Saturday, April 23, 2011

cultivating beauty

"Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." Mary Oliver

My post from 4/6/10... Driving en-route to the northland today, I wanted to stop once again in the Skagit Valley as at this time of year the tulip festival is at it's height. As I drove along a hillside adjacent to the tulip fields and rounded a bend that gave me my first glimpse of the fields below, I gasped with the beauty below me - bright red and yellow tulips were glowing in the sunlight while overhead there were dark, grey overhanging clouds creating such a dramatic contrasting backdrop to the vibrant colors... I was awed by the beauty of this creation of nature seen en-masse from above.

I was so excited to do my dance practice with the radiance of the tulips, and headed down a dead-end street to where I had some privacy away from the people who crowd into the valley to view the tulips. Unable to enter the field at this particular location as it is private property, I did my practice on the 'outskirts' of the tulips.

I was struck by so many incoming sensations of the sensual body - the sights, the smells, the sounds, the feel of the wind, the sun, and the air temperature... I also felt called to embody the dramatic shapes prevalent here of horizontal lines and vertical axis's as we have done in Momo's workshops in the past.

I loved feeling like a tulip plant when the sun broke through the clouds feeling the warmth of the light and at times I could feel the depth and darkness of the soil and the strength of the tulips breaking through of the soil into the light...
did the rose
ever open its heart
and give to this world all of its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light against its being,
otherwise we all remain too

- Hafiz "Love Poems from God"

As much as this dance felt like a celebration of the beauty of Mama Earth, it also felt somewhat painful to see the cultivation of such beauty. I thought about that which we can see - the flowers and the field were just so 'perfect' but, I couldn't help wonder what about the 'unseen' - the pesticides or fungicides that may have been used to create such beauty that may be seeping into the watertable and leaching into the nearby streams and rivers to the sea nearby...

Years ago, I lived in the Pemberton Valley in BC at the eastern end of the Pemberton River where it joined the Lillooet River. At the head of the valley, at the west end, potato seed farmers have been growing potatoes since the 1940's. It is such a fertile, isolated valley, perfect for seed potatoes, but, in order to keep them disease and pest free, they are not grown organically. I couldn't help wonder about all the farms downstream, including ours, who were trying to grow produce organically - didn't the pesticides get into the water table and then into the river and flow downstream, and then from there, eventually, to the sea???

And so, I thought about how in our quest to produce 'perfect' produce and flowers, what is the result of this kind of pesticide and fungicide use as it seeps into the soil and into the water-table?? A bittersweet dance practice today of love for our Earth and also of forgiveness for how we are mistreating our most precious Mother...

The highlight of this dance today was when I showed my mom, who has dementia and is in a nursing home, this film. She shared with me that when she was in her teens (late 1930's) she danced a modern dance solo on stage wearing a short black dress and bare-feet. She couldn't remember the music, but she said she danced the life of a plant growing from the earth and reaching into the sky, and then receding back down to the earth again - a dance of the life-cycle of plants (and all living things). I had never heard this particular story from her past before and was so happy the viewing of me dancing in the tulips allowed her to recall from her memory that experience. I feel so deeply moved that I am following in her 'dance-steps...'

"We have a beautiful Mother, look around you now... open up your heart and sing your praises for the world... sing praises for the world..." Jennifer Berezan

Thank you so much for viewing, Lee
There is a film in the black space below:
Music: Jennifer Berezan
View our collaborative blog here: Momobutoh Company
View my butoh mentor's beautiful blog here: Maureen 'Momo' Freehill


  1. dear flower child! blessed be the perfectly beautiful dancing mother and her daughter!

  2. thank you, momo... for your kind words and for your inspiration in dance and life XO