Sunday, February 28, 2010

pop pop and mount baker

On our walk to the beach today I was struck by the beauty to the north - Mt. Baker was glowing in the golden light of the late afternoon sun. Nature's beauty is often what energizes and inspires my dance practice. Unfortunately, the mountain doesn't show up too well in the film, but a still photo above captures to some extend the evening alpen-glow.

One of my many challenges with dancing daily is to continue to dance freely and to avoid becoming habitual in movement and receptivity of that which surrounds me. I long to, moment by moment, respond anew to that which is present - internally or externally. Dancing with the natural world as a partner can be helpful for that practice because it is always new and ever-changing.

From this location today it was possible to see beyond Mt. Baker to the Golden Ears mountains in Canada, and I could feel my heartstrings being pulled. Feeling nostalgia for my homeland on the closing day of the Olympics, I loved seeing my hometown being shown off and showcased in such an inspiring way. This dance is one of responding to my inner pulls while at the same time to the external sensual experiences of nature around me.
Another of my challenges and joys is that I dance without music accompaniment, and choose the music once I am home editing. It can be a challenge to find music that speaks of the essence of the dance that was done earlier in the day. Today's song is from "Pop Pop" - a jazz album I listened to regularly when I was wanting to be transported into a mellow world. There is also something I love about the lyrics of the song from Peter Pan -

I won't grow up
I don't wanna go to school
Just to learn to be a puppet
And recite a silly rule

If growing up means it would be
Beneath my dignity to climb a tree
I won't grow up, won't grow up, won't grow up
Not me...

I hope to always maintain my childlike playfulness and joie de vivre... In my butoh mentorship with Momo, she has had me dance and move with childlike abandon to return to a feeling of freedom and unselfconsciousness. It is a practice I love but that also challenges.

Not sure if this song fits the dance all that well in its essence... but, what the heck? It makes me smile and I hope it makes you smile, too!

Thank you for viewing / reading this blog. I hope it may inspire you in some way, perhaps to dance freely somewhere in nature where you live...

There is a film in the black space below:
Music: Rickie Lee Jones
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Saturday, February 27, 2010

sugar withdrawal

I would have said that my sugar intake in general was very low. However, at my acupuncture appointment yesterday I was told to not have sugar in any of it's forms for 24 hours... and that meant no fruit. Oh oh.... after 22 hours of no sugar, while walking a couple of miles to our local beach, I began to experience sugar withdrawal - all I could think about was getting home and plunging head first into some form of fruit or another...

It was such a good opportunity to witness my attachment to that which I also take for granted - the ability and the luxury to have whatever food or fruit I desire at any time - usually a few blocks and a grocery store away.
When so many of the world are lacking, I feel grateful for the abundance in my life...

Dusty, sooty city. Busyness
Blue dusk of a winter afternoon...
I look in all the windows
at nothing I want, nothing I require.
No ambition, no complaint.
"Strive and strive," the Master asked,
"What is it that you seek?"
No fear. No need. Happy without desire.
Sam Hamill

It was another rainy day and although I felt inspired to dance freely for my practice today, the weather was creating a limitation - where to dance so the camera would not be harmed by the rain? The driftwood sculpture on the beach provided shelter for Brooke as I danced my inner desire for sugar!

Thank you for viewing / reading this blog. I hope you may feel inspired in some way :~)
There is a film in the black space below:
Music: Lisa Gerrard
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Friday, February 26, 2010

a drop in the eye

I returned from my acupuncture appointment this afternoon feeling energetically drained. I have been receiving treatments for allergy symptoms that usually flare up in January. It was interesting for me to discover I am allergic to trees! I have always been passionately in love with trees and they are everywhere in my world... one of the reasons living in an urban environment is palatable is the fact we live next to 650 acres of wild - trees, fields, beaches, ponds, and wildlife. Many of my dance practices are with trees, but today it was recommended by the therapist to avoid hugging any trees!
Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!
That’s what it said
as it dropped,
smelling of iron,
and vanished
like a dream of the ocean
into the branches
and the grass below.
Mary Oliver

As it was pouring with rain, and both the light and my energy were waning, I decided to do my dance practice outside of a screened window in the house so the camera wouldn't get wet. I love how the unexpected appears in my practices - I began this dance as a celebration of rain and water, and as I looked up into the falling rain, a drop 'hit' me in the eyeball - ouch! Feeling a little spurned, I wanted to connect with 'something' besides the rain, so when I saw our watering can I spontaneously began to interact with it.
There was something joyful and ironic to me in this spontaneous dance - drawn to dance with the watering can while dancing in the midst of a torrential rainfall... with the resulting feeling of uplifted-ment.

Thank you for viewing / reading. I hope this blog may inspire you in some way.
There is a film in the black space below:
Music: Philip Glass
Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Thursday, February 25, 2010

greenly spirits

i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes...
e.e. cummings

Today was one of those days where I was wondering where my daily dance inspiration could possibly come from as not only was the inspiration waning, but so was my energy. A mile or so into our walk, I was struck by a patch of intense green newly sprouting grass under a circle of evergreen cedar trees. The green was intensified by the sun breaking through the clouds and my inspiration was intensified by the sight of the moon behind me...

It is at that point my energy surged as well, resulting in a dance practice connecting to the cedar tree, the softest carpet of green covering this patch of earth, mama earth, the sun and the moon.

As we have done in Momo's workshops, I loved connecting to the senses more deeply in this verdant grove: the textures of the grasses, sweeping cedar, warm sun; the smells of the dirt and everything green; the sound of the swishing cedar limbs; and the sight of green, green, green... but, no tasting of the natural world today... :~)

Thank you for viewing / reading. I hope you are inspired in some way - perhaps to dance and connect with nature on a small patch of earth near you...

There is a film in the black space below:
Music: Ama "Tara"
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's inspiring blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a couple of paintings

"The spirits of the departed have taken refuge in my body... I am who I am thanks to all those who paved the way for me. If I'm to evolve, it will be largely thanks to the help I receive from all those manifold spirits living in me. Their constant companionship along with that of all the other souls in the universe, nurtures my growth as a human being... My creative powers, my knowledge of life, my soul feeds upon their guidance." Kazou Ohno, Maureen 'Momo' Freehill's sensei

On arising this morning in my childhood home I was inspired to dance a quiet dance of connecting to my ancestors. My father's father's presence is easily felt as he was an artist and the house is filled with a dozen of his water colour and oil paintings, all of which are depictions of the natural world except one - an elder who looks out from the frame, endlessly.

In another frame in a hallway is a reprint from a "Stephen's Paint News" publication dated December 1919, entitled "Introducing Our Artist - In the person of Mr. H.A. Atwell... one of the leading illustrators in Canada... His pen and ink technique is delicately fine, or boldly free, as occasion demands..." I like that description as I apply it to my dance practice. The article goes on to describe his disorderly work bench, to which my grandfather replies "Mess! Why that isn't a mess, my boy, that's artistic atmosphere!"

In the corner where I am doing my dance practice this morning there is also a painting of my brother's, a disorderly selection of wooden flutes and a mandolin that my father once played. And so, it is into this corner of the living-room I bring my creative spirit of dance. It is not difficult to feel the connection to my artistic roots here and to tap into that expression and emotion of deep gratitude for those that have gone before me.

Wearing an old straw hat of my dad's from the closet covered in spider-webs with the inner brim oil stained from years of wear, today's practice is also a 'tissue sensei" practice - one that I have done in Momo's workshops and also one we did at a workshop with Yoshito Ohno last year at the International Dance festival in Vancouver. I remember him saying at his workshop that if our mother's were able witness us dancing with the sensitivity we were bringing to our dance with the tissue, they would be moved to tears...
When looking at the film, I was moved by how in this photo below I look unfamiliar to myself - like a spirit being... awed by how lighting can transform the real into a feeling of unreal, or seen into that of spirit...
Feeling grateful for my artistic roots and ancestors this morning...

Thank you for viewing and reading - I hope this blog has in some way inspired you, perhaps to connect in some way to your own ancestors?

There is a film in the black space below:
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

grass , highway, and train

"But mostly, I just stand in the dark field,
in the middle of the world, breathing
in and out. Life so far doesn't have any other name
but breath and light, wind and rain...
I simply go on drifting, in the heaven of the grass
and the weeds."
Mary Oliver

Today's dance practice was en-route to visit my folks in the north country... it is always a challenging time for me as it is hard to witness the aging processes (and lack of processes) of the elderly. Not only do I feel deep compassion for their suffering, but also, it is hard not to look at my own mortality as my parents are mirrors reflecting back my potential destiny as an aged one... and it is always a reminder of the life and death cycles of all living things.

"As we reach a certain point [in our lives], death and life become as one. By examining the cyclical nature of human existence, it becomes clear that life precedes death... I'm standing here, where we all stand, in the midst of life and death, coming and going. Death, life; death, life... they become as one." Kazuo Ohno, my butoh mentor's sensei.

After pulling off the highway for a chai at a coffee house in the Skagit Valley, I was struck by the abandoned grassy field under the grey clouds pregnant with inevitable rain next to the highway. I loved how the grasses represented the natural rhythms of nature... the tall, dried, skeletal summer grasses still somewhat standing as new dew covered green shoots were sprouting through the mud and thick mass of fallen grasses underfoot. Decay and renewal occurring endlessly and simultaneously - a process that takes a full year in keeping with nature's rhythm of slow to medium... and as a backdrop to this, our speed - loud trucks and vehicles zipping by at 70 miles an hour. What took me by surprise was the sudden loud rumble and appearance of a train and it's haunting whistle blowing...
Part way through my practice I noticed the graffiti on the train tunnel behind me that said "Look Up." As I obediently followed the command and looked up, there overhead was an adult bald eagle flying low and then landing on a tree top next to the field... I love these magical connections with nature that occur frequently during my daily practices...
One of many challenges of filming with a tripod is that I never quite know if I am going to be in the picture! As a result, I usually have lots of editing and cutting to do and today I cut out the part where I fell face first into the grass as I was mostly out of the frame at that point... however, it was then that my animal body took over and I started to munch on the tall grasses.

Although it was not planned and felt quite natural to do so, I know that it was a gesture inspired by my mentor Momo, who describes the eating / dancing connection in her blog: "The act of eating something is deeply meaningful when we consider the communion of it. I often feel when dancing that I am ingesting sensation and information from my surroundings and then offering it like food through my dance. When you choose to eat something, that thing literally becomes your flesh." It is also a practice that we have done in Momo's workshops in the natural world. Later in the dance I was inspired once again, to taste the straw as seen in the film, bringing all the senses into the dance with the grasses.
As challenging as my life circumstances are at times, my daily dance practices always give me the opportunity to drop into my body and connect deeply to other, animate and inanimate - here today, in the form of nature's grasses and the man-made loud sounds of the train's whistle and rumble and traffic. All these exchanges through dance result in a feeling of interconnectedness with other and also with that which is greater than myself... This practice also lets me embody through dance my life's challenges as well as celebrations, and I am grateful for that.

Thank you for viewing / reading. I hope this blog may inspire you in some way.
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to crawl on your knees
for hundreds
of miles, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves...
Mary Oliver

There is a film in the black space below:
Music: Brian Eno
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill

Monday, February 22, 2010

beach and branch

Walking to the beach today I was inspired by the calm sea and still air. I longed to connect to the gentle lapping of the waves initially, and then on arising was struck by wavy patterns of small rivulets flowing to the sea. As I traced their flow, I saw a large branch that was a joy to dance with - to stretch and open the body more deeply.
The branch also reminded me of an earlier conversation I had with a friend about how we as a species tend to focus more on the negative in our lives than the positive. That no matter what our circumstances we always find something to complain about...
Initially, it felt like a dance between the stories of our lives we tell and the way things really are. However, as the branch began to feel heavy, it began to remind me of the unnecessary weight of the world I often choose to carry.

I have been trying to open more and more into a place of filling my mind with thoughts of gratitude, compassion and tolerance. As I was reminding my yoga class today - presence (not dwelling in the past or worrying about the future) in our lives is a choice which cultivates contentment - we just have to remember and keep choosing it, breath by breath, moment by moment... just as we do an attitude of gratitude which opens the heart... The words are easy to say, the concept is easy to understand, the living of the words is a challenge for me...

Today, grateful for the big beauty of the blue sky day and the time to dance with other in the form of sand, ocean, branch and space...

Thank you for viewing / reading. I hope this blog is in some way inspiring for you.

The pull is so strong we will not believe
the drawing tide is meant for us,
I mean the gift, the sea,
the place where all the rivers meet...
what would that be like
feeling the tide rise
out of the numbness inside
toward the place to which we go...
the movement of a moment
left completely to itself, to find ourselves adrift,
safe in our unknowing, our very own,
our great tide, our great receiving, the
windless, fiery, unspoken
barely perceived
carrying us all along.
David Whyte

There is a film in the black space below:
Music: Deuter
Filmed by Brooke
Visit my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill