La MaMa

Paula Josa-Jones 2 HR 4 1786 - Version 2Photo:  Darial Sneed

I had the great privilege of performing the premiere of MAMMAL last weekend at the venerable La MaMa Theater in New York.

I first went to La MaMa around 1981 to see the brilliant Kazuo Ohno perform.  Watching him slowly raise a single chrysanthemum into the air, his whole body a trembling stem is an indelible kinetic memory.  It is also where I first met Eiko and Koma, who later, during a Delicious Moving workshop in the Catskills, dismantled and then re-calibrated everything that I had previously understood about all things performative.  I had just finished the Laban program, and my body was full of spirals and space.  I will never forget Koma saying tersely to me, “Just go down.”

Eiko came to my performance.  It may be the first time that she has seen me perform.  I was deeply honored by her presence, and by the opportunity to be dancing in this iconic space.

On the second day of the performance, while warming up, I suddenly felt the unmistakable presence of my old, wise stallion, Capprichio – in me, in the space.  I felt his head, the weight of those bones, the mass of him.  I remember thinking, “You can’t move like this.”  And he showed me the quiver of himself, the wildness and the unpredictability.

I am reading Kent de Spain’s wonderful book, The Landscape of the Now.  It is a breathtaking compendium of improvisational practices and reflections by the Big Ones:  Steve Paxton, Lisa Nelson, Nancy Stark Smith, Ruth Zaporah, Simone Forti, Deborah Hay.

MAMMAL is a choreography, but it is also an improvisation, and much shaped by what shows up in the room with an audience and how deep I can drop into that well as I set foot on stage.  It is about gaze and stillness and impulse.  Connection and curiously, faith – that the dance is there, and that I can let it come to me as I also plunge into it.

MAMMAL and the other two dances from OF THIS BODY, THE TRAVELER and SPEAK are coming soon to The Dance Complex in Cambridge, MA.  It is the world premiere of THE TRAVELER, a piece that has been more than two years in the making.  You can buy tickets here:  Of This Body

Come and see!


Monday fun

IMG_9203Photo:  Pam White from All the Pretty Horses by Paula Josa-Jones

My friend Derrill (father of my godson Jacob) and I had some fun looking at the Tiny Desk Concerts during my last visit. I can’t remember which one of us found Mucca Pazza.

For those of you who have not discovered them, here is your Monday fun fix. Enjoy!

of these bodies

Dive_BlackWomanInTreePaula Josa-Jones in Dive.

I watched the video of Gaelynn Lea, winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert competition last night.  I am not the same today.  I am changed.  By the end of her 22 minute set on the program, I was in tears.  Gaelynn suffers from Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.  She is, nonetheless, all fire, sweetness and beauty in a completely unexpected body.  As I watched, as I let her music move through me, move me, I felt like I was seeing something that is ineffable, impossible to tether to any one description.  By the end, I felt that she had schooled me.  That art and love are all.  That taking what we are given and rendering it to whatever perfection and devotion that we can is everything.

She reminds me of why I do not want to speak ill of any presidential candidate, as much as I am wounded by what they say.  I don’t want to go there.  I want to anchor myself in the place of passion, of desire for what is, in the language of the Buddha, right action, right speech.  In focusing on what I want, not what I fear and loathe. Gaelynn and her music remind me not to waste a moment in hate.  See it, transform it, one note, one gesture at a time.

I chose this photograph because of the branches and my body in them.  The anatomy of the tree.  The difficult anatomy of this musician I so admire and yes, love.  My own body – so willing, so fierce, so lovely.  Each of us rendering art “of these bodies” – of flesh, earth and spirit.