Jean Colonomos

Jean Colonomos is a former member of the Martha Graham Dance Company and a former freelance dance journalist who wrote for publications such as Dance Magazine and The Village Voice.  Her award-winning play, Black Dawn, is based on psychogenic blindness many Cambodian women suffered in the wake of Pol Pot’s Cambodian genocide. 


                               In the nineteen sixties I was a member of the Martha Graham Dance Company.

We are the Graham crackers
who worship at the Temple of the Pelvic Truth.
We pray to the Kundalini and Duende Goddesses
where our contractions and releases,
like these holy preachings,
begin at the base of our spines.

We start our rituals on the floor,
some of us anticipating the classes’ tone
from the pianist accompanying that day.
Tom, our least favorite,
bangs out a 4/4 beat
missing the sensuous innuendos
in Martha’s movement vocabulary.

A small group enjoys
drip-dry jazz king Ralph.
He teases out a note
and then                    silence.
When we’re about to give up,
he plunks another key
to inform our next move.

And then there’s Stanley
whose swelling chords
seep into our bodies.
When he plays, we lose
how imperfect we are,
how awful is our balance,
our contractions,
and our being.
We are truly gone.


I’m happy to report
the lines on my face
are still double-spaced.


When Isabelle starts pre-K this fall, my daughter asks her four year old whether she wants to learn French or Spanish.  Plain, Isabelle replies, meaning plain English.
My year-plus grandson, William, teeter totters, then kerplops on his tush.  When he’s frustrated, he’ll sometimes crumple into a ball and cry.
During Isabelle’s dance recital, she pays little attention to the teachers at stage right and left performing the steps.  My granddaughter has memorized the routine and improvises when she forgets what’s next.
Giddy William watches his sister dance, rocks his head back and forth, then bends up and down in sync with the head-banger music.
When I snap Isabelle into her car seat, she strokes my cheek saying, I love your skin, Nana, then points to my forehead saying, that’s my favorite part.
Six months after her brother enters the world, Isabelle asks her mother, When can we have another William?

*title of Byron Katie’s book