photo by Lise Metzger*

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Hi and welcome to the website. And welcome to my new blog! Please feel free to visit often.

October 25, 2016

Three years ago, I wandered into an art exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland entitled Witches and Wicked Bodies. I was in Scotland to train theater and puppetry companies in my Critical Response Process, and took a break to visit the beautiful museum to clear my mind. I was in for a big surprise: the museum show made me crazy.

I cried.

I swore.

I gaped.

The exhibition covered five hundred years of prints and drawings of witches by some of the greatest illustrators from the West, as well as unknown churchmen and a few women artists. The pictures ranged from the explicitly sexual to the wildly mysterious, but the depiction of women's bodies as lethal, poisonous, powerful, strange was persistent, regardless of the historical period from which the image came.

I have carried "Witches and Wicked Bodies" exhibition book around with me since seeing the show, continuing to contemplate these pictures that are pornographic, symbolic, ugly, mythic, epic and downright hideous, but also compelling in their presentation of grinning women of strength and magical powers.

The images express so many issues about women and our bodies that have been constant and persistent for centuries. Fear of bodily functions, horror at what knowledge women might possess, disgust at the way women carry on daily existence, and the crumbling of beauty as women age, are portrayed directly as well as metaphorically with animals, celestial objects, weapons, and peculiar ceremonies playing significant roles. However, through it all, the women show more power than victimhood, more joy than diminishment. It may well be my "reading" of the images, but I see a sly humor and a raucous perspective that would be lovely to match alongside the gruesome deaths and torture that were the outcomes of many of the narratives. This is something I'm currently thinking about developing into a piece – more to come on this project.

July 7, 2016

As many of you know, I'm starting a faculty position at Arizona State University this fall. I'm thrilled to have been invited to ASU and hope that I will be able to consolidate some of my many interests in one place.

I'm pleased to announce that John Borstel will be joining me in Arizona as the Director of Critical Response Process Initiatives. There is a lot of momentum around CRP across the U.S. and internationally; John will help to harness this energy through his organizational capacity and future goals for CRP…and he will do all this while also working our next CRP book, a collection of essays about CRP by practitioners around the world as well as by John and myself; the book is scheduled for publication in 2018 from Wesleyan University Press.

Based on my recent CRP seminar at ICON (Innovative Conservatoire), London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama created some short videos about CRP-in-action. These videos help give context to what a CRP workshop is like: http://www.gsmd.ac.uk/about_the_school/research/research_areas/transformational_feedback/

May 14, 2016

The spring has been full of Critical Response workshops, both at home and abroad. In January, I made my third trip to introduce CRP to graduate students at Yale School of Drama. It's enlightening to see the different ways people are using CRP as a part of their artistic practice or in their everyday lives.

John Borstel and I led a CRP keynote for 4,000 participants at the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) in March. It was a challenging and rewarding task to bring CRP to such a large group of participants.

I also made a visit to Helsinki to lead a three-day CRP seminar for conservatory faculty from across Europe, through ICON. There is a real hunger for new ways of giving and receiving feedback in conservatories. One participant noted after the week, "I feel that I can use the structure of Critical Response to interrogate myself in a really useful way…so the pain of not being wonderful /perfect/inspirational is transformed into proper perspective and use."

Closer to home I led CRP workshops with Baltimore Participatory Action Research, and co-led with Vincent Thomas a CRP/movement workshop for Baltimore Racial Justice Action.

May 5, 2016

Exciting news continues for Healing Wars: Parables of War, a documentary film focused on some of the development process of Healing Wars, has been acquired for distribution, allowing the film to be distributed across North America and Europe (and of course online and streaming). The film, directed by Nina Gilden Seavey, was part of the National Civil War Project and has won a number of festival awards. Parables of War shines its lens on a very particular part of my work, making it possible for audiences to see art in action. There will be a free screening of the film and a Q&A on Thursday May 12 in Takoma Park, MD.

If you missed it, I moderated the Pecha Kucha plenary at APAP NYC – it was a pleasure to share the stage with thoughtful, courageous artists.

Forthcoming:
Check my calendar page, and if you're in or around DC, you can see someone else's view of bits our Healing Wars development process at the AFI screening of Nina Gilden Seavey's "Parables of War". If you go, let me know what you think! I've spent my life making what might be called "non-fiction dance," yet to be the subject of a documentary film was full of surprises.