An Improvised Life
Dancing My Way Back
I launched my artistic life, at age nine or so, with a teacher who danced with Anna Pavlova. Over the next 35 years, I performed, taught, wrote, and talked about dance - including as director of American Dance Festival’s (ADF) International Critics Conferences, and dance critic for the News & Observer for about 30 years. After a 25-year hiatus, I returned to dance in 2016, at age 71, with Murmurs, a solo generously created for me by Doug Varone. With my poetry as source material, it was originally made for the live performance for Things My Mother Would Have Told Me If…,with my daughter Leah Sobsey for a 2016 Carrack Modern Art juried installation. Li Chiao Ping Dance then invited me to perform Murmurs, and to tour with the company in Landed.
I've been dancing and performing ever since,
2023: Mark Haim's This Land is Your Land at ADF . The film version of Murmurs, in collaboration with Raquel Salvatella de Prada and Shirin Maleki – originally made for the installation whose eyes i have with my children Leah Sobsey and Adam Sobsey, was juried into the American Dance Festival Movies By Movers Film Festival and Dance Camera Istanbul.
Here in Durham, NC, I feel fortunate to study with Gerri Houlihan, to whom the 2023 American Dance Festival's 90th season is dedicated. In 2018, I became a founding member of Big Red Dance Project-Durham, a multi-generational company that grew out of her Community Dance class at American Dance Festival studios.
Journalism. Radio. Politics. Leadership
Some highlights include founding host of The State of Things on North Carolina Public Radio, co-creator and host of the award-winning radio series Do No Harm, producer - Eiko & Koma documentary - Arts in the Hospital, and creator Talk About Dance!, a series of public discussions with major choreographers and artists performing at ADF and other major producing organizations.
Author, States of Being: Leadership Coaching for Equitable Schools. My writing has appeared in numerous books, newspapers, and publications including the News & Observer, Things My Mother Would Have Told Me If…, a chapbook of poetry and prose, Brighter Leaves: A History of the Arts in the Bull City, and Dear Vaccine – an anthology co-edited by Naomi Shihab Nye.
I'm the founding director of the KIPP Leadership Coaching Program, and architect of States of Being, a leadership coaching model.
Awards and Fellowships
A few highlights: 2022-23 Durham Arts Council Emerging Artists Grant, two Gracie Awards for women in media (2002 & 2007), 2002 Silver Reel Award, 2006 Duke University’s Diversity Award, 2017 Bogliasco Fellowship, Distinguished Writer - ArtAscent Art International Arts Magazine, writer-in-residence at Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities and at Wildacres. 1991 Fellow in the Institute of Political Leadership.
National Louis University, Ed.D. – Educational Leadership. 2014
National Louis University, M.Ed. 2011
Goddard College, BA. 1985
It took a long time to find the right ears, heart, and brilliant mind in a partner. Artist Jim Lee and I have been listening to, sharing stories, and championing each other for the past 23 years or so, and reveling in our six grandchildren. Life is good and I am deeply grateful.
Big Red Dance Project: Photo: Jonathan Markow
My Body Is My Own campaign
Planned Parenthood/Glamour Magazine
Mark Haim's This Land Is Your Land. ADF 2023.
Jim Henderson. Photo from video by Elisabeth Barbier
Double-Crossed with Jim Henderson
Photo from video by Jan Tedder