Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting into the Groove

The first week of training was amazing and intense.

On Monday, I rode my bike to campus to begin my daily routine of riding to campus each day, or at least until the weather turns cold and windy. It is a twenty minute ride to campus and a good morning and afternoon workout. Each day is warm and I'm relishing the absence of a jacket in my daily routine!

Monday was a day for general introductions among classmates, the second year students, the faculty and staff of my program. I felt more at home when I heard the histories of the faculty whose investment in performance spans various approaches and pathways in living a life dedicated to artistic exploration.

On Tuesday, all of the first year students, including myself, presented a 10 minute introduction piece about ourselves and the type of artistic work we have been involved in before Naropa. I presented my monologue with movement from my piece The Presence of an Absence that I premiered in April of this year. I then had five minutes to give a brief history of my performance background that has led me to Naropa. Seeing the work of my fellow classmates and hearing their stories revealed a variety of intentions and commitments to the investment in art and to the next two years of study and training. We all have similarities and differences that will spark a variety of responses and approaches to the work, thank God we don't do this work in isolation. I look forward to being stimulated and challenged by my twelve classmates and supported by a committed faculty and a contemplative atmosphere.

Wednesday morning my class met at a coffee shop in North Boulder to carpool up to a hiking trail and be led by our Acting teacher Steve on a trip called "Going to the Mountain." This trip provided an amazing opportunity in the natural landscape of Boulder to engage with each other and our own experience in embracing our new home and life. We climbed the "mountain" in silence and at times Steve rang a bell to initiate walking slowly, and he would ring it again to walk at normal pace. This exercise allowed us to meet the natural environment we were entering and not to just disregard it as a backdrop to our conversations. At one point before the top, we found a personal private space to do whatever we needed in relationship to the landscape, again in silence. The last part of the trek up the mountain was on our own and we could get there in our own way-run, walk, walk slowly, however, but we had ten minutes to get to the top. At the top we then had partners and one person closed their eyes and the other led the blind partner around the top and gave then a sensory experience-brushing twigs on them, placing rocks in their hands, etc. Lastly, when we got to the bottom again, we set up our little picnic-each one of us brought food-and half of us sat down at a picnic table with the others standing behind a person. The ones sitting closed their eyes, and the ones standing slowly fed the ones sitting down. It was a sensual and tasty experience. When you close your eyes and can't control what you put in your mouth you experience food so differently. You actually taste your food! And it is very intimate. I think any intimate relationship should try this exercise to reconnect with sensuality.

After the Mountain trip, was the official convocation for Naropa and that was nice to attend, even if we had to listen to it on a loud speaker out on the lawn. We ended the day in Meditation Practicum with Barbara Dilley. Barbara's presence and teaching was so calming and centering. Barbara danced with Merce Cunningham's company in the 60s and has been at Naropa since its inception. I am grateful that she participates in our program and is leading us in understanding meditation. What a wonderful compliment to all the physical activity we do in this program. We can learn to be mindful about the work, too!

Thursday began the real class structure. In the morning we had Developmental Technique class with our director Wendell. This class is based in Body-Mind Centering approaches to body analysis and repatterning. Basically we learn to crawl and roll on the floor to assess our movement patterns and learn the fundamentals of movement babies go through to learn to walk. I have a lot more respect for babies now-they are processing and building strength all the time to finally walk someday-no wonder they are always sleeping, it is exhausting work!

We then had Voice class with Ethie. She has a wonderful spirit and bases her approach to the voice in Roy Hart Theatre technique. Again, we were on the floor making a variety of noises and exploring the beginnings of our vocal instrument.

And then we had Acting class. Again, more floor work, but with partner work and physical weight sharing and experiential connection with the body.

Basically, we are retraining. Stripping away all the preconceived ideas and knowledge from past trainings and starting fresh to stay open to new approaches.

By the weekend I was tuckered out! I hoped to go to a ballet class, but after all that physical engagement and riding my bike to class almost everyday, my body was done. But I feel very alive in this exhaustion. And I can see on our schedule that it is only going to get more intense. I am trying to maintain a healthy diet, but I haven't figured out my grocery shopping routine, yet, nor what types of meals are best to make.

Now I put a call out to all of those reading this-if you've gotten this far!-please send me any recipes you have of good dishes that can last a couple of meals. Or that you love to take with you to work for lunch. I need some good lunch ideas, as there is nothing close by to our campus-and besides, I can't afford to eat out. Send some of your favorite dishes my way, please!

After two weeks here, I feel that I am settling into some kind of routine and becoming more familiar with Boulder-thanks to my bike! Unfortunately, I found that I have a flat tire as I attempted to ride my bike back from school today. So I left the bike on campus and will pump it up tomorrow. I took the bus home for the first time here. All I have to do is get on the Jump! It's all just a Hop, Skip, and a Jump around here.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing your Boulder stories Jason! It sounds like your mission to get out of your mind and back into your body fully is definitely going to be met at Naropa.

    This is a super easy recipe that is a yummy protein hit. Double it and make a pot of rice and you'd be set for lunches for the week:

    Chana Masala


    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 large clove of garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon curry
    1 tablespoon tomato paste (I used ketchup, how embarrassing Smiley)
    15 oz can chick peas, drained, reserving 3 tablespoon liquid
    1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    fresh black pepper
    crushed red pepper, optional to taste
    1 tablespoon margarine


    I don't know how authentic this is, but I whipped it up last night. It tasted great to me.

    Heat oil on medium high heat. Fry onions until slightly browned. Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic, curry, and paste. Stir and simmer about 2 minutes. Add chick peas, liquid, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper. Simmer 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add red pepper to taste. Add margarine, stirring through to melt it. Stir and simmer for 5 minutes more or until peas are softened and dish is hot. Serve over rice.

    Makes: 2-4 servings, Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 15 minutes

  2. darling, your program sounds so great... I love that you began with the relationship to nature!

    One food suggestion is to cook up a bunch of lovely whole grain rice (there are some nice blends, with red, black, long grain, etc.), and use that as a base for a cold rice salad -- one day add tuna and mayo, the next walnuts and apples, etc.

    Have you met Ryan Kennedy yet? (he teaches there, but not in the Performing curriculum) Say "hi" to him from me!

    Looking forward to reading more of your process and adventure into performance, consciousness expansion, and new relationships!

    xox Paul