Category Archives: the dance

the dance, again

8b7dc933ef10c640900367f0b3485a87Umut Kebabci

Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?

by Mary Oliver

Don’t call this world adorable, or useful, that’s not it.
It’s frisky, and a theater for more than fair winds.
The eyelash of lightning is neither good nor evil.
The struck tree burns like a pillar of gold.

But the blue rain sinks, straight to the white
feet of the trees
whose mouths open.
Doesn’t the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?
Haven’t the flowers moved, slowly, across Asia, then Europe,
until at last, now, they shine
in your own yard?

Don’t call this world an explanation, or even an education.

When the Sufi poet whirled, was he looking
outward, to the mountains so solidly there
in a white-capped ring, or was he looking

to the center of everything: the seed, the egg, the idea
that was also there,
beautiful as a thumb
curved and touching the finger, tenderly,
little love-ring,

as he whirled,
oh jug of breath,
in the garden of dust?

Copyright ©:  Mary Oliver

raving in wind

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In the late nineties, Pam and I went to the Galapagos.  It was another one of my obsessions, like the horses, like adoption, like every dance I have ever made.  I read everything about the islands, and became obsessed with the albatross.  To me, it was – and is – a mythic bird, a creature with the largest wingspan of any bird – up to 12 feet.   Their flight is  soaring, and they are known to cover up to 1000 km per day and may stay out at sea for up to seven months before returning to their natal breeding grounds.  They breed for life and the pairs have complex, beautiful dances unique to each pair, developed over years of dancing together.  I needed to see them, feel them.


When we arrived at Espanola Island, we saw our first albatrosses.  The first bird was so close that I could see every detail of its great soft eye.  There is something so deep, old and wise in that eye.  I stood and watched them dance, soar, nest  – tears running down my cheeks.  When we got back home, I began to make a dance inspired in part by the albatross – my bodily impressions of them, – and in part by the wild drawings of raptors and crows by Leonard Baskin.

I called the dance Raving in Wind, a line from the poem Rancor of the Empirical by Ann Lauterbach in And, for Example

Now comes the hard, hopeful part.  On Facebook, I found this link. Watch this, feel this, care about this enough to do something.  Why hopeful, you ask.  Because this is an opportunity to open, to love, to act.

For more information, watch Chris Jordan talk about his experience and his project.

asking for help (isn’t easy)

DSC00618Photo:  Lois Greenfield  of Masque
This year marks thirty years since I began Paula Josa-Jones/Performance Works.  I am as excited today to make new work and share it with you as I was thirty years ago.  More excited, in fact. This year I am finding new ways to collaborate with local artists and arts organizations.  I like feeling more woven into my regional web, interactively connected in more ways.What I say on the landing page of the website is:  “At the core of my work is a passion for movement that springs from an unpredictable, limitless aliveness in the body. Being in the body means experiencing it in a bloodful, breathing way that is transformative and improvisational – diving into the deep waters of the body and all its wild possibility.”

I have several projects on front burners.  One of these is completing Little Fictions & Ragged Memoirs, a solo program – the first in my career.  The newest solo – The Traveler – opens with a film, which will require some fierce shooting and editing by several collaborators.  A third solo is a juicy collaboration with costume designer Christine Joly de Lotbinniere.  Another project is an improvisational collaboration with local musicians John Marshall and David Darling.  A third is a new duet for my longtime dancer collaborators DeAnna Pellecchia and Ingrid Schatz.  That duet cross-pollinates The Maids by Genet with images and movement of animals.

All of this takes time, energy and money.  I don’t often ask.  If you can help, please do.  This isn’t a Kickstarter campaign with prizes, but you will have opportunities to see some beautiful work bloom.  In a theater or an arena near you.  Thank you.All of this takes time, energy and money.  I don’t often ask.  If you can help, please do.  This isn’t a Kickstarter campaign with prizes, but you will have opportunities to see some beautiful work bloom in a theater or an arena near you.  Thank you!

get lost

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I read this story in the New Yorker about the street dancer Storyboard P with interest.  The same week, I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and was drawn to this ancient dancer.  A week later, I performed my new solo – The Traveler (Moth to the flame) – at the APAP Booking Dance showcase at Jazz at Lincoln Center.

All of this has me thinking about why I/we dance, and where these dances come from. About intention, inspiration, improvisation as a political act, and improvisation as passionate gesture.  About the body and what it desires, what it demands, where it takes us and how often we do not go along for the ride.  About rhythm, stillness and listening. About finding and losing oneself in the movement and the moment.

There was one moment in my performance where I forgot where I was going.  It was an interesting, rich moment – a kind of time-space hiatus.  I wasn’t worried, more curious and astonished by both the emptiness and the possibilities.  Then the movement I had rehearsed pushed through, but it was somehow different, re-infused and invigorated by that momentary hush.  I am building work differently now – more intuitively and at the same time the process feels canny, knowing.  Throughout, I focus on getting lost to find it.

At APAP I shared a dressing room with the brilliant Claire Porter, and two beautiful French men – Manuel Vignoulle and Isaies Santamaria Perez.  At one point Isaies said, “I only want to dance.”  Me too.  Well, I also want to write and ride, but the dancing is first.  It is the hardest, wildest place.  It is where I can get lost and found, over and over again.

Here is another seeker.