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Movement and writing, the politics of language and thinking, embodied mind, the mind–body problem, and the origin of language have all come up for consideration in recent discussions, workshops, and reading:

  • At Movement Research’s “Moving Into Writing,”—the long table hosted by Eva Yaa Asantewaa at Gibney Dance Center—several dancers/movers/dance–makers/teachers considered the printed word essential, necessary validation and legitimization of our ephemeral medium, whether as explanation of one’s own work, as critique, or as history.
  • Two nights later at a discussion on “The Politics of Language” with Masha Gessen and Siri Hustvedt moderated by Ulrich Baer at Deutsches Haus, NYU, the focus was on the ways language has been used as an exercise of power that deliberately distorts and confuses meaning and delegitimizes social and scientific norms and structures—both in the past and currently.
  • The next day I attended “A Field Guide to iLANDING,” a workshop led by Andrea Haenggi and Carolyn Hall based on iLAND scores, including one that involved moving, kinesthesia, and writing that Andrea and Rob Neuwirth had created. At first it was quite challenging to be conscious of feeling one’s pulse while walking along the street and also seeing, hearing, thinking, and breathing. Ditto for typing up recall of these kinesthetic, auditory, and visual sensations while still feeling pulse and breathing.
  • Then, reading about politics and the brain: In neuro–linguist George Lakoff’s book The Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st Century American Politics with an 18th Century Brain, he writes that the way the brain functions, with mirror neurons firing empathetically, points to a positive emotional foundation for reason, and suggests that we are actually hard–wired for democratic values of empathy and protection—of each other, all living beings, and the environment. He has co–authored another book called Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought, which I am curious to read as I suspect that, for him, embodied mind is the brain.

At the end of the above–mentioned discussion at Deutsches Haus, Hustvedt, a writer who also teaches in a psychiatric training program, announced that she had written a book called A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, and that in it she had solved the mind–body problem.

This led me to recall that, many decades ago while interviewing for a teaching job in an interdisciplinary program at a college, I had naively yet confidently stated that from a dance perspective there was no mind–body problem. My theologian interviewer found my statement shocking and offensive and, needless to say, I was not offered the job!

Coming full circle to the “Moving Into Writing” long table mentioned above, I was recently reminded that philosopher Suzanne Langer had posited that people danced before they were able to speak and that dance was the origin of language.

More thoughts to come.


Before the May 14th performance at The Construction Company’s Sunday Series at University Settlement (clockwise from top left): Maisah Hargett, Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz, yours truly and Kaoru Ikeda. Audience comments after the performance included: “beautiful, bizarre, impressive—and funny.”

The Lemonade Variations transforms again, reflecting and responding to the many rapid changes in our current zeitgeist. You can see the latest iteration on the Construction Company’s Sunday Series on May 14th at 3 pm.

Ingrid Kullberg–Bendz and I will be joined by two new powerful performers, Maisah Hargett and Kaoru Ikeda.

University Settlement, 184 Eldridge Street (at Rivington)

Admission is $10. Seating is limited. Reservations at 212-924-7882.




St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is a truly magical as well as historical space, and it was a pleasure to perform The Lemonade Variations at DraftWork at Danspace Project last Saturday, February 25th.

Choreographer Sally Bowden, who had seen the trio excerpt at Judson in November 2016, e-mailed me: “I thought your piece went very well and looked very good. I was surprised to find four dancers in it, but it seemed to work well that way. I thought the four of you were clearly individuals and, at the same time, cohesive.”


Other feedback included my Japanese-American niece seeing Kabuki gestures; a friend enjoying the humor; and a chi kung student writing that she appreciated “the opportunity to experience a compelling piece of work. The unity of space, music, and sculptured movement was fascinating.”


Video captures, top L to R: Laura Shapiro, Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz, Mari Sakahara; middle L to R: Celeste Hastings, Laura Shapiro; bottom L to R Mari Sakahara, Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz, Laura Shapiro. For more images, click here.

Mari Sakahara has recently joined Ingrid Kullberg–Bendz and yours truly to complete the cast of The Lemonade Variations for its upcoming performance at DraftWork at Danspace Project on Saturday, February 25th at 3 pm. The piece has not only grown in length but is also infused with different ideas than the version performed in November. DraftWork is free and open to the public, so you are welcome to join us if your schedule permits. Please note that there is no late seating and my piece may be performed first.


lemonade-rehsearsalI have returned to the studio with performers Ingrid Kullberg–Bendz and Irene Siegel to prepare for our upcoming performance of The Lemonade Variations. I am choreographing an additional five minutes at the beginning and—as our zeitgeist has changed so dramatically since November—I also am rethinking the section before the ending and considering how these new developments will impact the rest of the piece.

I am grateful for the opportunity to perform and discuss this work at DraftWork at Danspace Project in the beautiful, historical sanctuary of St. Mark’s Church on Saturday, February 25th, at 3 pm. Please note that the performance and discussion are free and open to the public. You are most welcome to attend the performance and, if your schedule and inclination permit, to stay for and participate in the post–performance discussion.

LV-2nd-rehearsal_300After learning that I have been accepted to show work on Movement Research’s Monday Night Series at Judson Church in the fall (date TBA), I began to visualize more performers onstage for The Lemonade Variations. I invited Ingrid Kullberg-Benz, who has worked with me on previous projects, and Irene Siegel, who has not, to join me in the studio. They are both such accomplished pros that after just two two-hour rehearsals they have pretty much nailed the four-and-a-half minute theme containing many idiosyncratic shapes, gestures, rhythms and dynamics on which the other variations build.

Photo (L to R): Irene Siegel, Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz, and Laura Shapiro

retouched_DSC00209_500x517Late one night/early one morning, over a month ago, “Simoom,” the title of a CD by composer Lois V Vierk popped into my head, seemingly out of nowhere.

A few days later I searched for the CD and brought it into the studio. After listening to all three pieces several times, I concluded that the second piece, “Cirrus,” could work well for The Lemonade Variations.

Since the music is longer than the movement I had created, I have been lengthening some of the variations and brain-storming new ones. These investigations also have revealed more overt character/persona than I had been working with earlier.


The Lemonade Variations is the title of a new work that I began creating this past summer. I continue to experiment with several movement variations of a basic phrase and am currently searching for music that works well with the movement and will allow for further variation in performance.

Other considerations not yet decided are whether to expand the piece with sections of spoken text, whether to include other performers and, if so, whether they will be performing live or on video.

In the meantime, yellow is a wonderful color to contemplate in the winter.


I am grateful that friends and colleagues provide positive feedback and am fascinated by the way each person relates to a performance according to his/her own mindset. Dixon Place was the third venue where friends viewed After All, and they mentioned seeing new things at each performance:

  • A musician friend was struck by the unusual timbres created by the cello.
  • A writer who works in film as well as print found the integration of music, movement, and visuals seamless.
  • A neuromuscular therapist and former dancer commented on the articulation, power, and intensity of the movement.
  • A colleague who teaches dance composition found the movement choices thought–provoking, and two Tibetan Buddhist practitioners saw bardos (in–between states).

One friend told me that After All looks like a completely different piece in each venue because the video projection changes so significantly in each space. A videographer who came to the spacing rehearsal in the theatre sat in the last row during one runthrough and in the first row during the second and also commented it was like viewing two different pieces.

Video capture After All at Dixon Place