My practice and development
"For many years I have been pursuing a profound interest in the body, environment and the language of movement. My work has followed a passion to listen more deeply to the body's subtleties of movement, and to explore the human need to find a language for what is beneath our words. For me there has never been one way, I have needed to explore between moving, writing, making, sound and visual imagery; between working with others in bodywork or movement and working as a performer - shifting between the poetry of metaphor and language, the sensuousness of making and materials and the feeling world of the body, to make visible the elusive multi-layered nature of our experience. My work has evolved through ongoing collaborations and research in performance and teaching alongside working as a body therapist/ movement educator (both independently and within the NHS)."  

After studying English under Frank Kermode at University College, London I trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance, and in New York at the Cunningham Studio, with Nancy Topf and Simone Forti. Other significant influences have been Alexander Technique, Craniosacral therapy, Contact Improvisation, Release, Tai’ Chi. In 1976 I came back to London where I joined the Rosemary Butcher Dance Company whilst also beginning my own work with Martha Grogan.

Early Performances
1976- 1987 initially my work was concerned with non stylized movement, a stripping down to the detail and patterning of pedestrian movement. Following a collaboration with Tim Head for the Whitechapel Gallery (1980), I began to work with light, film and projection to make visible the invisibles of body and space. I was fascinated by the small, yet often enormous and surprising shifts of perception that occur in the body as we move, and in deepening connection to place. With long term collaborator, Dennis Greenwood we made work for outdoors, for galleries & theatres creating site-specific events with light & sound environments. Changing Steps (1976) Shift, and a series of pieces for the Whitechapel Gallery (1980) with Tim Head and Dennis Greenwood), Other Rooms( 1981) Silver (1981) Night Pieces (1983) Split, Huge Veil (1983) with David Ward, Urban Weather (1985) with Stuart Brisley.

Collaborations with Chris Crickmay.
In 1977 whilst performing at the Acme Gallery, London I met Chris Crickmay and so began what has been a key dialogue over many years around creative process. Our first collaboration involved a programme for the Open University on improvised dance for ‘non-dancers’, entitled "Dance Without Steps". Later we co-authored two handbooks for creative practice, Body Space Image 1990, and A Widening Field 2004. We continue to work and research together both in the studio and in performance and teaching - a territory we have come to call ‘Body and Imagination’. Among the many sources for this work, we owe a debt to James Hillman and Shaun McNiff.

Collaborations with others is a rich and vital part of my work. Dancers have included Martha Grogan, Dennis Greenwood, Eva Karczag, Tim Rubidge, Simon Whitehead. Visual artists Tim Head, Stuart Brisley, David Ward, Caroline Lee and Simon Hyde. Musicians - Sylvia Hallett, Jonah Brody and sound sculptor, Will Menter.

In 1980 with dancer Laurie Booth we initiated the Independent Dance Programme in London to support the training of independent dancers offering regular workshops with dance artists from around the world.

From 1987-2006
After 3 years in northern British Columbia, and the birth of our two sons I moved with my then partner Hugh Brody to an old mill in rural Cumbria. During this time I taught movement and experiential anatomy whilst training at Fellside Alexander School and began to work within the NHS. Coming to knowing a place through 18 years of seasons and weather deeply informed my understanding of the body and movement. A weekly movement group met in my studio throughout these years and we explored the nature of body, landscape and imagination. During this time I also began an ongoing performance collaboration with musician Sylvia Hallett.

Landlight (1988), Passages (1990) (nominated for Northern Electric Arts Awards)Soft Shell, In the Grain of the Body (1994), commissioned by Dance Umbrella, Invisible Forces of Silver (1996). These pieces combined sound, movement and light to create a series of richly textured performance landscapes and opened in our local village hall before touring. A film W I N G was made in 1999 (10 mins). Venues include : Whitechapel Gallery, London, Arnolfini Bristol, Almeida Theatre, The Place, Riverside Studios, London, Museum of Modern Art Oxford, Ikon Gallery Birmingham, Tramway and Third Eye Glasgow, Traverse Edinburgh, Gulbenkian Studio Newcastle, Nuffield Studios Lancaster, Mappin Gallery, Sheffield, Holland Festival, State Opera House Skopje, Macedonia.

Arts and health
From 1990 I worked part time as an Alexander teacher within the NHS for a GP surgery. In 2000 this expanded into an arts and health collaboration with choreographer Tim Rubidge. This became known as the Breath of Fresh Air project. We worked in close dialogue with the health service across Cumbria and Northumberland to engage people isolated through chronic poor health with a creative arts practice. My latest book When I Open My Eyes dance health imagination (2017) gives an account of this. 

Recent performance 2006- present
Spirit Level (2000)a group piece with storyteller Malcolm Green, Tim Rubidge, Chris Crickmay, Sharon Higginson. Langwathby Village Hall and Queens’ Hall, Hexham Breath (2004) with Rosetttalife, video artist Simon Hyde, musician Sylvia Hallett , and people from St Thomas's Dimbleby day centre hospice shown at Riverside Studios, London. Recurring Mice (2006) with Rosettalife, Lucia Walker and women from St Thomas cancer support group Where Light Meets Stone (2006) a site specific event with sound sculptor Will Menter and Chris Crickmay. The Pneuma Project (2014/15) (see current work)Redefining Beauty (2016) Performance with 12 older people and RosettaLife for Victoria and Albert Museum in response to Julia Cameron exhibition.

 “Of all the dangers we face the greatest is the deadening of our capacity to respond … we are not substances that abide, we are patterns that perpetuate themselves; we are whirlpools in rivers of everflowing water. The sense of self shifts from noun to verb, from a separate enduring entity that needs its comforts and defences, to a dancer in relationship to life around us “ Joanna Macey