Friday, December 29, 2023

Break at the Barre

The week between December 24th and January 2nd is often referred to as "the dead week."

Two major holidays occur within a matter of days. 

Most kiddos have off from school. 

Many people don't want to be at work, or aren't. 

Duration of sunlight gets a little bit longer everyday, but winter has just officially started. 

One year ends. Another begins. 

It's a time of transition. 


To honor this transition, JCWK Dance Lab partnered with the Pennsylvania Dance Education Organization (PADEO), Alvernia University, and musician Richard Maddock to bring you a Break at the Barre. 

It's my hope that the dancer in you will take a moment (or 32 minutes) during this time of transition to 

1) remember the Joy of dance

2) Connect with your imagination, your muscle memory, and your breath

3) pay attention to both your physical and mental Wellness

4) take advantage of this guided practice to explore your own Kinesthetic story

This practice is also focused on physically transitioning within the confines of a traditional ballet barre. I often say that I'm "bad" at transitions and that's why I practice them so heavily in my work. I've written that the world could be healed through plies. 

Let's start with one dance and one dancer. 

Let's start with you and this Break at the Barre. 


Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Welcome home for the holidays on the GRADE

Where is home for you? 

What do the holidays mean to you?

Home is Berks County, PA for me and many others. 

The holidays mean The Nutcracker Ballet for many dancers. 

I get really excited when artists who have achieved a level of international recognition acknowledge having roots in Berks County. 

Complexions Contemporary Ballet principal dancer, Jillian Davis, is one of those artists. She returned to Berks as a guest artist in Berks Ballet Theatre's annual "The Nutcracker" with the Reading Pops. 

Jillian was kind enough to sit down with me and share some of the layers of her story with me on JCWK Dance Lab presents The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange on 

Check out this promo: 

Watch the episode: 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Tiny Dances, Big Impact

 JCWK Dance Lab performed at DanceLink's Ten Tiny Dances at the Bethlehem SteelStacks on Dec. 16th. Dance Artist Arielle Ridley and I revisited a piece she performed in 2021, "No Thing."

At the time, we were still in Covid land. A lot has changed since then and it was fun to remember where we were in our bodies and in our mental/ emotional states. 

Thank you, DanceLink, for the opportunity to build our communities. It was such fun to meet new artists and audiences and to reconnect with some long-time friends. 

Thank you, Reading Theater Project and Sean Sassaman for giving us permission to remount the work. "No Thing" was originally created for RTP's "Mixed MESSages". Sean Sassaman wrote and recorded the soundscore. 

Thank you, Arielle, for continuing on this journey with me! 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

New York, New Adventure

JCWK Dance Lab is heading to NYC for the International Human Rights Arts Festival. We've been selected to perform on the Climate Change Action evening. 

It's been quite a few years since I've been to NYC. I'm excited to be joined by this group of artists. Check out what they're excited about: 

Saturday, November 18, 2023

New research, new logo. #NovemberRe(new)al

In researching design for business, I've found that dates are often associated with campaigns. 

As a creative entrepreneur, my research and development (in essence, a campaign) to create a series of products (staged performances) doesn't always align with calendar dates. 

The creative process has its own timeline. 

Artists listen to the work. Pay attention to the needs of the work. Adjust and adapt. Reframe. Rework. Renew. 

Capitalism and academia declare that we have deadlines. Life and creativity don't always fit into their neat models (but we try). 

Close cut to JCWK Dance Lab's work. I expected the "We Are StarDust" campaign to last 3-5 years at its inception. That's a long time for R & D. 

But here we are in 2023 and I've fallen from the stars to the earth with an interest in soil regeneration, agriculture and sustainable models for life, business, and food. 

I've also partnered with JerseyInk to do a super-quick merch sale. (Check out the Joy Looks Good on You post... because it does!)

To honor the process, I've decided to slightly alter JCWK Dance Lab's logo to reflect our current research. We're looking at soil regeneration, socio-cultural regeneration, business regeneration, and the sharing of stories across generations with our Cultural Exchange at The Heritage of Green Hills. 

I don't know how long this particular campaign will go on, but I'm excited. 

So, for this research period, JCWK Dance Lab's logo looks a little bit different. Get your merch now because it'll be different again in a little bit. You can track time and your journey with us through merch and our logo. 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Thanks, BerkOne and JerseyInk for creating Kinesthetic Stories!

In light of our acceptance to the International Human Rights Arts Festival, a friend asked if I could give them something tangible - a card or physical advertisement - to share with their family who lived in the area of the venue. 

I hadn't thought of creating a postcard for our local friends because the festival is in NYC and is doing their own marketing. We live in a digital world and printing is sometimes a questionable use of resources and impact. Research suggests that most printed materials get thrown out and not recycled appropriately. BUT, research also shows that tangible reminders create cognitive and emotional connections to a brand. (Read more on the science here.)

Great idea, Friend! Your suggestion developed an opportunity to 1) create a reminder of several of the projects we have going on right now, 2) increase our brand awareness, and 3) further Connect with our communities through Kinesthetic stories (now, tangible products, instead of movement).

So, I went to work. 

The team at BerkOne printed these quickly and beautifully. Thank you for helping us to share our Joy by Connecting with our communities in a tangible way! 

Another local company, JerseyInk, has been working diligently with us to develop some swag with our latest logo. I'm learning to listen to my communities and what they need. Read more about that process here. 

In addition to advertising the IHRAF, the post card allowed me to create a reminder for our online store, which is running for a limited time, right before the festival. Click here to check it out. 

Check out the postcards: 

Thanks, BerkOne! Thanks, JerseyInk! Thanks, Friends, for inspiring me to think and work differently than I would have on my own!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Joy looks good on you!

For a limited time (only until November 27!) JCWK Dance Lab swag with our current research logo is available.

I'm making small adjustments to our logo as we embark on a new campaign and adventure. You can still get some "We Are StarDust" gear by clicking here. 

Click here to get your Regeneration inspired merch! 

So... why swag and why now? 

As JCWK Dance Lab is growing - in our artistry and in our outreach, I recognize that branding is important. Visual elements - like clothing - build community and create a sense of belonging. So many people are personally supporting our work and mission on a weekly basis. I want to say "thank you" by creating a visual expression for us to physically support each other and be reminded of JCWK Dance Lab's mission of Creating Joy, Connection and Wellness through Kinesthetic stories when we're not together. 

Research takes time. So, instead of getting new gear every year, I'm adjusting the logo to represent our current research. Currently, I'm investigating "regeneration" which is a movement in the agricultural world and also in the business world. 

JersyInk is a local company - so in purchasing JCWK Dance Lab merch, you're multiplying your local support. 

The swag they have is SUPER SOFT! 

And Joy looks good on everyone! 

Thank you, Tyson-Schoener Elementary!


Thank you, Tyson- Schoener Elementary School for inviting us into your space and dancing with us! We experienced so much Joy Connecting with you through movement! 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

November re(NEW)al

 "Autumn leaves shower, like gold, like rainbows as winds of change begin to blow." 

~ Dan Millman

Hi, Friend!

Happy November! 

The change of seasons is clearly evident where I am. The trees blaze with rainbows of orange, gold, red and brown. The morning grass glitters with frost and my breath visibly dance on the air as I exhale. 

What is changing where you are? What has shifted in your world?

For JCWK Dance Lab, September and October were months of pausing after a plethora of performances in 2023. In July, the company began developing monthly hashtags to keep us focused on our mission and engage in some social media fun. #JulyJoy and #AugustAdventure led us into #SelfCareSeptember and #OctoberObjectives. 

We're now in #NovemberRe(NEW)al. (November Renewal)

November reNEWal news! I'm thrilled to share that JCWK Dance Lab has been invited and accepted into the International Human Rights Arts Festival in NYC. The Festival is in December, has five areas of focus, and over 55 performances. We are sharing our latest research project, Regeneration, during the evening focused on Climate Change Action. 

Regeneration is an organic growth from our "We Are StarDust" campaign of the past three years. Like meteorites, we've moved from the stars into the earth and are exploring research initiated by the Rodale Institute. The Rodale Institute is an international leader in soil regeneration and organic farming practices (and is also located in my hometown of Berks County, PA).

I'm over the moon to be recognized for our work in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) and positive social change through IHRAF. I'm also honored that JCWK Dance Lab is aligned with the constellation of social and political stars that support the Festival. Some of them include Norman Lear, Barbara Streisand, and Senator Charles Schumer - learn more by clicking here. 

JCWK Dance Lab is taking this time in #NovemberRe(new)al to root down and grow up from the work of #SelfCareSeptember and #OctoberObjectives. In addition to the performance, we are expanding our outreach workshops for seniors, folks with movement challenges, and Pre-K-12. Click here to learn more about those! 

I'm excited! 

Thursday, October 19, 2023


I'm honored and thrilled to be able to share the Pennsylvania Dance Education Organization on October's episode of The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange on

Dr. Miriam Giguere and Rosemary Battista joined me and JCWK Dance Lab artist Arielle Ridley to talk about PADEO and opportunities for dancers and dance educators in PA! 

The GRADE (Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange) is an outreach initiative by JCWK Dance Lab designed to bring awareness to dance opportunities for adults in Reading, PA and the surrounding communities. It embodies JCWK Dance Lab's "Connection" cornerstone. 

Check out the episode here: 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Did you ever have a moment when you felt like you were just out of steam? 

You're frustrated. You're anxious. You need to move forward but you feel stuck? The world is spinning faster and you're just trying to hold on?

That was the end of August for me. 

And then September came. 

I designated September #SelfCareSeptember because I was stuck. 

Enter the grant report that demanded I document everything I had done in the past year. As frustrating as it can be, looking back offered me a moment of perspective to not only use #SelfCareSeptember as a necessary pause in a hurricane of movement, but also to halt the feeling/ desire/ need to constantly fight for forward motion.

#SelfCareSeptember was necessary because I as me, as JCWK Dance Lab, and as Artist in Residence at Alvernia University had done a lot in the past year. (I think I documented some of it here on Fieldnotes. Feel free to explore the past with me.)

I'm grateful to all of my dancers (those I've known and those I've met) for trusting me on this journey from September 2022 to August 2023. We've created so much. We've proved that we can #nevernotdanceagain. 

I led JCWK Dance Lab on a September of focusing on somatic training, alignment, strength and flexibility. We shared our different backgrounds and asked hard questions of each other. We individually and collectively unpacked the ways we experience (or don't) physical and mental Wellness. This work is/was necessary so that we can dance longer, dance stronger, and dance with a deeper awareness of our physical/ emotional/ psychological/ social bodies. 

How do you make self care happen? 

Here are some of our reflections, in short video form: 



Monday, August 28, 2023

Dancing for Wellness with Penn State Health

Shout out to our friends at Penn State Health for hosting Rec Fest!

Rec Fest is a day that brings together organizations that provide adaptative movement equipment and opportunities with folks who might need them. 

JCWK Dance Lab shared Dance for Wellness and Dance for Parkinson's Disease demos. 

What Joy! We had so much fun Connecting with new friends through dance and Wellness!

Learn more about Rec Fest: 

Friday, August 4, 2023


 "When was the last time you did something for the first time?" ~John C. Maxwell

Hi, Friend!

Happy August! Summer is coming to a close, but #AugustAdventure is just starting!

To kick off our '23-'24 season, JCWK Dance Lab decided to create a monthly focus which we share on the socials with a hashtag. This is also a way to keep us anchored in our mission of Creating Joy, Connection, and Wellness through Kinesthetic stories. July was #JulyJoy. August is #AugustAdventure. Do you have ideas for other months? Let me know!

Tomorrow (Sunday, August 6), we're embodying the Connection and Kinesthetic stories cornerstones by adventuring to Philadelphia. JCWK Dance Lab is on tour and is co-presenting "Flowing Forms." I'm looking forward to connecting with old friends, meeting new acquaintances, and sharing our latest research. For our next projects, JCWK Dance Lab is investing the science of soil regeneration, biodiversity, and the interconnection between humans and nature. Pictured above is a performance of "Inter/Twined" in Reading Public Museum's Arboretum as part of the Reading Theater Project's In Nature's Studio 2023. 

The Broad Street Review previewed "Flowing Forms." Click here to read about the performance. 

Click here for more information and tickets. 

We have more adventures on the horizon this month, including the finale of our pilot modern dance class series, The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange on, and regional wellness festivals. 


What was #JulyJoy? 

Click here for a short video about the start of our hashtag challenge. 

July 23, I co-directed RTP's In Nature's Studio. JCWK Dance Lab partnered to present this special event. It was a great Joy to Connect with local actors, musicians, painters, and dancers through this platform. Click here to watch a short behind the scenes video. 

Barrio Alegria invited JCWK Dance Lab to participate in their annual Storytelling through Dance performance. Pictured is JCWK Dance Lab artist Cady Monasmith. The performance was on the steps of the Reading Public Library. Reading more about it here. 

I piloted a 5-week Modern Dance class series in partnership with Alvernia University to measure interest for ongoing classes. The outpouring of interest has been a huge part of my personal #JulyJoy. All of the classes have been full and other folks have written that the timing didn't work out, but are interested in future classes. Read more here. 

Dance artists Sarena Gable and Arielle Ridley joined me in leading Dance for Parkinson's classes around Berks County. Click here to watch a short video about Dance for Wellness. 

Long-time Philly artist, Charles Tyson and I re-Connected for's Dance Talk Radio. Listen to the podcast here. 

When you catch us at a Wellness Festival, we'll ask you to add to our "Joy Board". Watch this video to see how folks at the Encompass Summer Resource Fair Connect with Joy. 

Friday, July 21, 2023

Art in Nature


JCWK Dance Lab and Reading Theater Project are partnering AGAIN with the Reading Public Museum for "In Nature's Studio" on Sunday, July 23 at 4pm. 

The event is free and open to the public. You're welcome to wander through the RPM's Arboretum or sign up for a guided tour. 

Click here for more information. It's gonna be a great day!

Monday, July 17, 2023

Modern Dance for Adults - FAQ's


Modern Dance: A Summer Class Series for Adults has begun! We had an awesome first class last week and I met so many new dancers (some dancers who were new to me, and some folks who were new to dance)! 

I received some questions about the class, so here are some more details. 

Q. What exactly is Modern Dance? 
A. Modern Dance is an umbrella term for a style of dance characterized by artistic and individual expression. It, like other dance genres, has a web of influencers, a specific movement language, and a general class flow. My personal style is informed by finding efficient movement pathways to reflect an idea or image. For example, I LOVE talking about the ebb and flow of the ocean as a metaphor for the way I want my dancers to move across the space. Other genres might focus more on the rhythm of movement or creating a specific shape. There's volumes more - you'll have to come to find out!

Q. What should I wear?
A. Please wear clothes in which you feel comfortable moving. "Workout" clothes or "Yoga" clothes are most appropriate. For your safety, leave the big jewelry and personal adornments at home. Please take off your shoes when you come in the studio. You might want to take off your socks, depending on your personal preference and/or the texture of the floor. I suggest layers so you can shed clothes as you get warm or put clothes on (like long pants or a long-sleeved shirt) when we do floor work. 

Q. Floor Work? 
A. Yep. In finding efficiently of movement, we'll explore anatomical planes of the body and different ways our bodies respond to gravity. We'll explore movement standing, traveling across the floor, and with a majority of our body on the floor. 

Q. Is that safe?
A. Yes. If you're uncomfortable with anything, I will provide accommodations. For example, if you have cranky knees we have tools to help you achieve the idea of the movement that works best for you and the specific exercise. 

Q. Is this a fitness class?
A. Not really. Modern Dance is more focused on artistry. That being said, you will get your heart rate up, sweat, build core, upper and lower strength, increase flexibility and multidimensional movement patterns, laugh, and work!

Q. I've never danced before. Can I still attend?
A. Absolutely! Thank you for taking the risk and for being interested. We're all here to learn together and we'll all learn something new, together!

Q. Do I have to come to every class?
A. Nope. This is a trial series to see if and who might be interested in learning (more) about Modern Dance (and dance in general). Come when you can! Please register so I can plan appropriately for each class. Register by following this link. 

Q. I'm interested, but I can't make those times. 
A. Great! Thank you! Please let me know! After this series, I'll be analyzing the data I receive through the class itself, registration, and folks who are interested to see how we move forward. Please email me at or

Q. Where's the studio? 
A. It's on Alvernia University's Main Campus in the Campus Commons Building. The Commons has a Fitness Center on the first floor. Enter the Fitness Center and go up the stairs. 

Q. Is there parking?
A. Yes, Alvernia has visitors parking available. 

Q. Where's Alvernia?

Q. The cost for class is $10-15 sliding scale. What does that mean?
A. I don't believe that financial constraints should be a barrier to artistic experiences. That being said, art making and doing has value and incurs costs. Please pay what you wish or what you can within that range. (Or more if you feel so compelled). PayPal - jcwkdancelab  Venmo - JCWarchal-King

Q. I don't have PayPal or Venmo. Can I pay in cash?
A. Sure! If you want to pay by check, please make that out to JCWK Dance Lab. 

Q. I still have questions. 
A. Great! I'm into life-long learning. Please email me at or

I can't wait to dance with you! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

#JulyJoy is creating new Connections through Wellness

JCWK Dance Lab has been sharing Dance for Wellness in a pilot class at Encompass Rehab Hospital. We've had so much fun getting to know some of the residents at the Rehab Hospital and those who come to visit the Hospital, just to dance with us. 

Encompass hosted a Wellness Fair and I met so many other professionals who were dedicated to serving the aging and senior populations (and other adults and people, too). 

I asked folks to share their Joy, and together we created a Joy Board of the day. This is a practice in which JCWK Dance Lab engages regularly. Check it out: 

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Modern Dance Summer Series for Adults


What is Modern Dance? 

Does and can Modern Dance exist in Reading, PA?

Is anyone actually interested? 

I'm going to find out! 

Alvernia University and JCWK Dance Lab are partnering to present Modern Dance: A Summer Class Series for Adults. 

When: 5 Tuesdays in July and August (7/11- 8/8) from 6:30-8pm

Where: Alvernia University's Dance Studio (Second Floor of the Campus Commons Building)

What does a class look like?: The class will introduce and reinforce modern dance vocabulary and concepts. The class begins with a warm up, will move on and across the floor, and end in a full body combination. JCWK Dance Lab's teaching philosophy develops wellness of the whole dancer through connecting the imagination with the physical body to find joy. 

Cost: Sliding scale $10-$15

Interested? Register here! 

Thursday, July 6, 2023

#JulyJoy Challenge

Throughout the month of Joy, JCWK Dance Lab is taking time to reflect and share on the things that bring us joy. 

Here are some moments from our Cultural Exchange with the Heritage of Green Hills. (What's a Cultural Exchange? Read more about it here.)


What brings you Joy? How do you create Joy?

Friday, June 9, 2023

Jumping through June


Dear Friend, 

What has you jumping for Joy this June? What are you creating? 

The above image is from JCWK Dance Lab's Dark Adaptation in April. (Photo by Thomas Kay Photography). In the final section of the show, Cady jumped backward into Arielle. Arielle caught her, held her, and spun her into a new direction. The risk-taking, trust, confidence and collaboration between these artists is a physical manifestation of what is bringing me Joy this June. Would you join me? 

JCWK Dance Lab is offering a free series of Dance for Wellness classes at Encompass Health this summer. Our June classes are Sunday, June 11 at 3pm and Thursday, June 16 at 6pm. Click here to see a short video of our first series and to learn more about Dance for Wellness. 

This month on the Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange, I'm interviewing Que Rico Latin Dance Company's director, Cristina Osorio. The show airs live on BCTV on Tuesday, June 20th at 6:30pm. Click here to watch the broadcast or check it out on your own time on the G.R.A.D.E. playlist. Here's the link for that. 

Call for artists! JCWK Dance Lab is co-producing In Nature's Studio again this summer in partnership with Reading Theater Project and the Reading Public Museum. We're looking for dancers, actors, and playwrights. Click here to learn about the performance and join us! Submission deadline is June 21. 

Be Curious, Wonderland Adventures is an immersive, site-specific arts experience at the Berks Heritage Center, produced by Yocum Institute for Art Education. The experience happens on Saturday, June 24. Click here for more information. 

And - check out all of our excitement by bookmarking this blog or JCWK Dance Lab's upcoming events page by clicking here. 


June Joy is connecting with our communities and sharing dance in so many different ways. How can we connect with you? Would you connect with us? 

Some ideas might be:

  • Join us at an event. 
  • Follow or comment on our social media channels. We're on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube
  • Forward this link to a friend who might be interested in JCWK Dance Lab's programming. 
  • Donate your time, talents, or resources. Do you have a special skill you'd like to share? Some extra change you don't need? As the company continues to grow, so does our need for additional support. It takes a village to Create Joy, Connection, and Wellness through Kinesthetic stories! Your help is appreciated. Email me ( if you'd like to chat or collaborate. JCWK Dance Lab is fiscally sponsored by Fractured Atlas which means if you want to make a tax deductive donation, you can do that here. If you're not concerned about taxes, you can donate through PayPal here. Thank you! 
  • Sign up for JCWK Dance Lab's eblast. We send out emails with updates once a month and don't share your information. Click here to connect through email. 
How are you creating Joy in June? 

Monday, June 5, 2023

World Environment Day

It's World Environment Day! 

If you've been following along, you know that so much of my research is inspired by the worlds around us. 

I've been playing with videos to sharing updates about JCWK Dance Lab, because we have such exciting stuff going on! Here's another little clip. If you want to learn more about any of the processes, I've written about them in previous posts. 

How do you Connect with your environments? 

Friday, June 2, 2023

Congrats, Pre-K Constellations

 Flash Back Friday!

Congratulations to these brilliant constellations! 

Thank you for sharing your celestial spirit and time with us! Thank you to the educators who have been your guides in connecting with yourself, your communities, and your environment. You Are StarDust! 

The pics below are from Berks Nature Preschool and Rock Hollow Woods Environmental Learning Center's Pre-K graduation. 

JCWK Dance Lab shared our "We Are StarDust" workshop with these celestial beings earlier this year. 

Monday, May 29, 2023

Memorial Day 2023

 Holding space and acknowledging that there are many ways to memorialize today. 

Thank you to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the pursuit of life, liberty, freedom, and joy. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Weekends of Wellness

 Last weekend, JCWK Dance Lab shared Wellness in a variety of forms. 

We participated in The Heritage of Green Hills Wellness Expo and discovered a new joy in the wings that we've been exploring. 

Watch below: 

On Sunday, we shared Dance for Wellness at Encompass Health. We'll be there a few more times this summer. Here's a bit of the joy: 

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Happy Mother's Day!

Who made you the star that you are? 

We made something for you... and for them!  

Mothering takes on many forms. Thank you to all of the people who are mothers to us! 

Friday, April 28, 2023

Performance as Peacemaking

Neurology and psychology teach us that mirror neurons are receptors in the brain that allow us to experience what we see. For example, if you watch a sad scene in a movie, you might cry because you can relate or understand the plight of the characters. Your mirror neurons are at work to allow you to share in the experience. 

In this way, seeing and participating in life performance allows us to connect with ourselves and our communities in a multidimensional way. Seeing joy creates joy. Kindness breeds kindness. Laughter infuses laughter. 

Joy, laughter, and kindness break down barriers and give our stressed-out systems reprieve. 

I'm grateful to be in a place where I can build bridges to experience joy, connection, and wellness through the arts. Tonight, Alvernia University's Fine and Performing Arts Department is presenting "Performance as Peacemaking." Peacemaking is a value of Alvernia. Collegiality is a value of Alvernia. Performance allows us to create both. 

Alvernia's "Performance as Peacemaking" is participating in the local and national Youth Violence Prevention Week. 

I'm also working with Berks4Peace to share dance as a form of community building, self-awareness and development, and individual empowerment. The weather has changed our plans for the culminating event of the week, but, to quote P!NK, "we're never gonna not dance again." 

More info below: 

Performance as Peacemaking click here. 

For Berks4Peace, click here. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

Cultural Exchange, Individual Impact

Early in 2023, JCWK Dance Lab was invited to participate in a Cultural Exchange with The Heritage of Green Hills. 

The initial details: 

JCWK Dance Lab would have weekly meetings/ open rehearsals/ concert dance things in the exercise/ dance studio of The Heritage. Residents could come into rehearsals and move with the dance artists or participate in any way they wanted. The intended result was to give the residents an opportunity to engage with high-quality, artistic dance practice and to provide JCWK Dance Lab a creative home. 

What actually happened: 

Movement. Conversations. Story sharing. Questions. Memory generation. Laughter. Tears. Exchange of passion. Listening.

Here's an antidote:

The company just had a performance run. The performance experience is another post, but with the mission of JCWK Dance Lab at the forefront, I called our normal weekly rehearsal. Why? Because if I paused it, I would fill the time and space with something else. I wouldn't follow my own lead of taking a day off by having received a day off. I didn't want to give my dancers that option, too. One cornerstone of JCWK is Wellness - mental and physical. So I called rehearsal, but designated it as a day of discussion and restoration. We debriefed. We planned. We were led in a restorative yoga practice. We talked more. 

A group of "regular friends" (residents of The Heritage) joined us around 6:30. I broke the intimate discussion about the performance the company was unpacking and shifted gears to the restorative movement practice. The dance artists laid on the floor. The residents sat in chairs on the perimeter of the room and said "oh, we just like watching," when invited to participate.

Until I rolled exercise balls to them and the instructor moved to them with cues directed at modifying what the company members were doing on the floor. 

Truth - my knees hurt and I needed my own modifications. I took a ball and modified. I loved the opportunity to invite other people to join in movement and take ownership of the ways we/ they can and do move. The instructor began referring to "the dancers on the floor" and "the dancers with the balls" or "the dancers in the chairs" as she was verbally guiding the practice. 

After the hour practice, many of the participants were ready to go to bed, including members of JCWK Dance Lab, but the company still had some work to do. The sleepy residents left and the artists of JCWK Dance Lab engaged in a conversation about next steps. We had been invited to participate in a performance/ conversation about racial social justice. Lots of conversation ensued. One resident remained behind. 

Time passed. Time ended. 

This one, remaining resident has shared their time and talents with the company in the past. I approached them to chat, maybe about business things, maybe about life. Tonight, this resident had tears in their eyes as they shared with me their own experiences with social injustice, revealing a personal story about Holocaust survivors. 

We sat together for a moment. We held the space of grief and hope. They recounted details of their personal story. I was able to witness. I was able to learn. 


And this is the power of the Exchange. Moments of storytelling. Moments of making connections between past and future. Moments of sharing joy and sadness. Moments of acknowledging that being well is being fully present and being human and showing up to all of the layers of what that might mean. Moments have monumental meaning. 

Thank you, Friends. Until next time... 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Orbit emerges on 32323

 "Orbit" is a collaboration that's been planted and growing for over the past decade. Dr. Mara Parker, Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Widener University, hired me in 2012 to teach dance. I fell in love with the mission of the university, the interests of the students, and the grittiness of the environment - including the city of Chester. During my time at Widener, Dr. Parker, the University dancers, and I collaborated on several projects and performances. I deeply respect(ed) Dr. Parker's dedication to her students and to her own artistry. 

Dr. Parker is a cellist - the cello is one of my favorite instruments! 

I needed to leave Widener in 2019, but Dr. Parker and I remained close. From the first moment I met her, I knew she would be a long-time mentor, colleague, and eventually friend. Over the years, we talked about doing a performance together, where she played solo and I danced solo. But, time passed. 

Until this year. In Fall 2022, emerging from of the pandemic, emerging from a lot of personal challenges, emerging from of a lot of time, Dr. Parker approached me with the idea of a combined solo show. Without fully understanding the details, I said, "YES!"

Dear Reader, you know those few people to whom you'll say "yes" to almost anything, no matter what? Dr. Parker is one of those people for me. 

What I didn't realize I was saying "yes" to was an hour-long show. Of just me dancing and just Dr. Parker playing. I didn't realize I was saying "yes" to an incredible gift of time, movement, investment, and love. 

Dr. Parker will be playing four cello pieces, including the entity of Bach's 1st Cello Suite. I'll be dancing to each of them. 

Read more about the performance on the Philadelphia Dance Journal by clicking here. 

For the performance website, click here. 

Thursday, March 16, 2023

The Milestone of Misa Criolla

 Happy 275th Anniversary, City of Reading, PA! 

Many celebrations are happening this week and I was fortunate enough to catch some of the fireworks lighting the mountaintop tonight. 

One significant, maybe serendipitous, event happens this Sunday, March 19th at 7pm at St. Margaret's Roman Catholic Church in Reading. The Reading Choral Society and Alvernia University Chorus are coming together to share Misa Criolla, among other performances. 

This particular event holds a special place in my heart because:

  • Historically (anthropology and story buff here 😁), the Misa Criolla was the first Catholic Mass to be translated from Latin into a vernacular language, less than 100 years ago. It was translated into Spanish and much of the musical score was based on traditional dances. The way I see it, the Church took a huge step to honor the diversity of its congregations and make the religion more accessible (dare I say more inclusive) by translating its texts. And... the Church recognized that dance was integral to the integration of people and spirituality - at least in the relationship to music. Utilizing sounds associated with physical movement, community, and joy were the bridge between a complicated institution and a new connection to a larger group of people. Please, do your own research because I'm just skimming the historical importance of the work.   
  • The Reading/ Berks area has a large Hispanic population. By producing this performance, Alvernia and the Reading Choral Society are acknowledging this. Perhaps, like in times gone by, this performance is an invitation of inclusion and acceptance from large organizations that might seem "off limits" to some folks. Full disclosure, I'm making assumptions from the sidelines here. But, I like to think that we're in a time of community building, joy creation, and positive perspective shifting. These things take time, but without first steps, the journey can't begin. 
  • This is the first collaborative performance between Reading Choral Society and Alvernia University Chorus. Again, yay for creating community through artistic collaboration! 
  • I was brought into explore how dance could be incorporated as a visual element to compliment the singing and honor the tradition of folk dances on which the music is based. Time and space didn't allow for a choreographic translation of the mass, but I was invited and encouraged to bring dance into the entity of the event. Thank you! 
I'm in the unique position to be directing an ensemble of adult dance artists working at a professional level (JCWK Dance Lab). I'm also leading a group of younger artists who are craving dance education through experiential learning (Alvernia University Dance Company). To honor the Misa Criolla and the groundwork laid by Reading Choral Society and Alvernia University Chorus, I'm bringing these groups together to share dance as part of the celebration of community building and joy creation through artistic/ embodied experience. 
  • The music choice is specific to the above intentions and to acknowledging our contemporary climate. We're dancing to a familiar tune from a recent, popular movie to acknowledge the Misa Criolla's Latin American heritage and in recognition of the moment this event is occurring. (I checked and we're covered by licensing). And, yes, I fully expect that folks in the audience will sing along. Welcome! Singing is a form of embodied expression - the vocal chords are dancing! 
  • The dancers will be wearing white. This is to acknowledge the pure intention of the collaborations. And, white light reflects all colors. 
  • We've been experimenting with wings. We (the dancers, the singers, the community leaders as I witness them) are literally and metaphorically expanding our wings to try new things. We're going to get tangled up as we practice, learn, perform, and try again. But, we can only learn by doing, by making the mistakes, and making the choices to keep going. In dance, as in life, the show must go on. 
  • Both JCWK Dance Lab and Alvernia Dance Company have a diverse group of dancers. By "diverse," I mean different in age, dance experiences, body type, ethic backgrounds, and personal narratives. In bringing them together, I hope to replicate the model I see from RCS and AUC in invitation and inclusion. I deeply believe this is possible through thoughtful mentorship, leadership, and love. 
There's more, I'm sure. 

These are a few of the elements I've been witness to and hold dear. 

Would you join us? 

For tickets and more information, click here

I'm including some rehearsal shots below. 

Members of Alvernia University Dance Company in rehearsal. 

JCWK Dance Lab artists in rehearsal as part of our
Cultural Exchange with The Heritage of Green Hills.
Photo by Paul Laincz

Monday, February 13, 2023

First Performance of 2023

 This week JCWK Dance Lab has our first performance of 2023. 

Wow...! Yay!

The company has been through a lot of growth in January, but we'll talk about that in another post. 

We're being presented as part of Reading Theater Project (RTP)'s 5 Minute Fringe this weekend. We're sharing a new work, "Seeking," which is an excerpt of the April 23rd performance of Dark Adaptation (more on that later, too, but click here for a bit of information, now). During RTP's Creative Labs, a process in which the presented artists come together several times before the show to share and get feedback, we joined two other performances.

So, we're actually sharing THREE new works this weekend!

Click here for the link for tickets and more information regarding Fringe.

Here's a moment from our sharing of "Seeking" during RTP's Creative Labs. The Labs were held in a church. I'm in the foreground, Richie Maldonado, Jr. is behind me. Richie joined JCWK Dance Lab in December 2022 and you might remember him from our chat on The Greater Reading Area Dance Exchange.                                                                

Here's a picture of our Cultural Exchange with The Heritage of Green Hills. We're sharing time, space, and experience with the residents of the senior living facility and the process has been so enriching! Arielle Ridley is in the foreground, I'm leaning on Richie's shoulders, and Cady Monasmith is in the blue pants diagonal from us.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Creative Team, Creative Dream!

 These incredible artists have been joining me on this journey of Dark Adaptation. Next month, we're sharing Seeking, one of the pieces from the entire performance, at the Reading Theater Project's 5-Minute Fringe Festival: Shadows. 

Arielle Ridley found her passion for dance at the age of thirteen in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. She joined her local dance studio and was featured in shows such as Jasmine and the Lamp and Alice in Wonderland. At the age of seventeen, Arielle began exploring her own choreographic skills and found a passion for teaching and performing. She earned her BFA in Dance Theatre with honors from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she attended both the NY and LA campuses. She has trained under choreographers and instructors such as Genevieve Carson, Laura Berg, and Tracie Steinfield. She currently resides and works in the Philadelphia area, performing as a company artist with Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Dancers Company and JCWK Dance Lab. In addition to company work, Arielle has also performed works with choreographers such as Grant Jacoby, Michael Kerr, and Stephanie Tolbert-King. She currently teaches contemporary, jazz, ballet, and more at Synergy Dance Center and the Ballet Guild of Lehigh Valley. When she's not dancing, she loves spending time with her big family and giving herself and her friends manicures! 

Cady Monasmith feels that movement is a powerful way of speaking through our bodies. Cady emphasizes change and choice through movement, awakening the conscious by letting the spirit dance in the flesh. Her use of interpretative movement helps individuals reflect their story of emotional pain, explore the past and bridge their experiences to their present self. Cady has helped her clients reconnect to their bodies by finding compassion, self-acceptance, and a sense of freedom and inner strength. This connection reintegrates the physical, emotional, cognitive and spiritual aspects into the client's past experience with present meaning. Cady was given artistic guidance from Philadelphia artists, including Kun-Yang Lin, Jillian Harris, Ellie Goudie-Averill, Elizabeth Reynolds, Janet Pilla and Laura Katz-Rizzo. She is elated to join JCWK Dance Lab.

Richard Maldonado, Jr is an All Styles Hip Hop dancer. Richie started dancing around the age of 7, learning break dance foundations. By the age of 13, he continued to train wherever he could outside on the concrete, at family gatherings and at his local church in his hometown Bridgeport, Connecticut. By the age of 14, the Maldonado family relocated to Reading, PA where he continued to dance and joined a street dance crew called The Boogie Monsters, an all breaking and pop group. By the time Richie was a junior at Reading High School he took a leap of faith and auditioned for The Red Knights Dance Team and danced with them until he transferred to I-Lead Charter School. He graduated from I-Lead Charter School and became the choreographer for their dance team. During this period, Richie joined another street dance crew called Dramatic Influence where he began to have more performances and intensive choreography training. He taught at Wandra Holdren's Dance Academy. Richie continued his education at Reading Area Community College and choreographed for the RACC Dance Team. Richie continues to dance for non-profit community organizations such as The Rize Program and Barrio Alegria and teach. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Getting Muddy with Play

 This is often how I know my child has had a good day: 

Please notice the mud all over any surface that wasn't covered with an additional layer (not pictured). The hair matted from sweat. The face reddened from intense physical exertion (tactile learning). The readiness to shed one layer in order to fully jump into the next adventure. 

This is a GOOD DAY. 

JCWK Dance Lab is continuing the process of creating choreography/ dance performance to Stephen Grieco's Dark Adaptation. Please click here to learn more about Steven's process and experience for yourself. 

We're also preparing to share one of these pieces at the Reading Theater Project's 5-Minute Fringe Festival in February. Click here for more details of that performance. 

And, friend, we're covered in mud and matted in sweat! As director, I'm so frustrated, unclear, confused, covered in an uncomfortable layer of soot. I want to keep my people safe (which I can still do, even if we're trenched in the dirt. I recognize that safety isn't the same as comfort and comfort has many layers based on individual experience. I'm grateful that my dancers recognize that too). 

We're in that metaphorical/ real place where, after you've seen the river and are ready to cross it, after you visualize or see what might be on the other side, you have to take the first step into the undisturbed, clear, water to begin the crossing journey. 

Maybe not with the first or second step, but somewhere along the way across, you look down to see a bubbling of murky water around your feet. The path forward is no longer clear and you recognize that not only your feet are cold and wet but water has also slowly infiltrated your clothes. The skin of your legs is clammy and a cold dampness seeps through your skin. 

Wow! This moment is uncomfortable! 

Do you go back to the known and stop the journey or do you continue trusting what you saw and what you think could be? Do you keep mucking through the immediate moment, not quite being able to see or feel the next step? 

Your breath quickens. You start to sweat even though you're freezing. 

But! This is also the moment of PLAY. (Especially if you're in the metaphorical river and not a real one).

This is the moment of LEARNING. 

This is the moment that needs to happen before the next and the next and the next. 

Below is a fuzzy image of yesterday's rehearsal: 

We were in a new space. We're still relatively new to each other. We're developing a dance based on trust that our feet will find grounding even though we can't see through the mud right now. The mud is present because we've been together for a few rehearsals that were beautiful gems/ clear water. The mud is present because we've passed the point of knowing and are moving into the unknown.

We're literally getting sweat soaked, tripping, forgetting, trying again, falling, and getting more dirty.     

And, yet, we're able to continue. 

We're able to laugh through the uncomfortable moments and acknowledge them as such. We can say with our voices and our bodies "This moment is MUDDY!" (Other words might have been used in real time and real life....)

The process of play - of learning and growing and developing and creating - is covered in dirt and sweat soaked. 

Play is work. They're both 4-letter words. Work can be play. 

The above image is fuzzy, but there's movement. There's incredible trust. There's security and alignment. There's safety in venturing into the unknown. 

In a few weeks, will you, as an audience member, get to see this moment onstage? Honestly, I don't know. I don't know where this journey is going to take us. You might see this or you might see something that became because of this. 

We've taken more than the first few steps and the next few have been murkier and muddied by our ambition. 

How exciting! 

Human-development experts write that a child's work is play. They learn and grow and develop through play. In the class I teach about Creativity, the students reflect that my encouragement for them to play is "like when I was a kid" 

"I felt free"

"I could let go of my stress"

"I didn't feel judged" 

"For a moment, I could do anything!"

When do we lose that? Why do we lose that? 

What is possible if we allow ourselves to be emersed in the muddiness? In the play? 

Friend, I hope you find a time and space to play. What might that look like for you?