Since IONA is currently debuting their newest performance, The Living Earth (last days June 11 and 12) I thought it a great time to revisit Cheryl Flaherty’s reading appetite. I’ve reprinted the full interview for the first time, below.

What I’m Reading | Cheryl Flaharty
Creative Director, Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre

Q&A with Christine Thomas
Edited version published 9.08 in the Honolulu Advertiser

Q. What are you reading?

A. Right now I’m almost finished reading Eckhart Tolle’s “A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose.” This is his newest book that Oprah featured with an online class, which I have not been involved in but I am aware of it.

Q. How did you discover it?

A. That’s how I found out about it. It was so amazing for us to find out that Oprah was featuring a very new age, consciousness-driven book to such masses. I think it’s the first time there’s been a worldwide online discussion about something that has to do with consciousness-raising.

Q. Is this typical of the books you read and how you find them?

A. No, sometimes I just go to the bookstores and use my intuition. I definitely judge a book by its cover and have found some amazing books that way just lying off to the side. I work intuitively as an artist and also choose my books this way. I also did read his other book “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment,” so his work is definitely of interest to me. I also like the title of this book because it relates to my work. It’s perfect timing because I’m focusing the marketing of the company to reflect the messages contained in my work, which have a lot to do with consciousness, humanity and the environment, and it ended up being more perfect than I ever imagined.

Q. How does it connect to your work?

A. Well, I’m a little bit of a self-taught butoh artist and I really merged my butoh training with my new-age awareness into something that I think is very unique. So I’ve been teaching all of these principles of consciousness development and witness, and diminishing of the ego and non-judgment—and that’s exactly what this book is about. He’s been really able to clarify what I know well in a different language, so it allows me to be reflective on my work and also validates my work. So those are the two things. I’m heavy with the highlighter in this book—so it’s a little life-changing for me.

Q. Does Tolle’s book give you a new language to use as you begin bringing Iona performances to other parts of the world?

A. Number one, I think it does help support my language in my teaching and my work with the dancers, because it validates a lot of things I’ve been talking about for years by had no basis for. Number two, it really tells me that the world is finally ready for my work. A lot of the time I’ve been ahead of the wave in a way, and been afraid to write the word consciousness in a grant proposal for instance. That this book was such a hit and featured by Oprah it tells me that the world is interested in what Ive been doing for years. We’re just starting a new 3-year marketing program to market Iona outside Hawai’i. And the biggest thing we can offer is the spirituality in our work. There’s a lot of personal gain to his book, too. It really tries to get you to understand the power of the present moment and the diminishment of the ego—that the ego doesn’t exist in this present moment. It’s very anti-goal, anti-success orientated. So for me on a personal level it helps me to be able to experience that even stronger in my world and my daily life.

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