"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