows is a wonderful addition to our indoor, isolated lives. The opportunity to be outside in nature with some Vitamin D is a gift. But, filtered sunlight in a virtual space can be blinding and distorting. Again, choose your lighting with awareness. 

4. Angle of audience. Distance + an upward sight angle for the audience in person = psychological elevation of performance, a range of sight-lines, and choices for the audience to witness the performance. With virtual meeting platforms, most "sight-lines" are close up and the upward angle is less flattering than it can be with distance. This can often be controlled "behind the scenes" with additional props and angling of the digital device. 

5. Distance of audience. Most of the digital meeting platforms are designed to focus on the face of an individual. Dance is usually designed for the entire body to be viewed. Body part dances can be made with the focus on just one part of the body, but a dancer needs to play with their space in order for a full body shot to be visible. Distance away from the recording devices is necessary for a full body shot. This might not be possible in all spaces. But with careful awareness to set, lighting, angle of movement, additional props, and sound, a consciousness performance experience can be created. 

6. Angle of movement. Digital platforms present in two-dimensional movement. I've found that angling the body on croise allows for more of a three-dimensional experience of movement. (croise with an accent over the e). Movement that is presented "flat" front or side can be lost, especially if part of the movement is away from the recording device. 

7. Mute yourself. Sound travels and just as a performer needs to be quiet backstage, a Zoom-performer needs to be aware of the other sounds in their space. Many live theatres and performance spaces are equipped with devices to transmit or muffle sound effectively. Most personal spaces aren't designed this way so, please still silence or turn off your phones and other noise making devices during the performance. If you're sharing music, there are a lot of tutorials for the best ways to do this on your platform. Thank you to all of the folks who have taken the time to share their best sound practices while social distancing.

I'm learning as I'm going and I'm grateful for the collaborations of other artists and professionals.

What have you learned? What are some of your Zoom best practices? 

Screen shot of my performance in Dr. Nathan Thomas's live-streamed Zoom play "The Feast" performed on 4/22/2020. Yep, it's blurry. Such is Zoom-life. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Zoom as a choreographic tool - chance bandwith

JCWK Dance Lab artists had a rehearsal in preparation for our inaugural Ten Tiny Dances - Virtual #quarantineart premier.

In leading my university students through a Zoom creative process, I've been impressed with the ability to see and create unison movement, despite differences in internet space and bandwidth.

In rehearsal with Sarena and Laura, I learned that I can see my students in unison because I've viewing from the outside. There's a delay in real time, I'm just not seeing the delay.

I had anticipated that Sarena, Laura and I could come together to create a unison sequence that would be recorded and then uploaded to the video-making platform. But, what Sarena and Laura heard and saw was delayed from my real time. The Zoom recording caught the speaker's perspective. Sarena and Laura were in unison in the recording but I was not. I wonder, if someone else on another device was doing the recording, all three of us would appear in unison.

Questions and applications for next time.

So, I did a pivot (ball change) in real time for a real rehearsal process taking place in the virtual sphere.

Could the delay in bandwidth be another opportunity for chance operations? How much can't we control - and really, what gets lost in the few seconds that digital information is being whirled through space?

I'm imagining that scene from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory where the child is sent in little pieces across the room... what gets lost when we're not perceiving each other in real time? (I was tempted to find a video clip to insert here, but I'll just challenge you to use your memory and imagination instead of innodating you with another digital interruption.)

As I edited the video, I realized that the effects of the blips and internet lags in the Zoom recording could have been created with editing in the post-rehearsal production process. But, I wonder again, if there's something to be gained in the perception of the real blips in real time through a third filtered lens and digital process.

How many times can you copy a copy?

I've heard from professional videographers and photographers that, although the zoom-in feature on a device is helpful, there is more "life" in the resulting product if the photographer actually moves toward or away from the object in focus. Personally, this life (or maybe absence of) also feels true in watching my Zoom rehearsal.

I'm learning more that I don't want to edit what's happening in real time. I don't want to think or assume or project that perfection can be achieved if we can just click the "undo" tab and try again. The action and the trying again is part of the process and the journey. There are no footprints or artifacts from which to learn or derive meaning if we just "undo" to redo. Again. and again. and again.

Life is messy. Creating dance is messy. The opportunity to learn and grow from and within the mess is brilliant and beautiful. I don't want to edit the messiness away.

Screen shot from the editing process of "InterruptingMayhem". 
May we continue to learn the value of time, process, and growth during this beautiful mess.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Zoom as a Choreographic Tool - Inspiration

Welcome to this Brave New World of creative placemaking in virtual space! 

I'm so grateful and inspired by the artists who have taken to virtual tools and social media to create and share their work through videos, live feed classes, and streams of previously produced live performances. Thank you, for your continued work and voice during these strange times! 

Several weeks ago, I received a request from Dr. Nathan Thomas, Theatre Director of Alvernia Theatre and professor at Alvernia University. He invited me to participate in a live Zoom play. This was/ is the first live performance in which I had participated on the virtual stage. I've witnessed live music performances, classes, readings, and in-process activity like rehearsals, but nothing that had the expectation of a theatrical performance. Of course, performance itself is a process and an experiment in real time. 

The result of "The Feast" was personally incredible. I physically felt the connection between the other folks who were performing. I could feel the energy of the audience. As in non-social-distancing-live-performance, there was a something palatable circling within those participating as actors and as audience. 

Screen shot of my performance in "The Feast"

Describing this magic was challenging during "normal" times. I'm struggling for words during this virtual time. (Perhaps, that's why I dance...)

I've spent many hours on Zoom in the past few weeks, but this experiment demonstrated to me that there is a space for live performance in this strange new time. 

With the play, I was the only one who moved away from the screen. The other performers stayed close to their devices, as we do when we're video conferencing. 

I've learned a lot about negotiating my space, lighting, and clothing from teaching dance over Zoom and creating videos to be streamed. In these first few weeks, I also learned a lot about separating my students into groups and leading them in "watching" each other and "practicing performing" through Zoom. I've discovered real excitement in sharing, performing, and watching from both my experience as a teacher/leader/ choreographer/ performer and the students' experiences as performers/ audience members/ learners. 

Could I combine my experience as a virtual performer in Alvernia Theatre's "The Feast," and the things I've learned from teaching over the past few weeks on Zoom, with my knowledge of a choreographer and producer? 

::drum roll::

A million thanks to Drexel University's Dance Program and the Drexel Dance Ensemble for encouraging this research! 

Dr. Miriam Giguere (Director of the Drexel Dance Ensemble and Drexel's FreshDance Ensemble, Chair of the Performing Arts Department in Drexel University's Westphal College of Media and Design, President of the Pennsylvania Dance Education Organization, and all around amazing woman) suggested that I work with the Drexel Ensemble Class I was teaching and direct the students in a live performance at our end of term meeting. Thank you for your support, enthusiasm, and leadership, Dr. Miriam! Thank you, also for permission to write about this journey here!

I also want to give a shout out to Sandra Parks (Director of Drexel's Dance Program, Director of Women in Dance, and all around amazing woman). Much of Sandra's research has been in digital collaboration with our physical medium and she has been an inspiration in virtual dancing space during these past few weeks. Thank you, Sandra! 

And... thank you to my Ensemble dancers who agreed to embark on this Brave New World of virtual creative placemaking and performance. (They all, individually, gave me permission to take this risk with them, write about the process, and post pictures from rehearsals.) I'm so proud of the ways they've invested in their own bodies and their creative voices - through practicing safe dancing techniques in non-traditional dance spaces, voicing openness and awareness about the restrictions and opportunities of their space, and their enthusiasm for coming together twice a week. We are not limited by little square boxes!

Over the next few weeks, I'll be sharing more about this journey. 

Thanks for joining this adventure. Stay tuned! 

Zoom-ing about the choreographic process with my Drexel Dancers. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Ten Tiny Dances - Virtual

Over the past several years, Sarah Carlson (Founder and Artistic Director of Dance Link) has been producing Ten Tiny Dances. Ten Tiny Dances is a format developed by Mike Barber in 2002, designed to present short dances on a small stage.

This year, Sarah is making the most of our social isolation and producing a virtual version of the concert.

JCWK Dance Lab is participating! I'll be sharing space with Laura Baehr and Sarena Kabakoff.

Other artists include:
L'Ana Burton
Clare Byrne
Sarah Carlson
Megan Flynn
Amy Larimer
Sharon Mansur
Julia & Daniel Mayo
Jessica Mitcham
Alex Pobiedzinski

Join us on Facebook for a live watch party on Saturday, May 9th at 7pm, EST.

Click here for the Facebook Event Page.

Happy International Dance Day!

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Feasting in the time of Plague

Click here tonight (Wednesday, 4/22) at 7:30pm Eastern Time.

Dr. Nathan Thomas is directing a virtual play. I'm performing!

How does live, embodied performance art continue when we live in this virtual sphere? This is new research and we're finding out.

Friday, April 17, 2020

A dance for love

Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers would have opened their 2020 Home Season today, but because of Covid19, their work, like the rest of the world, has been shuttered.

But not silenced.

We need art, movement, connection and dance more than ever.

KYL/D is sharing their 2017 performance of Santuario online today only.

This performance is very special to me because we began the process shortly after and in response to the Pulse nightclub shooting. I became pregnant during the process and performed 7 months pregnant.

There are so many layers to this performance. Please take a moment today to watch:
KYL/D's Santuario

KYL/D's Santuario, 2017. Photo by Mike Hurwitz

Friday, April 3, 2020

The beat goes on

A million thanks to the organizations and individuals who are offering their gifts and talents to the virtual world during these times.

In dance there are a range of opportunities for folks to take class from their isolated locations. These platforms are just a few of the many that are offering a range of dancing opportunities - from Ballet to Bollywood and House to Horton techniques:

Dancing Alone Together
Dance for PD (Dance classes for folks with Parkinson's Disease go live from Brooklyn!)

Stay tuned for more...!

Dance where you can! Photo by Justin King

Let the music play...!

Paul Fejko (dear friend and collaborator) is hosting virtual concerts from Andre's Acoustique Cafe. Follow Paul on Facebook or check them out on your own time here. 

The Boscov's Berks Jazz Fest in conjunction with the Berks Arts Council has postponed their live 30th anniversary Festival, but they're going virtual! Check out their virtual concerts here.

Paul Fejko's virtual concerts

Monday, March 30, 2020

I grieve for... I'm grateful for...

How are you?

I have to admit, I've been simultaneously motivated to try and figure out what I can do and paralyzed. What can I do?

Scott Berinato, writing for the Harvard Business Review, reminds us that we will be feeling grief during this time. And to honor that. There is much to grieve.

But I also believe that there is much for which to be grateful. Even when we are immediately (or for the foreseeable future) struggling.

In the moments when I'm down, I've begun a practice. I state the things for which I'm grieving, mourning, and fear.

Having acknowledged them, I can also state things for which I'm grateful, even if they're in the past.

For example, I'm grieving a chance to explore my creative process with other dancers in the studio. But, I'm grateful that we re-scheduled HOMEbody for February.

I'm grieving physical interaction with folks who have been mentoring me this year. I'm grateful for online practices just as email and Zoom.

I'm grieving the loss of financial and economic security for many of my peers, students, and friends. I'm grateful for independent organizations and individuals who are stepping up to help the arts and the increased awareness of the importance of the gig economy. And... the motivation to do something about these insecurities.

What are you grieving? For what are you grateful?

Pic by Bicking Photography

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Just for Fun - wash your hands! #Covid19

We all need a little bit of Joy and Connection as we navigate our own Kinesthetic experiences. Practice Wellness, friends!

Take care! 

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Tiny dances for new times - Covid19 Creative Challenge 1

Friends, the Covid-19 excitement is presenting challenges for us all. Please stay safe. Please take all precautions recommended by the CDC (or your respective governments if you're reading this outside of the US).

In the meantime, as we're spending more time in one spot, this is an opportunity to be creative!

We'll be developing new habits in the coming days. Let's make them fun!

So... here's my #Covid19CreativeChallenge #Covid19Dance! (Post to social media or just send it out to the Universe. I feel your energy!)

The song "Happy Birthday" is about 4 counts of 8 in 4/4 time. (12345678. 12345678. 12345678. 12345678.) 4/4 time can be described as "walking time;" so, image counting to 8 as you take steps in your natural pace.

Singing "Happy Birthday" twice is the recommended time for washing hands during this time (and probably anytime).


Create a dance that can be done WHILE YOU WASH YOUR HANDS that is 8 counts of 8.

Post it here in the comments or where ever you post with the tags: #covid19dance #danceeverywhere #getcreative #jcwkdancelab

Paul Fejko has created a special version of "Happy Birthday" to get you started:

Check out more of Paul's music by clicking here.

I look forward to seeing your dances! 

Stay tuned for more....!

Sunday, March 8, 2020

March 8, 2020

Happy International Women's Day.

Today it's my wish that we can take pause and remember that we are not alone.

The joys and challenges we face, we face together - as a cohort, as a community, as a partnership, and as a family.

May you be a support. May you find support.

Photo by Ellen Rosenberg Photography

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Continuing the conversation - HOMEbody in Reviews

Thank you, everyone who came to HOMEbody!

I had to close the box office on the morning of the show because we were already sold out. Thank you to the folks who reserved tickets in advance and thank you to the folks who came to the door!

Thank you to everyone for continuing the conversations of HOMEbody in your feedback and through the reviews.

I'm grateful for each of these reviews because they allow the conversation of HOMEbody to continue in the public view. So much of these stories don't get to have a public conversation... thank you!!

Thank you, Lewis Whittington and for recognizing that "the dance is the things that ultimately drives it all home."

Read more of Lew's addition to this conversation here. 

Melissa Strong from The Broad Street Review had a plethora of experiences within the performance that she details in her review.  Thanks, Melissa, for accepting the challenge of embodying your own home and experiencing your own story through "visually appealing and whole-hearted dancing... HOMEbody was thoughtfully conceived and skillfully performed".

"Home is when we breathe together," reflects ThINKingDANCE author Leslie Bush. "HOMEbody is a piece that abstracts and distills its central concept" Bush writes.

"There is a language in HOMEbody, even if I can't decipher it. I'm okay with this; I know I'm seeing someone's idea of home and that is enough." ~Leslie Bush

Photo by Juliana Wall Photography

Saturday, February 22, 2020

HOMEbody 022220 - things to know before you go

Dear Friends,

We're so excited to see you tonight!

Here are some things to know before you go:

1. Where is the show?
KYL/D's CHI Movement Arts Center in South Philly. The address is 1316 S 9th St Philadelphia, PA 19147.

2. How do I get there?
Here's a link with directions to CHI Mac. Click the link and scroll to the bottom of the page.

3. Is there parking?
There's free, on-street parking. If you're driving, please allow extra time to find a spot.

4. How long is the show?
The performance is 60 minutes without an intermission.

5.  Is there assigned seating?
CHI Mac is an intimate space. There is no assigned seating. Please come early to choose your seat.

6. Are tickets available at the door?
At this point, it looks like we're sold out. Thank you!

7. What time is the performance?

8. Is there someplace to eat/ get a drink in the area?
Yes! There are a lot of places around CHI Mac. Click here to explore the East Passyunk neighborhood. 

9. I'd like to know more about the process!
Please click here for more information about the collaborative team and research process.

Thank you so much! We look forward to seeing you tonight!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Layers of listening

Musician/ composer/ community builder Paul Fejko and I have worked together on several projects. HOMEbody is the second long-form piece that Paul has created for me and I'm so grateful for his insight, the way he listens, and the way he hears.

As I did with the dancers and with videographer Jake Buczewski, Paul and I had many conversations not just about home, but also about aesthetic and audience development and process. The collaborative process wasn't just about the theme of the work, but also about the who we are as artists and why this work is important at this time.

I listen to Paul's soundscore as I'm driving - and I drive a lot. It's allowed me to listen when I'm focused and when my mind is drifting. It's allowed me to inhabit the sound in a way different than when I'm moving.

The score for HOMEbody is layered. There are layers of light and joy and happiness. There are layers of struggle and confusion and constraint. There are opportunities where positive energies and challenging energies coexist. There are moments when it's up to the listener to decide what they hear and to what they'll pay attention.

The more I listen, the more I appreciate how much Paul has heard all of the nuances I wanted to embed into this creative journey.

Thanks, Paul!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Pick of the week....?

Thank you, for making HOMEbody your "Pick of the Week"!! 

Get tickets here. 

More info here. 

Friday, February 14, 2020

Dance Artist Reflection - Home:Love

Home: Love
by Sarena Kabakoff

No sense of place.
No sense of home.
The words sound so harsh and hard as they fall through my mind
They point me to the realization that my homes have been so soft
My mother singing to me before bed each night
The smell of fresh-baked cookies in the over
My dad devouring novel after novel over the rim of his eyeglasses

And this softness,
These memories
Allow me to be soft
Give me the agency to feel safe
To feel helf
To move softly
To breathe
To settle

And that is the mother of self-security
That is the mother of success
It gives birth to belief in myself
To believe in the completeness of the beings around me
To show myself enough to be loved

And I am so grateful to be more into this soft place
Where I was held and taken care of.
Where I could be curious.
So now that I have grown
I can still cradle the memories
Of being loved more than I could ever know.

"My brother and I" by Jake Buczewski

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Wheels of Light 2009-2020

Let's take a minute with all of the 2020 memes and jokes about 2020 vision, reflection, insight... (feel free to include your favs in the comments).


In all seriousness, I was really excited that Reading Theater Project's 2020 5-Minute Fringe Festival theme was "Mirror" with a focus on women. 

I was also excited (albeit a little aggravated) that their performances coincided with my scheduled performance of HOMEbody in Philadelphia.

But all things that are meant to be will find a way.

Reading-based dance artist Emily Coppa agreed to join JCWK Dance Lab and embody Wheels of Light for RTP's 5-Minute Fringe. (Thank you, Emily!)

And it's with 2020 vision (kinda?) that I return to Wheels of Light. 

This was an opportunity to revisit this solo and the academic and embodied research. The process of Wheels of Light, in 2009, was a catalyst in defining my current artistic vision and philosophy. This process in 2020 is allowing me to realize some of the goals and dreams I began forming 11 years ago - in developing my artistic community and creating opportunities for professional level concert dance.

A mirror allows us to see one version of ourself and each mirror provides a different perspective. A mirror allows us to see what's behind us in addition to an immediate reflection of ourself in the moment.

RTP's Fringe 2020 and HOMEbody 2020 is an opportunity to reflect on what's in my past while simultaneously taking a realistic look at the artist I've become.

Click here for a look back at my original research. 

Pic by Bill Hebert

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Dance Artist Reflection - Naked in Our Home

Naked in Our Home
By Sarena Kabakoff

Home gives us a feigned sense of constancy
A totem of trust
It is the door that we open
After we are downtrodden from the day
When our muscles feel weak
And our eyelids long to surrender

It is a place we seek refuge
It is a place we look to reignite our flames
It is where we show the pieces of ourselves
That we hide from the outside
Everything is bared
Naked in our home

HOMEbody. Pic by Thomas Kay.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Reading Theater Project's 2020 Fringe Festival

I'm excited to be participating in Reading Theater Project's 5-Minute Fringe again in 2020!

This year, I'm revisiting Wheels of Light - a solo I created in 2009. The research process eleven years ago deeply influenced my artistic voice.

I'm setting the work on Reading-based dance artist Emily Coppa. Welcome to JCWK Dance Lab, Emily!

Performances are at the Yocum Institute for Arts Education on February 20-22 at 8pm and February 23 at 2pm.

Click here for more info on RTP's 5-Minute Fringe Festival and tickets.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Do It Local!

JCWK Dance Lab's on Do It Local!

As part of my resolution to connect more in 2020, we've partnered with Do It Local - an awesome, community-focused app that offers digital deals from locally-owned businesses.

You can connect, too! Here's how:

1. Click here:

2. Enter JCWK Dance Lab's Membership code when you purchase a membership: FCEC4F63 (A portion of your purchase is donated to JCWK Dance Lab; part goes toward making Do It Local possible and 100% of that goes to getting you discounts from local businesses all year!)

3. Create an account on the website by using your email address and creating a password.

4. Download the Do It Local App onto your phone from iTunes App Store (Apple) or Google Play App Store (Android).

5. Open the Do It Local App on your smartphone and login using the email address and password you created.

6. Start saving! Start supporting! Start discovering more in Berks, Lehigh, and Lancaster counties!

Thank you, Do It Local and all of the folks and businesses who are involved! 
"Without a sense of caring, there can be no sense of community." ~Anthony Burgess 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Sharing stories on BCTV

Thank you, Meggan Kerber, Executive Director of the Berks Arts Council and BCTV for the opportunity to talk about the Arts in Berks County!

Meggan and I had an exciting and engaging conversation about the possibilities and opportunities in Reading, specifically through the Arts at Alvernia University! Our evening was live on BCTV, but you can watch it over and over again here: