prompted by Donna Mejia (dance) and Charlie Miller (theater)
Embodiment, according to Manuela Mischke-Reeds, “is feeling oneself directly, without the constant narration or interpretation of our thinking mind. This embodiment has no judgment, no commentary from an inner belief, and no filters, but rather presents the raw data of the body “as is.” We can call this present-moment body awareness-direct communication from our deeper self or embodiment. This is a moment in which we are not bound by past or future, and can live in the present moment. We often describe this simple yet elusive sense as coming home , being close to oneself, or simply here. This points us to the value of being-ness rather than doing-ness.” 
Our somatic intelligence is informed by powerful cultural and personal lineages. Our portals to experiencing creativity, relationship, community, and encountering the unfamiliar rely on libraries of information within our bodies and minds. This unique intelligence is intertwined with the identities chosen or assigned to us. A new conversation has emerged globally on exploring embodied juxtapositions: it asks what is inherent to somatic intelligence; what is unique in individual intelligences; and what is somatically impacted and driven by our sociocultural entanglements.
Questions from the prompters for our conversation:
What do I presume to be true about my body?
What cultural collisions have I experienced and how have those encounters reverberated in my body?
What doubts, frustrations, and questions occur to me when I am encountering the unfamiliar?
What tools do I possess, or crave to recover, more wonder and freedom in somatic and embodied living and creation?
What spaces and relationships best support embodiment?
And what changes when other humans are involved, either as collaborators or audience members? In other words, how does relationship and performance affect somatic embodiment?
Donna’s viral 2020 open letter about cultural appropriation to the transcultural fusion dance community
Creating Conditions that Promote Learning from the Body, Annie Murphy Paul.
Introduction to Bodies in Commotion: Disability Studies in Commotion with Performance Studies by Carrie Sandahl and Philip Auslander. Bodies in Commotion is the first book of essays to explore the intersection of performance and disability studies.
CU Boulder’s Associate Professor Donna Mejia is a member of the Theatre & Dance Department, and the Inaugural Chancellor’s Scholar of Health and Wellness for the Crown Wellness Institute. She is also affiliated faculty for Women & Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, the LGBTQIA2S+ Certificate program, and the Center for Teaching & Learning. She is the first tenured faculty globally for Transcultural Fusion Dance (TcFD), a hybrid tradition that dialogs dances of the African and Arab Diasporas with American Hip Hop and Contemporary Dance. Her 40 years of study in yoga, meditation and somatic studies continue to be central in all that she does. Her scholarship, performances, and advocacy work in TcFD created a cascade of decolonization actions and language in the genre, and she was awarded a 2021 Legends of Dance Award by the Carson Dance Library, and the 2022 CU President’s DEI award for faculty. Donna’s scholarship merging the study of cultural retention, colonial imperialism, gender representation, and digital globalization received the 2011 Selma Jean Cohen Fulbright Honor for International Dance Scholarship. This interdisciplinary work and her performances, approached through the vantage point of her multi-heritage identity, have inspired connections to many astonishing people and fields of study, taken her around the world, instigated a life-long devotion to learning, and inspired her efforts towards upliftment through education. Donna’s private projects include directing the philanthropic efforts of The Sovereign Collective, directing the Gather at the Delta Initiative, curating and designing thoughtful public projects, presenting Fumble Forward conflict resolution talks, collaborating with her research partner Dr. Valerie Joseph, designing electronic music, sewing, curating art-infused works and environments, and writing. For more information about her publications, performances, awards, and endeavors, please visit: https://donnainthedance.com/
Charlie Miller (he/him) is Executive Director of Off-Center at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He co-founded Off-Center in 2010 as a small theatrical test kitchen and has grown it into a signature line of programming for the DCPA, credited with bringing immersive theatre to Colorado and helping establish Denver as a national hub for immersive art. Through Off-Center, Charlie has created and produced projects for audiences ranging in size from one to one thousand, taking place in public spaces, large arenas, traditional theatres, 16,000 square foot warehouses, bookstores, horse stables, and everything in between. Off-Center’s large-scale immersive and experiential projects, including Sweet & Lucky (2016), The Wild Party (2017), Between Us (2019), The Last Defender (2019), Camp Christmas (2019-2022), and Theater of the Mind (2022) have garnered local and national praise and engaged hundreds of thousands of audience members.
1 Somatic Psychotherapy Toolbox by Manuela Mischke-Reeds (pp. 10-11).