Powerful India Video: Rising before we die!

June 20, 2011

In India we saw it. InterPlay could make miracles happen. Traveling into places of great need, over and over caregivers would question whether their community would respond. Repeatedly, men, women, parents, children ROSE UP. Factory workers ROSE UP. People with multiple sclerosis, leprosy, mental illness, disabled vets seized hope from the InterPlay teachers. Women in the slum laughed and rejoiced. They wanted to live.

We see the same thing happen in the US. InterPlay’s set of simple-to-do invitations lead people to reconnect, move, give voice and speech, and enjoy stillness. This rising phenomenon happens among homeless men in a shelter and among privileged, educated men and women often at odds, depressed, and despondent about the world.

How does one live? Mystics and artists enter the dance of life, the color, the song and breath of life. Do not wait for suffering to end. Life brings its own medicine. Our creative spirit is this medicine.

Prashant, Hazel, Jaime and Ligia contribute great heart to life, peace, and the love of the Divine in India. Yet, InterPlay was founded in the US amongst people who deeply need the integration of grace and wholeness. Doesn’t it make sense that those saturated in western, body-anxious ways would also need to find balance and life? Trying to understand the relationship of dance, the body, and theology I trained with Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant scholars at the Graduate Theological Union. Father Jake Empereur SJ, was a pivotal doctoral program advisor. He also taught ballroom dance.

I am grateful to all individuals so full of grace, wisdom, and fun who taught me. But most of all I am grateful to the wisdom of our body, the best teacher on the planet for those who are ready to rise.

admitted we were powerless…

June 13, 2011

Ever been in utter overwhelm, down-on-your-knees-I-give-upness? You may have discovered that the first step is to admit it.

I am always glad when I get to that place. Why? Because spaciousness soon follows.

I don’t know about you but I find a lot of life overwhelming. National budgets for instance. The weather. My inherited privileged position. Parenting. Being parented. Cooking dinner. Insidious nonverbal messages which tell me to eat more, do more, buy more and to feel bad when I do. Crazy. Over the last few weeks I admitted it. “I am deeply disturbed.”

Yet, body wisdom has other advice. There is another way. Slow down, touch stillness, rest, and if  lucky get with people with arms wide open to mystery, people who sing or dance with abandon to remember who they really are, or at least readily admit they are not in charge. When this happens answers can arrive without force.

Can we do something like this on a wider collective level, welcome that spaciousness that begins with admitting and opening the body to something greater?

We need to allow room for it. It won’t come with a 5 year plan. Oddly, it comes most quickly when we “hook up” our strangely wonderful dance-song-spiritbody.

Yeah, this still surprises me, too. They get it in India. But, it’s a hard sell in a country founded by super serious guys who tried to talk, write, and decree everybody be free the same as them, with NO DANCE on Sundays.

The body knows best how to get to greater wisdom. That is why Phil and I cooked up the InterPlay Secrets of Effective Groups: “bodies, not machines.” When groups can shake out some rampant expectations, take some deep breaths around the fury of activity, learn what the body wants, and let it communicate– we see something new. Most of the time they don’t even have to dance to see it.

How do I know? I watch and listen to the body. People feel better. They start to like each other. In their powerlessness, space opens. They get some power back.

Phil and I will share the Secrets for Effective Groups in Oakland and also in Berkeley at the Pacific School or Religion this summer. When we are in your area we’d love to share them with your work or community.

72 year old found Color of Hope @ InterPlay

June 6, 2011

It is a strange gift to overhear people who don’t know me say that after struggling with heavy hearts, stormy lives, and depression, for the first time in a long while in an InterPlay class something new happened. They felt joy. Hope.

I know. InterPlay is heaven-sent to me, too. Hope is a miracle.

Naomi Pridjian, all 72 years of her, writes a blog on hope. She went to Jane Siarny’s InterPlay group in Chicago after hearing her friend Anne Sigler (Albuquerque) talk it up. Now she’s hooked. She said,

“My goal is joy in exploding colors of the rainbow—the same experience as being in love—an experience of complete, indescribably harmonious fulfillment. I get that when I dance at my InterPlay sessions and am transported beyond my self…into my Self…together with God. My cup is not half full or all full, it runneth over. How this happens is pretty simple: I drive to the place where the InterPlayers gather, participate fully and receive not only happiness, but Joy. It is a type of prayer and worship. Each time I go, I make a down payment on more of it. I haven’t lost my concerns or troubles, I’ve turned my mourning into dancing for a while and the color of anxiety/despair/hopelessness lightens…” Read the rest here.

Why is it so delicious when something you do matters? Dunno. Just know that it makes me glad.

Thanks to all of you who create containers for hope! You may be giving someone a memory they’ll never forget!

Phil will be in Chicago soon! Check it out…come play even if you want to just watch! There is much more to see on the website happening in Chicago!

Witness the Next Gen Arise!

May 27, 2011

Arts and Social Change 2010 Grads

I am taking every bit of juicy InterPlay as a birthday present to me! Yes, I am another year older. And no I am not in my twenties, thirties or forties! But the next amazing group of artist-activist-life enthusiasts who have applied is! Prepare for the 2011 July Arts and Social Change Training

This year 15 dancers, media artists, theater artists, musicians, activists, writers, chaplains, expressive artists, and community organizers have applied. Two from India. Two from Australia. Others connecting with InterPlay in Seattle, Indiana, Kansas City, Pennsylvania, Raleigh North Carolina, and California.

I can’t wait to meet people like Rehana who said,

My interest in community education grew and took me to work as a cocreator/facilitator of youth lead community learning spaces in the informal settlements of Nairobi and in social neighbourhoods in Toronto. Regardless of the issue at hand – be it sexual and reproductive health with adolescent girls in Nairobi, or water conservation and quality with youth in Toronto, I always managed to incorporate theatre and dance as forms of expression, to apply theory to practice, to observe ourselves, to co-vision, build community, transform conflict and to re- imagine our realities. And although I managed to incorporate these elements of art into my work, I was often left yearning for more theatre, more dance, more movement needs which my positions within structures could not always satisfy.

Or Stephanie from Sydney who wrote with typical Aussie humor

I was 5 years old and the school implemented a program called “electives” which was a few hours one afternoon a week where we could choose a class and participate in an all age ‘interest group’… I chose percussion, and I was quite excited. During the first session I was no doubt thumping some maraccas with great gusto when the group was interrupted by a teacher who told me as we left the room that I would now be in the singing group. I was disappointed, until I learned that I’d been selected to star in the school musical as the baby elephant who asks too many questions… “stop asking questions, you ask to many questions, you’re always asking questions all day long” is the chorus that the other animals in the cast sang to me. I loved it! I still love to perform and, do I ask too many questions? Well, that’s a matter of opinion I guess!

How thrilling this last year to follow through with 2010 Next Genners Agnotti (now organizing Masankho’s Chicago Cultures of Peace in November), Sally (interning with us at InterPlayce next year supported by Mennonite Voluntary Service) Joy Anna (organizer for Masankho’s May trip to Asheville) and Olivia with whom I’m scheming to put art on the front of InterPlayce! (Talk to me if you think this is the coolest idea!) The others are up to much magic, too!

When wonderful people connect to wonderful people in wondrous ways, what in the future is possible? Help us find out!

What if you won the InterPlay Lottery?

May 16, 2011

OK, so maybe it’s not quite as exciting as winning millions, but we thought you’d like to know that a bunch of InterPlay communities around the country just got big fat checks to use for growing InterPlay in their home towns.


If you live in Seattle or Minneapolis or Raleigh or Boston or Pittsburgh, Washington DC or Oakland, you probably heard something last year about an InterPlay Million Connections fundraiser happening in your town. Part of the funds went to support the international spread of InterPlay. And part of those funds are coming directly back to the communities that organized them – to help create more InterPlay.

You might be wondering, “What is this money for?”

This money represents the collective statement by InterPlayers in those regions that, “We believe InterPlay makes a difference in the world, and we’d like to see more of it!” So the easiest answer to how these funds can be spent is, “Anything that creates more InterPlay in your region!” Possibilities might include:

¨      Pay a stipend to a regional organizer to coordinate publicity and plan InterPlay events

¨      Provide scholarship support to up-and-coming leaders to lead new classes and build bridges between cultures, groups, and generations.

¨      Pay an organizer who is inspired to start an InterPlay project in a homeless shelter or at-risk youth program or prison.

¨      Organize InterPlay performances-on-behalf-of, offering the gifts of stories, dances and songs at a benefit event or outreach performance.

If you don’t happen to live in one of these cities, but you share the passion for InterPlayful ways of changing the world, let us know! We would be happy to hear about your specific interests and support ways to friend and fund raise the InterPlay way in your community.

Want to see what’s happening in some InterPlay communities across the country? Read great connection stories by clicking here. Check out websites for Seattle, Raleigh, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Asheville, Australia, Brazil and On Facebook:  India on Facebook, The UK. The Midwest. If I missed your page or site let me know!

Thanks for creating artful and life changing connections that weave the world we like to live in –


P.S. – Remember to Count Your InterPlay Connections here. It only takes a few seconds. It’s “international group noticing” – noticing together how many creative connections we’re making, and how that’s affecting our lives and our communities.

Don’t tell Mom I’m just playing?

May 8, 2011

Don’t tell Mom that I’ve gone public with my testimony about her brave, beautiful journey of dancing with Alzheimer’s on my other blog, Mystic Tech. Here’s the link. I’m proud that InterPlay offers ways to uplift our community members who suffer with dementia, depression, and other d words. We’re more than a disease, we’re dancers.

Don’t tell Mom that little by little I’ve learned that I don’t have to work so hard. Mom works hard even with Alzheimer’s. Nap? Naaaaaa. Fortunately, she always told me to do what I love. Thanks Mom! I am working on it!

Don’t tell Mom that I broke the secret pact that gives her dibs on being the only good cook in our family. Turns out that I wrote a cookbook for the heart, What the Body Wants: InterPlay. It’s full of recipes for the secret sauce, chewy morsels, and creamy centers of life. O.K., it’s not an actual cookbook. I’ll never cook a meal like you, Mom.

Don’t tell Mom about the other Mother’s: Mother Earth, the Great Mother of us all, Mother Death, and the Mom in me. Tell her, though, that She Alone is mother of my dancing heart. I love you Mom.

I wish I could tell Mom

• that InterPlay got a $25,000 county grant for innovations in mental health to work with Homeless Seniors and how Phil is leading the team that is offering that program through 2012.

•  that I am off to England to lead the first Arts and Social Change: Secrets of InterPlay and that my sister and I get to visit her ancestor’s villages.

• about meeting and mentoring young artists from the US, Australia, India, South America, and Rwanda who are signing up for InterPlay’s Arts and Social Change Next Gen program

or that granddaughter #1 got her first paid gig as a makeup and hair artist, and that granddaughters #2 and #3 are equally gorgeous, smart and about to graduate from 9th and 12th grade.

Mom would probably nonchalantly say, “As long as you’re all happy,” cuz a good mom knows she did her job if her offspring find happiness.

I AM HAPPY with a plus sign. I AM AWAKE, ALIVE, LOVED and AN ARTIST, teaching others how to play, find ease, and create a good life. Thanks, Mom(s)!

Inner Peace

April 25, 2011

The magic of the soul is spontaneous. Inner peace arises from this source. We may only need to rest in silence, plant a flower, let breath give way to song, or give our heart flight in dance.

Mystics and sages have said all along– “If you let this presence settle in your bones, and allow the soul freedom, to love, to dance, to sing, to praise, there will be inner peace today.” Teresa of Avila

I am grateful to Amanda and LAVA for bringing Teresa of Avila’s words to us. We stood in a circle with them at InterPlayce holding light and drinking in this song. Find out more about LAVA touring from New Zealand and their new CD “Dream Love Dare” at MySpace.

Peace to you. Know that if you dance, sing, praise, love, you do it for more than yourself. You are a pulse in the Great Heart felt by everyone.

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