In the early dawn, when I do most of my writing, these are my muses. Midday, as we reach out with updates from our wide and varied lives, these are my friends. And before I fall asleep at night, I thank whoever’s listening for these, my sisters.
These are the Women of Enrichment, whose radical rituals in creative living have transformed the ways I dance through my day.
Photo Credit Above: Carrie Meyer of The Dancers Eye
Amanda Bolli performs under the name Amanda Mahde. A dear friend reveals that if Amanda had a smell, it would be clove, jasmine and cedar wood, and her energy does seem to waft out behind her, wooded and deep.
- The first clear memory I have of Amanda has gravitational force. On that stage, she is so present she was absent, and after I finish flat-out sobbing, I find myself in orbit.
- I choose Amanda for this project because her hands articulate some asynchronous poetry reminding me of home
- Amanda is a mother of two adorable and precocious girls, dance teacher, masseuse, poetess, black belt, atomic thinker, and one half of Ananda Dance Company
- You can learn more about Amanda at momentumdancelab.org
In many ways, Baraka’s loving practice at living is what inspires me to take the first few steps on this project. And her constant encouragement and support sustains me as I birth this project into being.
- The first clear memory I have of Baraka, she performs gracefully with a circle of women. Each woman takes her place in the center to dance her story gifting it to those holding the space with their love and attention.
- I choose Baraka for this project because it is her practice, the power of her Circle, that crystallizes all my clumsy explorations into creativity in the first place
- Baraka is a psychotherapist and writer, loving mother, authoress of the book and creative curriculum Birthing Ourselves Into Being, dancer, poetess, singer, and life coach, who integrates “experiential & expressive arts therapies with woman-centered archetypal psychology.” Her forthcoming book The Inner Circle will be available later in 2019.
- You can learn more about Baraka at holdsacredspace.com
Brandy . . . is a phenomenon. Like some wild quantum particle, she exists in simultaneous states of seriousness and hilarity.
- The first clear memory I have of Brandy is the immediate banter we strike up; her easy drawl and soaring cackle cutting right to the heart of the unspoken
- I choose Brandy for this project, inspired by the way she challenges her assumption-dragons, shocks her inertia, and ‘frankensteins it’ till she makes it
- Brandy is a mother of two, belly dancer with a theatrical range from the sublime to the goofy, fire performer, architect, ukulele enthusiast, reluctant runner, collaborator, painter, and part of my zombie apocalypse plan
- You can learn more about Brandy at discordiaarts.com
(Photo Credit: Stereo Vision Photography)
I think of DeAnna when I climb the 163 stairs from where I park my car to my desk. Imagining the sound of her voice, my throat snugs into an ujjayi breath, and soon I’m breathing more easily. And I’m grinning. The mere thought of DeAnna reminds me to seek bliss in everyday experiences.
- The first clear memory I have of DeAnna comes from my first American Tribal Style (ATS) workshop. In way over my head, I cling to her smile like a lost wanderer seizes upon a map.
- I choose DeAnna for this project because we share similar creative superpowers, essentially corporate, but surprisingly subversive
- DeAnna is a wife, urban homesteader, belly dancer with deep ATS roots, certified yoga instructor, quilter, canner, vision-boarder, spreadsheet guru and full-time accountant. And a Dance Dance Revolution champion.
- You can learn more about DeAnna at pranadancecompany.com
(Photo Credit: Studio Jaki)
I’ve been told recently that I give the best hugs. “No,” I replied, “But I learn from the best.” Jaia nestles her head over your left shoulder, whispering, “Heart to heart.” And she stands in stillness until her breathing connects to yours.
- The first clear memory I have of Jaia is a hug, her head nestling over my left shoulder, melting tension I’d never named
- I choose Jaia for this project because of the collective abandon she brings to the dance floor, and because, after that hug, she simply sets a plate of kale and eggs before me, adding me into her Circle of chosen family as if I’ve always belonged here
- Jaia is a partner, mother of three children (two dogs, a hutch of bunnies, a run of chickens, and a foreign exchange student from Norway), yogini, seamstress, jewelry maker, apparel buyer, camper, sacred dancer, and one half of Ananda Dance Company
- You can learn more about Jaia at jaiamara.com
(Photo Credit: Sara Blair Photography)
Drinking moonshine, listening to our halloos echo off the Scottish cliffs, I realized that I’d been adopted into Kate’s clan. The Sissons are an amazing family. I can’t wait until I’m issued my very own steed.
- The first clear memory I have of Kate , she showcases a shimmy technique that makes her butt cheeks clap audibly, polishing off the movement like a kid savoring cookie dough off a mixing spoon
- I choose Kate for this project, awed by her burning enthusiasm for life. At how, as a keeper and improviser of many traditions, she tempers that fire with the fluidity of her emotions.
- Kate is an athlete, healer, acupuncturist, herbalist, yogi, practitioner of Chinese medicine, Awalumni, baby mama, metaphor-maker, nurse-in-the-works, nexus of plexi, goose-honkin’, sweat lodge rollin’, bad-ass sea witch
- You can learn more about Kate at ksacupuncture.com
Whenever Majda dances, she imagines veils swooping and unfurling. And when she improvises, she’s speaking to you in color, or painting the air with sound.
- The first clear memory I have of Majda , her spinning veil hypnotizes the entire audience, uniting dancer, musicians, and audience alike under the ecstatic spell of tarab
- I choose Majda for this project because her curiosity about her culture makes her an ambassador of her art form, delighting audiences and students alike
- Majda is a lifelong student, polished dancer, violinist, drummer, teacher inspired by her Arab heritage, member in good standing of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Awalumni, well-traveled marketing manager, and, bridger of worlds
- You can learn more about Majda at majidaanwar.com/
(Photo Credit: Kismet Photography)
Nancy is the twinkle in an imp’s eye. She’s the siren you’ll never get to know, and the silhouette that will haunt your dreams.
- The first clear memory I have of Nancy radiates, like the light streaming from her fingers and toes, baby steps lengthening into the leaps of a wild gazelle, one hand wrapped around the steel hoop of her lyra, lifting bright blue eyes effortlessly out of gravity
- I choose Nancy for this project because she refuses to concede her commitment to joy, often reminding me of my grandmother, the one who ran away from home and joined the circus
- Nancy is a mother, force of empowerment within a close-knit circus family, founder of her own aerial lyra league, community advocate, and teacher, trusted deeply by her students
- You can learn more about Nancy’s circus family at versatilearts.net
When Natalie pins you with the intensity of her wild bird’s stare, in that moment, nothing else exists. She communicates her vision so powerfully that you are swept along, contributing to something larger than you both.
- The first clear memory I have of Natalie is watching her observe an afterparty, wide eyes curving out of the elaborate feather headdress she’s just performed in. Some strange goddess slumming with us mortals.
- I choose Natalie for this project because, behind her kohl-rimmed eyes, she’s launched herself with hurricane force towards some new goal, and her creative magic tends to transform the DNA of her local arts scene
- Natalie is a dancer, aerialist, fire performer, stilt-walker, flutist, director, choreographer, community arts activist, and accomplished show-woman, turning the tip and welcoming you to join her circus of strange birds
- You can learn more about Natalie at phantomcircus.com
(Photo Credit Scott Bilby)
Tired of being referred to as the ‘Tall Jessica’ in dance class, Teejei opted for the unusual spelling of her name because who needs another acronym, really? I can guarantee that you’ll never meet anyone else with the same name. And you’ll never meet anyone whose soul sparkles quite like hers.
- The first clear memory I have of Teejei involves laughter striking like lightning, letting go to tell a true story, and enfolding me effortlessly into a Circle of women willing to challenge our perceptions of what’s possible
- I choose Teejei for this project because her artwork adorns my fridge, because we oscillate at similar wavelengths, because we participate in the finer details of true collaboration
- Teejei is a storykeeper / teller, tattoo artist, drummer, Tarot reader, graphic designer, jewelry maker, yoga devotee, day / dreamer, Awalumni, and dancer, always dancing on scar tissue
- You can learn more about Teejei at teejeidesign.wordpress.com
I call Theresa “The Manifester.” Her relentless pursuit for not just the career, but the entire lifestyle of her dreams inspires me daily.
The first clear memory I have of Theresa, she regales our table with stories from the Montreux Jazz Festival. Her pale aqua eyes gleaming, smile flashing life’s backstage pass.
- I choose Theresa for this project, awed by the unflinching agency she wields to shape the life of her dreams from the chaos around her
Theresa is a full-time Manifester, planner, problem-solver, knitter, tour manager for world artists, and when the groove’s right, she’s gotta move
- You can learn more about Theresa on LinkedIn
Honorary Enrichment Women
Woven throughout are the stories of a few additional women whose paths intersect at critical junctures across the years of the project.
Heidi keeps many traditions, spinning their diversity into her own beauty, strength, and power: Aché!
- The first clear memory I have of Heidi is dancing with three generations of her family Circle, Cuban Son rolling our bones across the dance floor
- Heidi is a dancer spinning at the intersections of many traditions—jazz, tap, ballet, modern, Cuban salsa, belly dance, American Tribal Style—searching for her sweet spot
- You can learn more about Heidi at heidibaila.com
(Photo Credit: Studio Jaki)
Hilary leaves me more articulate after every encounter. Her processing process crosses ranges and dimensions from breath to breath.
- The first clear memory I have of Hilary, her nonverbal range astounds me: She’s been hauled offstage in a straightjacket, blazing, but spends the afterparty on the periphery, standing mostly silent, smiling and breathing
- Hilary is a council sharing facilitator, Tai Chi practitioner, member of Shakra Dance Company, contact improv mover, and she chooses to live and react in her own time
- You can learn more about Hilary on her Youtube channel
In Na’la’s hands, the words should and ought become torches, illuminating our assumptions and ways of being in this world.
- The first clear memory I have of Na’la , we fall deeply and irrevocably into a conversation so potent that eddies of it swirl to this day; we remain transfixed by the power of our voices—of every voice within a Circle—to transmute shame
- Na’la is a member of Shakra Dance Company, musician in DragonSong, anatomy nerd obsessed by breath, Red Tent facilitator, singing bowl sounder, council sharer, and eternal seeker of her own particular Na’ledge