Category Archives: the dance

the poem, the dance

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This is how I want to make dances.  This is how I want to teach.  This is how I want to be.

Thank you Mary Oliver!

 

 

Everything

I want to make poems that say right out, plainly,
what I mean, that don’t go looking for the
laces of elaboration, puffed sleeves.  I want to
keep close and use often words like
heavy, heart, joy, soon, and to cherish
the question mark and her bold sister

the dash.  I want to write with quiet hands.  I
want to write while crossing the fields that are
fresh with daises and everlasting and the
ordinary grass.  I want to make poems while thinking of
the bread of heaven and the
cup of astonishment; let them be

songs in which nothing is neglected,
not a hope, not a promise.  I want to make poems
that look into the earth and the heavens
and see the unseeable.  I want them to honor
both the heart of faith, and the light of the world;
the gladness that says, without any words, everything.

~ Mary Oliver ~

 

 

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sublime

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I have just finished making Rabbit Hole,  a new solo for the exquisite Lorraine Chapman. She will perform it later this month at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire.

Lorraine is a master performer with an impressive resume and some serious ballet chops. She told me that she has wanted to work with me for twenty years.  I am deeply honored.

Making this dance was not easy. I ask that dancers leap into the turbulent, wild waters of the unknown, the mythic, the mystical.  That they give themselves over to the moment.  That they let go of what they know and step into the dark.

Lorraine was up for that challenge and what she has done with this work is dazzling. Watch for it!!!

 

 

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dearly beloved

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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

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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 pjj@paulajosajones.org.

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