When I first began my butoh mentorship sessions just over a year ago with Momo she recommended I acquire a book from her sensei, Kazuo Ohno, entitled "Kazuo Ohno's World from Without and Within." After receiving it, I took it with me to Mexico where I was immediately engrossed within his world for over 2 weeks. The first half tells of Kazuo Ohno's life and the second half includes many quotes from workshops and classes he taught over the years.
As Kazuo Ohno is now 103 years old, I feel very honored to be studying butoh with one of his students. So often when Momo dances or describes butoh I can see and feel her teacher's presence emanating from and through her.
Today's dance practice was a performance practice for her upcoming - "Daily Dances - A Year of Butoh Retrospective," in which I am honored to be dancing a couple of dances we shared last year. In the flyer for the performance, Momo describes butoh: "It is a practice, an art, and a way of life in which to engage, offer to community, and through which to blossom. It is not a technique or set of moves, style or steps that can be mastered. Much as words like “life,” “god,” or “zen,” the practice of “butoh” is nearly incapable of being defined. Like a flower, it is always emerging in each moment. It is life, death and all that is in between. Butoh is the soul as it is revealed authentically through the flesh."
I have never performed butoh on stage before but, I am very excited to be a part of the retrospective. We spent the afternoon going over the logistics of the evening and then had an opportunity to practice a dance we shared when she returned from Japan last year. My challenge is dancing with other in the form of another human-being! So many of my daily dance practices last year were with other beings from nature - the wind, the rain, trees, etc. and all were spontaneous.
I appreciate Momo's patience today as we figured out the best way for me to lift and lower her from a stool - all the while maintaining an effortless quality and an essence of strength. The dance will be somewhat choreographed to co-ordinate with the completely spontaneous dance we did last year in the park with the elements, a flag pole, a toy windmill, and the kimono gift I had just received.
My challenge will be to stay present in my body, maintain a soft but open gaze, keep my central axis elongated, and feel from the inside the essence of honor I was feeling to receive a kimono as a gift, and also, to carry the magnificence of the external beauty - the clouds, the sky, the sun-breaks and the wind... within me.
Thank you for reading / viewing this blog. May you feel inspired in some way...
"To dance onstage is to put one's life on the line. Even I become desperate whenever I step out there: the first, the second, the third step are simply hopeless, and yet that moment will come after the third, the first, the fifth step when I slip into a timeless realm. I know it's impossible that your every moment be imbued with that feeling. As you let go of yourself, you'll carry us all to the sun and the moon; you'll convey to us an eternity with every step you take. And oh, how deeply touching it is to come face to face with the moon. You've got to convey eternity in every second." Kazuo Ohno from "Kazuo Ohno's World from Without and Within."
There is a film in the black space below :~)
See my Momo's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill