Somatic Writing

Somatic Writing Series: Cynthia Oliver, Nina Haft, and Jill Randall

Somatic Writing 1

Design by Claire Calalo Berry of Flourish and Frost

I am thrilled to run this new series on the blog. Nine dancers share ideas around somatic themes
and how these themes play out in our lives right now - such as softening, allowing, activating, and
slowing down to feel.

Like "flash fiction writing," each writer took on the challenge of sharing their ideas in 100 words or less.
I hope you might get inspired to write on these themes as well, succinctly and poetically within this word limit!

Today we hear from Cynthia Oliver, Nina Haft, and yours truly. Cynthia and Nina have contributed numerous
posts to Life as a Modern Dancer over the years. Find some of those additional links below.

Be well,

Jill Randall
Blog Director, Life as a Modern Dancer

on Somatics

Regarding somatics and blackness

Aren’t we already somatic?
Don’t need to announce, defend or prove?
That key word so often wielded to ignite or indict.
Exclude or preclude
Just move your move.
You don’t have to name your body part to know its wield and weight
Don’t need to demonstrate, placate or soothe
to a new tune
somatic can be fierce
and fast
can attack
Can flip that quick twitch switch
be useful and necessary
Can also be black
and soft
and sensorial
and sensitive
Slow is a groove too
It don’t require no special tone or approach
No voice nor cadence
You can
just do you
And be somatic


Cynthia Oliver is an award winning choreographer/performer.
She is professor of dance and associate vice chancellor for humanities,
arts, and related fields at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

slow down to feel

astonishing what happens at the speed of mindfulness
superb dances of infinite possibility alive in
every choice
gradually shifting my weight
my muscles and bones
departure and arrival all
at the same time
when i forget to see
i am also choosing
slow dance says here right here
start again
i want to mend this
my relentless forgetting
and feel the spaces
ive rushed through

Nina Haft (she/her) is a choreographer, educator and community builder
living on unceded Chochenyo Ohlone land, aka Oakland, CA.
She is a Professor of Dance at Cal State East Bay, and a student of urban wilderness.

We catalog our movement preferences – the classes and choreographies and lesson plans.

So much in the body. So much felt, experienced, and made. 

Some days we keep on with the same.

A few questions, please. Is this habit, choice, or the only option?
Seeking stability? Savoring the past and prior?

Eleven months into shelter in place, I am crawling out of my skin and of this house.
Time for variety and variation. This will lead to enlivening, new pathways,
and welcoming in newness and change.
Slower, faster, broader, brighter. Longer; softer.

My next artistic challenge will be all about variety. 

Jill Randall is a dancer in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the artistic director of
Shawl-Anderson Dance Center and the creator of the Life as a Modern Dancer Blog.


Related posts:

Somatic Writing Series: Bhumi B. Patel, Andrea Olsen, and Elizebeth Randall Rains

Somatic Writing Series: Sima Belmar, Leah Cox, and Molly Rose-Williams

Artist Profile: Cynthia Oliver

Blog Series: Studio Practice/Studio Time (with Nina Haft)

Invitations: 52 Movement Poems - by Jill Randall




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