Category Archives: the dance

dearly beloved


I am on Martha’s Vineyard working and playing with my autistic godson Jacob, who will celebrate his sixteenth birthday this month.  I have known Jacob all of his life.  In the first year of that life, when he was not crawling, I had the profound gift of working with Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen, who taught us ways of encouraging developmental patterns that were absent or fragmentary.  And so began a journey of learning and transformation for all of us who love Jacob.

I have not seen him since last September.  Jacob is non-verbal, and I felt (finally) that efforting for language was exactly wrong, and the I needed to go where he is, by communicating with him telepathically.  Dropping into that consciousness, it was as if a flower that had been tightly budded opened fully and there he was! When I asked him what he needed, it was for us to listen carefully, to ask with our hearts and minds, and to let go of needing the words.  Some of this was in images, some in short, clear phrases.

On the morning of the first day there was a lot of grabbing and pulling. I asked him to “use his mind” to tell me what he wanted. Over the next couple hours, things began shifting. It is clear that the habitual physical patterns – the muscle memory – are very deeply set – they anchor him in a way, and obstruct accessing new information or ways of being. It’s almost like when I first come out he is frantic to get whatever it is that he feels he needs. Or lay down the behavioral patterning like a grid for our interaction.

In the afternoon of this same day, there was a profound shift – lovely alternations of separation and connection. Dancing – literally – with balances, turns, shifts of direction, coming together, going apart. It is as if we sent in a psychic order and Jacob delivered! As we danced in the afternoon, his gaze shifted from being downwardly focused  to opening out and coming to rest at eye level. A clear shift in awareness and presence. Full palm contact holding hands – a first. At one point when I was tying his shoe, he did this series of pats with his open hand – very gentle – all the way down my spine from upper back to hips!

As the week has gone on, our play has expanded, his tolerance has increased, as his patience, gentleness and understanding.  I am using words, but I am also checking in with him non-verbally, letting him show me what might be next.

It is the first time n my long experience of him that Jacob has fully allowed touch. The absence of touch, his reactivity to being touched has been the most painful and frightening part of our relationship.  So this is like sixteen years of Christmases and birthdays.  Sharing contact with him, giving weight, taking his weight, holding hands, cradling arms, stroking his back – all held within the rhythms of walking together fills me with overwhelming appreciation.

Thank you thank you thank you.




the river, the body


We ARE water beings living on a water planet: 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water; 60% of the adult human body is water, carried by blood, lymph, and the water within each cell. We cannot survive without fresh water. In 2016 the Housatonic region saw the worst drought in recorded history. Our once casual relationship to water, and our often-unconscious relationship to our own bodies are comingled in the growing climate crisis.

RIVER/BODY is a site-specific, multidisciplinary, community-engaging dance performance project inspired by the Housatonic River. Working with professional and local student performers, RIVER/BODY uses movement and dance to reflect the ways that our experience of environment is in fact a living process supported by bodily sensations, movements, perceptions, emotions and thoughts. My intention with RIVER/BODY is to vividly express our wild, fluid bodies and their consanguinity with the wildness that surrounds us.

RIVER/BODY will take place in August 2017 in Northwest Connecticut and Massachusetts at several sites along the Housatonic River.

This is an open call to  dancers, artists, river enthusiasts in the Northwest Connecticut and Tri-State region to contact me about how you can become involved in the creation and performance of RIVER/BODY.  I welcome your ideas, your passion your bodies!  Please email me at




dance, body

DSC00667_2Photo:  Pam White; Paula Josa-Jones in “Auf Dein Eigenes Wohl”


How do you think of dance?

Is it shapes?

Steps moving across a stage?

Or is it the body

steeped in its years

on earth?

Is it the body inseparable

from everything?

Are you dancing now?

If you are breathing,

that is a start.

Are you listening,

to the sound of that breath?

Better still.

outside the box

DSC03763Photo:  Pam White

Spent the afternoon in Boston yesterday, performing at the Outside the Box Festival. It was very, very hot – 95 degrees.  However, I was a “roving” performer, so I could choose my moments, choose my time and place.  There was something wonderful and rigorous about being a part of this flow of people, discovering more about relationship, audience and the ephemeral, fleeting performative moment.

I found myself bowing, often to young black men and women. I have felt devastated by the happenings in Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Dallas, and the long list of other beings and cities. I feel helpless, disconnected, even though my son in law is black and my granddaughter a beautiful blend of Nepali and African American.  Perhaps the anonymous, concealed envelope of The Traveler allowed me to cross a bridge, even momentarily.

I want to connect, communicate. I want to say that your lives matter to me in a very personal and immediate way.  It is not abstract.  I want each and every one of us to have limitless opportunity, a deep sense of safety and nurturance, and the boundless ability to pursue happiness.

Bowing was a way of saying “Hello. I see you.”  It is not enough, but it is a beginning.