Friday, December 31, 2010

water break / down

“Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Water is fluid, soft, and yielding. But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield. As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard. This is another paradox: what is soft is strong."
Lao Tzu

A few weeks ago I spent several days care-taking my elderly father during which time the weather was chilly and filled with hours of endless heavy rainfall. As we were also approaching the winter solstice, the short hours of daylight also felt as though they were reflecting the heaviness of my spirit...

After driving through torrential rain on the way home, there was a break in the clouds while I was passing through the verdant Skagit Valley. The surrounding clouds were dark, heavy and pregnant with rain but it was sprinkling only lightly. I felt it was ironic that although I was planning to do a dance exploration of water as it was so abundant lately (Momobutoh Company has been working with dancing with the elements this past month), I chose to dance a spontaneous dance under a trestle bridge, out of the rain and the direct connection with water where I could set up the camera...

The support structure of the bridge overhead not only provided shelter from the storm but also seemed to reflect my inner feeling tone, of the need to be 'strong' to handle the challenges of caring for an elderly parent...
I was reminded through this dance of the importance of having a solid frame, but more importantly, connecting to a fluid inner-core... Feeling grateful for water... feeling grateful for a dance practice that enables an exploration of both the inner and outer landscapes... the strong and the soft, the light, the dark, the light, the heaviness...

Thank you for viewing this blog - I hope it may inspire you in some way to dance your own soul-full dance...

Music: Satowa
View our collaborative butoh dance blog inspired by Maureen 'Momo' Freehill here: MomoButoh Company

Sunday, December 12, 2010

"In Search of Sacred Bliss"

"Salmon Coming Home in Search of Sacred Bliss." (excerpts)

Weaving the waves together, the salmon
Dance in small, joyful jumps
Scales shine a bright silver.
Riding the rhythm of the breaking waves...
As salmon go home to their mother, the river,
The river goes home to its mother, the mountain
And in the home mountains
Reside the wisdom and teachings of the ancestors.
The rivers that flow there,
The mother's milk of mother earth,
Take from the mountain dwelling ancients
Full measure of nurture
To nourish the salmon.
The single act of love
Risks all.
The salmon die
Ahh, so tenderly.
So fiercely flames their passion,
they love each other to death...

Mieko Chikappu
I first met Momo 2 years ago on November 11th after feeling the call of her invite to dance with the salmon at Oyster Creek. I was new to both dance and butoh, and was so deeply moved to be able to join her and Evan in an expression of so much wild and soulful expression, while honoring the salmon and the life-cycles of all living beings.
I was touched by Momo's ability to inspire such meaningful, soulful, dance expression and was consequently hooked by butoh.
While dancing and filming daily for 'Year of Butoh' in 2009 (created by Momo), honoring Kazuo Ohno and 50 years of butoh, I appreciated so much the daily connections with other. The majority of my dances were human-solo, which gave me the opportunity to dance with other-beings - the wind, trees, the earth, the waves, eagles, sea otters, rivers, mountains...
Photo by: Susan Elizabeth Cowperthwaite

Never have I felt more connected to 'other' in such a soulful way than when I was dancing and exploring the idea of separation and connection between self and other... and in these exchanges, I would also long to be as nature, to tune more deeply into the inner instinctual self and be more in sync with the natural rhythms of nature...
Momo's sensei, Kazuo Ohno wrote, in regards to butoh, "not thinking, only soul," and that is what I too, longed for in my dances in and with nature... Inspired by not only the animals that live moment to moment, but also, plants, trees, flowers - growing, blossoming, fading...
I love how the poet Mary Oliver speaks of how the other kingdoms of life, unlike the human species, have "an infallible sense of what their lives are meant to be. Thus, the world grows rich, grows wild, and you too, grow rich, grow sweetly wild, as you too were born to be."

Several years ago, my 99 yearold yoga therapist said that one should live their life like a fish swimming in water, in peace and harmony with all that that surrounds, flowing with nature's rhythm and allowing life to unfold with the most ease as possible... In my yoga practice, and within many spiritual traditions, there are beautiful ways of describing our interconnectedness with other beings that we share Mama Earth with. However, what I appreciate so much about butoh, as Momo teaches it, is the opportunity to feel that connection with other by embodying the spirit of other.
Photo by Susan Elizabeth Cowperthwaite

In this practice, it also feels like there is a direct experience of the instinctual self as well as the potential of an expression of not only my own soul, but that of others as well. Appreciating so much the idea of not having the dance look like anything in particular, letting go of the idea of 'good' or 'bad' is very freeing...

"You do not have to be good... You only have to let the soft animal of your body loves what it loves..." Mary Oliver
Dancing with Momo and company on 11 11 this year was so powerful as I loved the opportunity to connect with the human-other (dancers and musicians) that arrived from all around the country and Canada, with a common aim - of honoring and celebrating the life of the salmon and all other beings. Feeling grateful that we, like the salmon, have come together from near and far to this sacred spot, to be reminded of the cycles of life that we and all living beings share - the fragility and preciousness of life..... Honored to be a part of this dance ritual - a prayer dance for the continued well-being of the salmon in this creek and also beyond - throughout the Pacific North West.
Particularly moving to me was witnessing the varying stages of end of life of the salmon - so amazing to me that after the salmon release their eggs, they begin to decay. It is so stirring to the soul to witness these cycles amongst so many salmon side by side - the healthy looking salmon on their way up the river passing partially and fully decomposed and dead bodies of others all around them... the beginning of new life and the end of life so near to one another... When we witness the end of life in other beings, how can it not fill us with such an appreciation for the exquisite and preciousness of life?
Grateful to to all that shared this dance and for Momo's creative vision and generous heart to create a dance to ensure the well-being of the salmon...
Thank you for viewing my blog... It means a lot to me... I hope it may inspire you to dance from your soul in the beauty of our natural world,
Photos by Brooke and Susan

See our collaborative blog here: MomoButoh Company