January 27, 2017

Claudia La Rocco: 
Heavy Breathing Reading Group
UC Berkeley Art Museum &
Pacific Film Archive

Heavy Breathing Reading Group presents a reading and somewhat guided movement session, led by writer Claudia La Rocco. Participants are invited to wear comfortable clothes and to bring yoga mats/props (optional).

I have been a writer as long as I can remember. It feels intrinsic to me, and it also feels honed, a pleasure and a practice that allows a sort of freedom.

Movement is another story… I was a serious amateur tennis player, studied boxing and yoga intensely, and have spent many years as a writer embedded in various performance worlds. But it wasn’t until I blew out my elbow in 2013 that I was forced to really take in my body. And it wasn’t until I met the healer Alexis Mian that I began to develop what has become a profound though still beginner’s movement practice.

I have come to see these two practices as inextricably linked. So much of my neck and shoulder pain, for example, is the result of an invisible creep happening while my body sat too still as my mind was hurtling through my writing; and prior to finding Alexis, the knowledge I had about the body came primarily from my work as a dance critic...which involved primarily watching but sometimes also dabbling in various movement worlds. And these days, I often shuttle between writing and movement exercises; these internal awarenesses have begun to rub up against each other in intriguing ways.

Which brings me to "If we are to have magical bodies, we must have magical minds," the piece I am making for the Heavy Breathing series. It is a splice of my two practices, moving between very different or maybe entirely similar movements: my writing, and Alexis’ notes to me, sometimes edited, sometimes not.

A few practical things: I am a teacher of writing but not a teacher of the body. People are encouraged to participate as they like, with any combination of imagination and body, but will be responsible for taking care of themselves as we go along, stopping if they experience discomfort, etc. It is not necessary to move to participate, and many of the notes are subtle and internal in any case. There is no correct way. Please come dressed as you would for a restorative yoga class. If you’d like to bring mats, props, bolsters, that’s fine, but not necessary.

–clr; 1/17/17; Oakland, California


Claudia La Rocco is the author of The Best Most Useless Dress (Badlands Unlimited), selected poetry, performance texts, images and criticism, and the novel petit cadeau, which was published by The Chocolate Factory Theater in print and live editions. She edited I Donʼt Poem: An Anthology of Painters (Off the Park Press) and Dancers, Buildings and People in the Streets, the catalogue for Danspace Projectʼs PLATFORM 2015, which she curated. Her poetry and prose have been published in 6X6 #34: I Like Softness (Ugly Duckling Presse), Imagined Theatres: Writing for a theoretical stage (Daniel Sack, ed; Routledge), On Value (Ralph Lemon, ed; Triply Canopy), et al.  She has received grants and residencies from such organizations as the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Creative Capital/Warhol Foundation, and Headlands Center for the Arts, and has bylines in numerous publications, including ARTFORUM,BOMB, and The New York Times, where she was an arts critic and reporter from 2005-2015. animals & giraffes, her duo with musician/composer Phillip Greenlief and an ongoing roster of collaborators, has released two albums: July (with various musicians; Edgetone Records, 2017) and Landlocked Beach (with Wobbly; Creative Sources, 2018). In February 2016 she became editor-in-chief of Open Space. 

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Heavy Breathing ︎ 2018

Critical thinking often feels heady, abstract, and divorced from the body. How do conversations change when we are moving our bodies and out of breath? What new modes of thinking become possible?