On the occasion of her book’s publication, she spoke about using her phone — and putting it down — to share her dancing with the world. These are edited excerpts from the conversation.
Why did you start Personal Practice?
I started it in Lancaster while I was at the Movement Intensive in Compositional Improvisation, a yearly intensive I go to with the Architects. They’re four women — Katherine Ferrier, Lisa Gonzales, Jennifer Kayle and Pamela Vail — who teach improvisation as a mode of performance. I had graduated from the University of Michigan with a dance degree in 2010 and moved back to my hometown in Michigan and wasn’t dancing a lot. I was running a business and using social media for that, and I thought, this could also be an easy way to document and share my movement.
When did it become a daily practice?
A few weeks in I realized, whoa, I just did this a few days in a row. I struggle with addiction and can be a little bit spacey and have trouble with commitments, so it was rare for me to do something many days in a row. It made me feel good about myself to practice this form of improvising. I thought, this is how I’ll stay accountable. I’ll post a video here every single day of me dancing, whether I want to or not.
Part of the work of the Architects is being unattached to outcomes. I wasn’t trying to do anything other than dance more, and that happened. The rest is just the magic of showing up for yourself.
What did you learn about your dancing?
I learned that I don’t need much space. The only tool I need is my body. If I have two feet of room, I can dance. I learned that I can dance to anything. Outside of Instagram, I collaborate with musicians making instrumental, ambient, experimental music. That’s what I love performing and improvising with, but it also feels good to dance to Beyoncé and the Supremes and Journey.
Why do you think it resonated with people?
I’m not afraid to show myself, and I think, in watching me, people feel that same permission — like, here’s this girl who, yes, is a trained dancer, but she’s really just messing around in her living room. She’s really just on the edge of a cliff somewhere.
Do you ever feel a tension between dancing, which requires being so present in the moment, and being on your phone?
Totally. An important question for me is how do we put the phone down and participate in our real lives as movers, as embodied people? One product of Personal Practice was that I started teaching again. It’s felt incredible to share this work with other people who also want to move their bodies. In part that’s why I made the book; as I hold it in my hand, I’m reminded of the power of the physical form.
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