The matter of Touch in these times

Hello, Dearest Dancer Loves.

How are you doing as we head into week 8 of the sheltering in place extravaganza?

I unexpectedly ran into a dear friend this week and I was aware of a strong impulse to offer a welcoming embrace. I managed to deny that impulse, to rein it in, but the desire to touch wasn’t a subtle sensation in the body, you know? As we think about “opening” in the coming weeks (hopefully), I’m aware of how exhausting it might be to manage the tendency toward tactile expression of affection. Sigh. I trust we’ll adapt, but there could be a certain level of fatigue involved. It might be similar to the “Zoom fatigue” many of us are experiencing now. Why are Zoom meeting so depleting? I found this great quote from Italian management professor Gianpiero Petriglieri, “It’s easier being in each other’s presence, or in each other’s absence, than I the constant presence of each other’s absence.” Precisely. We’re figuring out a new way of being in the world in many respects. . . .and it creates a level of exhaustion in the body. Seems like a good thing to be aware of going forward. I ache to hug you. There, I said it. It would be heavenly to wrap my arms around you in a warm, lingering, embrace. Just imagining doing so soothes me. You know what else soothes me? Putting my hand on my heart. Tara Brach explained it well in a recent NYT article re dealing with the anxiety and uncertainty of COVID19. From the article: Dr. Brach said, “You say to yourself, ‘I am afraid. I am helpless. I am feeling the grief of what could happen.’ And this is where the real pain is. You put your hand on your heart and offer compassion to the place in yourself that is helpless and fears the loss.The act of physically putting your hand on your heart is vital, Dr. Brach said, to coming to peace. “There’s a network of neurons in the heart area. When there’s warmth and pressure on it, it actually calms the sympathetic nervous system and reduces the fear centers in the brain.

With all this talk about exhaustion in the body, one wonders how we rejuvenate these vessels, right? I have a suggestion: we dance! Oh, yes. I’m finding it so incredibly exhilarating to dance with you all in the Zoom room on Sunday mornings. I’ve found my happy place (relatively speaking, of course. . . .would rather dance with you in person, but here we are).

So the big news is that our beloved and oh-so-scrumptiously talented Joseph Machado will be at the helm tomorrow. (I get giddy just thinking about the whole schpagoogy: dancing, being with you, the music, the movement, the wisdom shared, the breakout rooms after dance. . . oh, I’ve had some wonderful, albeit brief, conversations in the breakout rooms!) Yay!

Here's the link with everything you need to register and join.

The Touch by Anne Sexton

For months my hand was sealed off in a tin box. Nothing was there but the subway railings. Perhaps it is bruised, I thought, and that is why they have locked it up. You could tell time by this, I thought, like a clock, by its five knuckles and the thin underground veins. It lay there like an unconscious woman fed by tubes she knew not of. The hand had collapse, a small wood pigeon that had gone into seclusion. I turned it over and the palm was old, its lines traced like fine needlepoint and stitched up into fingers. It was fat and soft and blind in places. Nothing but vulnerable. And all this is metaphor. An ordinary hand -- just lonely for something to touch that touches back. The dog won't do it. Her tail wags in the swamp for a frog. I'm no better than a case of dog food. She owns her own hunger. My sisters won't do it. They live in school except for buttons and tears running down like lemonade. My father won't do it. He comes in the house and even at night he lives in a machine made by my mother and well oiled by his job, his job. The trouble is that I'd let my gestures freeze. The trouble was not in the kitchen or the tulips but only in my head, my head. Then all this became history. Your hand found mine. Life rushed to my fingers like a blood clot. Oh, my carpenter, the fingers are rebuilt. They dance with yours. They dance in the attic and in Vienna. My hand is alive all over America. Not even death will stop it, death shedding her blood. Nothing will stop it, for this is the kingdom and the kingdom come.

May our fingers and toes dance joyfully together (even if it’s just in the zoom room).

Sending love,


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