Sunday, February 27, 2011

momma bear love

"Anyway, what's the purpose of our being here? Ultimately, aren't we here to link hearts?"
Kazuo Ohno - Maureen Freehill's sensei

One of the many things I learned from dancing daily for YearOfButoh in 2009, was that the dance practices that were most meaningful for me were the ones in which I was able to express something that I felt strongly about. On the days I was not inspired to dance, I danced anyway - not caring so much about what my dances looked like as I was committed to my daily practice, regardless. The intention was to dance as freely and spontaneously as I could wherever I found myself in life.
Although the experience of this most recent dance practice held much emotional depth for me, the film itself didn't feel like it reflected my inner feelings... part of this had to do with the awareness that, at any moment, one of the nurses might enter into my Mom's room in the nursing home unexpectedly :~) Not to mention how on the film I am cutoff at the neck for most of it, too... oh well... i am trying, and greatly challenged, to let go of my need to create things that have a certain aesthetic...
When I first arrived to my Mom's room, I couldn't help but notice the pink paper heart that was taped to her closet above her head as we were chatting. It was probably put there by her grand-daughter months ago. In keeping with our theme for this month, 'Love and Family,' it felt appropriate to dance with the feelings I was experiencing in her room.
I was initially drawn to the teddy bear collection on her dresser. She wasn't sure where they came from, although I knew that friends and family had given them to her as gifts over the years that she has resided there.
I was remembering how bear cubs are born within the darkness of a den in the depths of winter where they are nursed and nourished by their Mommas and then when spring comes, they exit. I was also remembering how Momma bears are one of the most ferocious mammals when it comes to protecting their cubs...
Feeling much love, as well as melancholy, for my Mom on this visit (I never know if it will be the last time that I will see her), I was inspired to take my inner feeling tone of connection to her as well as what Momma bears symbolize, and dance spontaneously...
My Mom asked at one point where the turquoise hat on the end of her bed came from. I didn't have the heart to tell her it wasn't a hat at all, but, a folded blanket... and so I danced it as 'hat.'
Today, dancing with the bears, my Mom's purple straw hat (that was her favorite sun hat that she hasn't worn in years as she rarely leaves her nursing home due to her disabilities), the blanket, and the love I feel for her.
Grateful to be sharing my dance practices with you here as I gain so much inspiration from you all... Lee
Music: Aiko Shimada

Looking Back to Love

The past is like a dream...amazing how with photos & video records we can travel back to re-experience past as NOW. I have held these image relics, memories of past loves from our MomoButoh theme for Feb 2011. For months they awaited their time to be consumed as food for the eyes, heart and mind. Perhaps they have been fermenting or ripening like the apple cider vinegar & sauerkraut I have been making a lot of recently. It is a way of culture. Perhaps this time allows a more cultured perspective on these love dances, allowing their more complete digestion and assimilation. Or maybe it is just a way of nostalgia to look back with adoration. Please watch and see if it feels like NOW or THEN... or as if in a dream to you.
One thing for sure...the baby who was in Nala Walla's womb THEN has NOW emerged through a powerful rite of breach home birth passage and is a beautiful little boy named Montana! That is certainly a blessed dream come true. Soon I will be sharing a bunch more about Nala and her consultations in EcoSomatics, Somatic Job Site & Team building that we will be integrating when collaboratively crafting the new 11-sided MomoButoh Dance & Retreat Center...yet another dream-come-true in the making.
If you are interested in participating in this summer residential life/work/dance internship on the land, please contact me soon to apply. We are now accepting applications and expect the 6 positions to fill quickly.
For now, let's peer into the dreamy past and witness "Blessing Way Love for Nala Walla" film here:

Earlier that day, I was dancing in a rapture with the WIND on the ferry toward Port Townsend. This is the video memory of ThaT dance SO Long aGO:
"So Long Wind" to music by Davendra...
For the love of it, I have now moved to a new home on the land where we will be doing butoh & building training. This video was from one of the last days spent in my beloved apartment where I enjoyed hanging from the rafters. It is a dance of remembering self-love by dancing & asking the questions: "How can I love myself more? How can I be even MORE loving?" E11even is everlovin' number ONE!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

clown love

Last week I completed the Clown through Mask workshop with Sue Morrison, and in the process, I've fallen in love. I've always felt the deep connections made possible through movement in my own private practice, but now I'm in love with sharing love--exposing my own vulnerability-- with an audience.

This new love is a huge leap for me. The stage has always frightened me, literally choking me into terror-filled silence. And though the thought of sharing my bare naked soul on a stage in front of strangers still makes me wheeze, I'm thrilled by the possibilities clowning opens for profound human connection. As a newborn baby clown I'm now able to take a glimpse of what it is to share a deep dialogue with others through performance.

During the course of our five-week workshop Sue tough-lovingly guided me (and 13 other baby clowns) in creating six masks representing the six directions. Through a process developed by Sue's teacher, the late Richard Pochinko, we explored two sides of each of the six masks: one of experience and the other innocence. The work included movement, color, games, paint, and imaging. Each mask revealed its own mythology and personality, its own neuroses, its own wisdom. With each mask I learned to release secrets I didn't even know I was keeping.

Through work with the masks I'm learning to claim space. I'm learning that a mask does not hide. A mask reveals. I'm learning in performance to create a story in conversation with others. I'm learning to stand strong with a wide open heart. I'm growing impatient with old habits and anything that keeps my actions small, superficial, artificial or pretentious. I'm learning how powerful naked vulnerability can be.
I'm learning to share my love.

I hope to work with the wisdom of clown in my dance practice. I am calling on the masks to inform my movement, and to dance with me. I'm also very curious about the connection and overlap of butoh and clown. How might I dance as a clown? How might I clown in dance? What might the masks reveal if allowed to come through in the dance? Who else is working with clown in butoh and butoh in clown? There's much love to explore.

I feel deep appreciation to my teachers Sue Morrison and Maureen Freehill and all the dancers and clowns in my life. And thanks to Dexter who shot the video. My heart is open and full of love.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Preparing for Baby Vargas, I draw.

Visualizing Baby Vargas ...
while sitting in the stone area; speaking to my very pregnant daughter; preparing for the birth in april;
I draw.

in the picture, I see, I write:
Spiraling votex; light surrounded; upside-down heart shaped; his colors are green and brown; curled up.
I am movement flowing in water, under a white veil, reaching towards you.
Your grandmother, Nana.

Dances with wood sculpture

Choosing a Significant Other: I chose the Wood Sculpture Momo brought home from the WilderDance Retreat last year. My aesthetic response was to leave the house ... it must have been in the 70's !!!?? yesterday Feb ? no way you say?
I went to the rocks where a juniper tree grows big. "David's Tree" is very strong and thick and solid and fibrously hairy. It was so warm I feel asleep craddled by the "spine of the dragon" rock outcropping.
when I returned home my sculpture was waiting to be with me; it was smooth, soft, fragile, twisty, holey, spirally thin. Here are photos of me and my significant other.

After dancing (aesthetically responding) with my wood sculpture I drew this picture ... called a PKIP ... a Pyscho Kinetic Imagery Process ... where the drawing lead me to deeper material in this experience. I saw/noticed in the process of drawing various words and wrote:

As fragile as a baby ...
I carry, lift, hang, swing, turn, spiral, Love, cry sad, peek thru, hold close ...

Horizontal ...... Vertical
spiral on floor .....spin up high
curling up fetal .... legs open like a baby being diapered,
I saw more "stuff" on the right side of my body.

Drawing my dances and dancing my drawings integrates what I might be going thru in my life.
It brings my art into my life as well as my life into my art.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tough LOVE in the Gravel

Creative co11aboration is one of my favorite and most beloved activities. My entire being feels stimulated, nourished and enlivened when a juicy artful exchange is happening! It is a form of lovemaking that I will allow time for whenever I can, especially with other artists who I admire. Photographer Rex Hohlbein is one of those special co-creators that I feel very lucky to have met and grateful to work with for the past year. Even with a super full work schedule, he will drop it for a creative "date" when I have time to come over to Seattle. Sometimes we have a plan of where to go, others not.

This time, since our MomoButoh "theme" for February is Love & Family; I said I was "looking for LOVE" and places that would inspire it in the dance and imagery. He said he had a place that really excited him in mind. Since he was pressed for time and it was only a block from the office, we should check it out. Turns out this "special place" is an industrial site for storing and distributing gravel, asphalt and other products of what I tend to call "earth rape." When we arrived a HUGE truck was sounding an alarm as it dumped the stuff into a holding area; creating a great dust cloud as another machine pounded bits of stone into submission. I stood in a daze, pained at the sensual assault of it all. Hmmm? I just was not feeling much very "in the mood."

Suddenly he realized he had forgotten his photo memory card and had to run back for it. As he was gone I has some time to contemplate and let the dust settle. The rare February sun was beaming down and my initial resistance melted a bit at that. Then I was reminded of my teacher Yoshito Ohno's lessons about soft and hard....the intercourse between those two can be a beautiful dance where life itself is created. I was thinking of the essences of butoh practice that were so essential. I remembered a dance of the flower growing through the crack in the cement. Phrases I had heard so often in the "butoh world" like: "places in between," "the revolt of the flesh," and "a body at the edge of crisis" flowed through my head....I was beginning to feel my love for the EDGE rekindle and smolder a bit. I wanted to challenge myself by exploring how to hold my heart open and keep love alive even in the most seemingly brutal of situations. I wanted to explore BOTH the dark & light sides of love.

Rex came rushing back and I had removed a bunch of clothing and put on a shirt to shroud my head. I realized I needed a Significant Other, a softer little sign of life to hold as a companion in this dance. I really wanted a flower but the closest thing we could find was a sprig of foliage from the landscaping and we began to dance. I lost myself in the experience of dancing at the foot of the gravel mountain until Rex asked if we could head over to the black shadowy cement pit of asphalt. There among the sticky black goo (I could not do it without shoes) noxious fumes and cold shadows; I danced with as much loving as I could muster; often loosing motivation as he cheered me on with "this is SO beautiful"-but I could not see it.

After we were done I was anxious to see the pics because I was so curious what they would reveal. Rex said he was very busy so it could be a while before he could get to it. Later that night I was perusing Facebook and there they were! I was stunned. It is funny how, even though I do SO MUCH public sharing of my image, and I know perfectly well how fast digital information can move from here to there; I still can feel shy and protective about revealing it. Perhaps I had opened up something vulnerable and intimate in that gravel. When this was revealed before I felt "control," my ego had a knee jerk reaction and I wrote a somewhat upset note to Rex about being sure to show me first. Then he was a bit shocked by my concern but also understanding and kindly deleted the pics and sent copies to me to share in my own timing. Now I see how silly this is in a way....and how essential too. A true love lesson, as are so many lessons in life....and these would not be possible without my collaborative "family" of fellow artists. I feel so grateful for you!

Thank you. Please Forgive Me. I'm Sorry. I Love You.

I love these photos really. I love the shadows, the contrasts, the range of emotions evoked. I love Rex. I love collaborating. I love the sun. I love the earth. I love all living beings. I love my job.
I want to know what YOU see in these images.

sand love catharsis

"Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair." Kahlil Gibran

The theme for Momobutoh Company's practice is 'Love and Family' this month and so today I felt inspired to dance with the heaviness of care-taking for my dad...

As my dad approaches his end-of-life, he has become more and more loving and open-hearted. As his body and mind close down and degenerate, his heart continues to open outward to his family in an expansive way. As a result, our hearts are opening more and more to him, as well - it is a beautiful exchange.

The burden is a result of all the the challenges there are in trying to manage his house and his care-givers while at the same time, trying to stay strong and be the pillar that is able to take care of his increased personal-care needs. It feels like during much of the last few years I have been emotionally drained by this responsibility and I continue to quest for ways in-which to nourish the feeling of depletion in my spirit.

My dance practice as taught by Momo has been very cathartic... a way to embody that which is being experienced from the depths...

Coming out onto the beach on this cold, blustery day I was drawn to do a spontaneous dance with a large branch whose heaviness felt like a good analogy for the burden I have been feeling... and yet, it was light enough to maneuver, to trace patterns in the sand (including a heart around my beloved :~)... The dance of embodiment of burden resulted in a feeling of release and increased lightness of spirit as the dance continued.

Dancing on sand is also one of my favorite practices as I love how it is so forgiving and always invites a playful freedom of movement... and a baring of the feet :~) Feeling grateful to connect more deeply to the grounding presence of Mama Earth during this practice.

Also feeling grateful to share my dance practices with you all here, and to you, Momo, for inspiring our connection and practices....
Music: Deuter
Filmed by Brooke (my beloved :~)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Tent City: Dancing on Edge

Tent City Residents rest & read in rain.

Main Security Gard Cynthia on duty and in her tent "Cyn's Den"
Craig & Sandy Mitchell's happy "Personal" tent.

Seattle poet AK Mimi Allin became a "self-designated" artist in residence at Tent City last November. See her excellent blog about it here: From what I gathered, she committed to live and work for 2-3 months at Tent City's current location in Lake City area. I was very interested to connect with her, find out more about the experience the lifeSTYLE at this unique place. I invited photographer Rex Hohlbein to join me because he has an ongoing project of photographing Seattle's homeless people already under way.
We arrived and introduced ourselves as looking for Mimi. She was not there but we were invited to leave her a note. Everyone was initially kind and smiling but I also felt underlying tension, worry and concern. This more clearly unfolded as we remained to get acquainted for the next few hours. We were told that if Mimi did not return by X-hour today, she could loose her tent space. And, that her space was a special exception because all women were supposed to stay in the group tent for X-days before getting the privilege of a personal tent. There seemed to be some disagreement about whether her case as "artist-in-residence" was "fair." We asked permission to take some photos (only with permission for each one), look around (only with security escort guiding us), and dance (only in designated specific area).

This is a dwelling place for homeless people who "qualify." I say that because they run quite a tight ship here so it is not for the feint of energy or commitment. Tent dwellers must "check in" at least once every 3 days
lest they loose their space/home again. There are strict rules of conduct such as:
No letting the honey bucket doors slam
No profanity
No loitering
No littering
No smoking in the neighborhood
No smoking in your tent
No open flames
No parking within two blocks of camp
No pick-ups or drop-offs at camp
No spitting
No alcohol
No drugs
No walking in the planters
No eating in the kitchen tent
No going anywhere near the host church
No contact with the shelter in the church basement
No going into the
donations tent after hours
No going into the pantry
No extra blankets
No hoarding clothing
No trespassing
No men in women's tents
No women in men's tents
No anyone in anyone's tent (except your own)
No threats
No violence
No degrading ethnic or homophobic remarks
No missing a meeting
You must disinfect your hands before entering the kitchen tent
You must post a name on your tent
Smoking in designated areas only
(From AK mimi allin's blog
All of these can also lead to loss of one's space if there are
enough "infractions." I imagine how tough it is already and then the added rules must make it really tough just to survive here....or anywhere. Everyone we spoke with was kind and forthright in answering our questions and had a pretty serious health problem that seemed to be the main "reason" they were here. I highly recommend you read AK mimi allin's excellent blog article about her life/artist residency here. It is very informative. I feel we all should know about how this lifestyle "works" and how close it is to home.

music: Antony & The Johnsons "Another World"
Since this was part of the MomoButoh explorations in The STYLES, Rex and I were here to immerse and respond aesthetically through camera lens & dancing body. They only allowed me to dance in a limited space in front of the Port-O-Pottys where every move could be scrutinized as acceptable or not by the security guard on duty. This was the most careful and attentive audience I can every remember having. My dance felt like riding an ambiguous edge with fear of doing something wrong at any moment, rebellious teasing on the edge of acceptability, edgy anger at the limitations on freedom, heartfelt pain and compassion at seeing the hard conditions and suffering of my fellow humans. Along with that was a profound respect and awe with those who chose to make this work for them; the sense of humor they shared and the pride they had with their jobs and their tents. We were welcomed to view inside two of them--which may have broken the rules--in a way that was more generous than I have felt in any other home place I come to visit unannounced. Along with this, I felt a surrendered acceptance to lighten the load of it all and such gratitude for the privilege of being free to go back to a warm safe home after this visit.

Photos by Rex Hohlbein.

Lynn Mizono: A Life of Fine & Fun Design

Meeting Lynn Mizono was like entering an exquisite new and paradoxical world that I was somehow already familiar with in my DREAMS. Ms. Mizono IS the essence of all the finest art and design I experienced while living in Japan cultivated in a west coast USA context; all the while being a totally unique creatrix unto herself. While being tastefully refined and even formal; everything she devises also contains a playful smile of whimsey and humor. All in all it is difficult to contain in words and must be experienced. Her ART of daily life is consistent and connected to her essence even in the most deep & intimate areas of space behind the bed, inside the bath and closets. A short list of some most remarkable parts of her decor include poetry etched in the glass of the front door, unmarked bottles of multi-colored liquids, puppets hanging over the bed and life sized metal mesh bodies floating over the living room; a bathroom sink that colorfully responds to voices, a posing kitty, the most orderly closet & studio full of mysterious art-garments that I have ever seen, stairs that change colors and a see-thru second floor landing to name just a few. Her delicacy, simplicity, specificity to every tiniest detail, luxurious economy and whimsey all inspired my butoh dance to have a similar essence.

TRY THIS: Take time to be with and examine your own lifestyle & design choices. How are they consistent with your essence/soul or not? How can you align your creativity and action choices more congruently with your essence and soul? (this film has a little edit glitch that I am fixing now...pretty sure you will enjoy watching it anyway)

I share these images & film to offer a taste of how I was touched, moved, nourished, entertained and changed by our collaboration. The time here was particularly striking because Lynn's home is nearly the polar opposite of the brilliant colors and small space packed with decorative items that I had just experienced earlier that day at Victoria's place. (Victoria & Lynn are very close friends). Lynn and & I had so much fun during this 2 hour spontaneous exploration wherein I entered her home, interviewed her, put on her clothes & danced in her space. We hope to co-create a good deal more together in the near future.