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On Being In

Updated: Apr 2



drawing by Kathy Couch

Each week a different Architect proposes a question, prompt, or theme to accompany our individual and collective research. Our theme for this week, offered by Kathy Couch: “What do we mean by ‘being in’?” When you’re in you’re in, when you’re out you’re in…but how might we understand/explain this state of being in? What are we asking/inviting people to step into?

You can read each Architect's response by clicking on their name.


Jennifer Kayle

What does it mean to be “in”? Here is something I ended up writing for a course in 2018. I had gone back to “the 4 rules” for help, for ideas, because I was in a terrible situation that semester. I wrote one of these blurbs for each of Angeles Arrien’s 4 archetypes in the Four Fold Way, and while I did share it with the class, I mostly did it for myself. Kathy’s prompt makes me think of this first archetype, the warrior, and the primary action associated with that figure: show up and choose to be present. I considered this inner “resource” through the conceit that this warrior might ask certain questions:


SHOW UP. Beyond just getting yourself through the door (also not easy on some days), what is “showing-up” as an artistic practice? What does it mean to be “present,” and is it a discipline? Do you really arrive, or just partially? Do you avoid or resist being where you are? Can you show up in public – face exposure, stand accountable? What takes you out, away, at a remove from yourself or from what you’re actually doing - your internal critic or an agenda that’s in conflict with what’s suddenly in front of you? What about being seen? We do almost everything in our art form with, and in front of, other people. Showing up and choosing to remain present over and over, in difficult circumstances… what would this yield over time? 


When you’re in, you’re in; when you’re out…you’re IN. In a way, the sense of “showing up” that we practice refers to that last bit in the blurb, the “choosing to remain present over and over” part. We cultivate a practice of arrival and we practice learning how to sustain that.


In an upcoming book chapter on ensemble dance improvisation and collective action, one of my translations of Bratman and Ludwig’s theory is that when an ensemble member leaves the performance space, this does not mean they have left the collective, or have ceased participating in the collective action. And this is consistent with many sorts of collective action—even in paradigm cases, different roles are played by different people in a joint activity. At larger scale, it would be impossible for each and every person to be at the center of the action (and even more difficult to know what all those people are doing). The crucial part is that there remains a shared intent to do your part in carrying out the joint activity, whatever that may be. In our case, this could mean standing on the edge, tracking the dance, watching and imagining, remembering and feeling-out the next possibility in your skin and bones. I think Hubert Godard (C.I. and somatics practitioner) called these sorts of attention “vectors” – that your expectation and imagination are actually sending tangible energy into space. I wonder if he would see a synergy between that idea and our own – that even when you’re out…you’re IN—you’re still in it by being ready, by holding the space of attention for the collective, and possibly, because your attention is a tangible force that, even when you are still, watching, enters and affects the process.

Pamela Vail

Lisa Gonzales

Kathy Couch

Katherine Ferrier



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