I began 2020 teaching Reformer classes and seeing clients at Center Strength studio in Berkeley, and seeing clients at my DBP studio in Oakland. I was coming off a busy creative year in 2019 with the showing of my Reconstructions Performance Ritual and having my Cipher Study #1 installation/performance piece in Rhiannon Evans MacFayden’s Bodies on the Line exhibit at the Berkeley Art Center. I was completing my training on the Core Align Pilates equipment and continuing weekly participation in Pilates for Rehabilitation course. I was gearing up to serve on the Berkeley Civic Arts grant panel for the third year. I was busy and completely unprepared for what the rest of 2020 had in store for us.
The shelter in place order began on my husband’s birthday. I did my best to make a nice birthday dinner, but we were in shock and afraid and anxious. I was initially consumed with reviewing grant applications, standing in long lines at the grocery store, home schooling, and trying to figure out how to pivot to an online practice. For those of you who know me and have worked with me, you know I rely on my hands for sensing what’s happening in the body and physical cueing. Teaching online was like having my hands cut off. Gradually projects wrapped up and things slowed down.
I found myself watching the faultlines of our system – social, economic, health, political – all coming apart. My creative practice became writing daily prayers. I read, reflected, listened, stared out the window, immersed myself in trainings that centered cycles of nature, the breath, and Africanist movement, aesthetics and cosmologies. As the faultlines in my own assumptions began to fragment, I realized that our future depends on letting go of the American story, and opening the way for different ways of knowing and being. At House/Full’s vaudeville ritual performance in August of last year, Ohlone activist Corinna Gould offered a prayer that reminded us that we human beings are the impatient little brothers and sisters of the plants and animals. What if we truly and deeply believed that? What if we greeted the Magnolia tree or the Crow as a respected elder? What if our equity work was about protecting Black Joy?
I am more and more understanding that my work is about creating sacred spaces for healing and transformation. Spaces that contribute to a collective dreaming of a new world, build connection to place, open us to the unknown, to ancestral knowledge, to First People’s knowledge, to joy, to reciprocity. This begins with the body.
“I touch my own skin, and it tells me that before there was any harm, there was miracle.”
― Adrienne Maree Brown, Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
The gift of this last year has been seeing that my creative and bodywork are part of the same larger healing and transformational work. I see my work through DBP as not only supporting the reclaiming of our bodies’ innate intelligence, but our capacity to heal, transform and experience joy. I am deeply grateful that I got to study Yang Sheng Gong with Dana Iova-Koga, Pilates for Rehabilitation with Zeina Griffoni, Yamuna Breath Work with Yamuna Zake, and Talawa Technique with Thomas Presto during 2020’s shelter in place. None of these would’ve been possible without virtual space. I began to understand the importance of moving our bodies, listening to our bodies, feeling the rhythms and energy of our bodies, and finding pleasure and healing in movement.
“Transform yourself to transform the world,” Grace Lee Boggs.