Toronto’s “The Move” collective gets it right

July 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment

It’s Friday morning .

I’m already counting down the hours.Tonight I’ll hop on my bike, ride over to Dovercourt House, climb to the second floor, flash my membership card, pay my dues, take off my shoes, and enter the space where I can be most myself: at the weekly dance event called “The Move.”

The formula for the Move seems simple: No talk, no shoes, no step-by-step instruction, no strings attached, no alcohol, no chit chat, no phones, no internet,  no expected form or technique, just an oddball mix of music with an eclectic group of dancers for two solid hours.

At The Move I’ve done it all: I’ve crawled and squirmed; I’ve waltzed and tangoed.  I’ve mourned and giggled: I’ve prayed and pouted. I’ve taken risks, ridden roller coasters, I’ve dived in deep. I’ve flirted and  fallen in and out and in love a thousand times. I don’t feel like I have to hold back at The Move. With all the other weirdos and wild things who attend, I know I can be as weird and wild as I want to be. Without words I can speak my truth.  It’s the only public place in my life where I feel that free.

And so, I just want to say to The Move and all its dancers: thank you. I can’t wait to see you in just a few short hours.

On a side note: I almost don’t want you to read all this about The Move because if you do, you might go. And if you and 90 or so other people get in line before me, the organizers might close the doors and I might not be able to get in.(This happened to me once. I’ll never be late again!)

Another side note: Wouldn’t it be great if The Move added a second night?  Keeping my fingers crossed that the growing pains won’t hurt too much.


My brother and I celebrated the change of seasons and Holy Saturday by scrambling around the cemetery in a new tradition we call parkour de mort. This year’s ritual involved intense intervals of hill climbing,  a visit to the the graves of Mom and Howard and Grandma and Dad and Cindy, decorating the family grave site with Mardi Gras beads, and performing a few discrete and respectful backflips over an occasional headstone.

Speaking of family and spring and ritual, here’s how my ancestors may have celebrated the change of seasons in the old country.

Though I’ve never experienced this celebration first hand, these old dances feel familiar. I love the moves, especially the shimmy they do with girls they steal from the audience. And the costumes look a bit like something my niece and her Open Heart Creatures might have created. What a lovely way to share the liberation that spring can bring!

dancing with the dead

Posted: February 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

In Cherry Blossoms, one of my favorite dance films, a young Japanese dancer says to a grieving widower:  “Anybody can dance butoh. The young can dance butoh. The old can dance butoh. The living, the dead. Anybody can dance butoh.”

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been visited by no less than four (probably more) images of dead loved ones.  I shouldn’t be surprised, since I’ve been busy sharing my dreams with a partner from the Momobutoh Dance Company.  As partners, Alissa and I share dream images, and then paint and draw and write and dance with these images. This kind of intense dream work brings up unexpected memories and visions and stories.

Early in our sharing, Alissa and I discovered that both of us lost sisters. Alissa shared a beautiful letter with me from her sister. From this, I painted images.  Using those images, I danced inspired by  lines, colors, and images from the paintings.

When dancing the paintings about Alissa’s sister, I felt very close to Cindy.

I have to admit, though, that I was feeling a little jealous not to have a letter from my sister, too. The next time I checked my email, my brother had sent these pictures from what seems like a dreamy long time ago.

This morning, shortly after my dance, I had two dreams. The first was really nasty and disgusting and involved my mother who had passed. (you don’t want to know) The second included my very vibrant and happy Grandmother who hugged me for a long long time.  I can still feel the starched cotton dress on my cheek.

Writing about spirituality is tough. Writing about dance is tougher. A few years ago when I first started this project, I thought I might help myself to make sense of all that I was feeling and thinking by creating mind maps. In retrospect, I’m not sure that “making sense” is what these mind maps did for me. Still, it’s a joy to find these again. They’re like a gift from a former self.

Here are a few vintage maps from my voyage into dance, circa 2009.

In the heat of midsummer, Heidi Kambitsch brought her wild Openheart Creatures to town. How liberating it was to wear her body puppets and to sing and dance and play! I remember those days now, in the cold and dark of winter, like recalling a dream. Thank you for sending these Heidi!

Here we are in Kensington Market, claiming sanctuary for her wild creatures.

And here we are spreading our wild wings and singing our hearts out in the heart of Toronto’s west side hispsterville.

Wild things thrive in sanctuary. And where there is no sanctuary, we can create it. Feel free to sing along.

October 15 and 16    7 Fraser Ave, Studio 12    Butoh workshop and performance with Maureen Freehill  part of Your Life Your Story Your Dance: An Embodied Arts Series

What is butoh, and who is Momo? Read an interview with Maureen Freehill about Butoh here.

Your life is a creation.

You tell the story.

You are the hero. 

The story is up to you.

In this workshop, we honour your life as a hero’s journey with visual art, written and spoken word, movement, and dance.

We will explore life’s big questions:

Where did I come from and where am I going?

What are my current gifts and challenges?

How do these gifts and challenges occur in my

  • body
  • mind
  • heart and emotions
  • spirit

For what am I willing to take a stand? For what am I willing to sacrifice my life?

With these questions in mind, we will be guided through a cyclical process of visual art (painting and drawing), writing, dialogue, and movement.

Visual art will inspire writing and dialogue. The dialogue will inspire a written “score” or plan for a dance. The dance will inspire further visual art, and thus, the cycle continues. As we create these multi-layered self portraits, we will explore the relationship between body, feeling, and imagination as we cycle through movement, drawing, and dialogue throughout the day. As a result each of us will create a richly textured, multifaceted self-portrait including visual art, writing, and dance.

Maureen Freehill will also share how she uses this creative process cycle for her dance piece, “Hitobashira,” which she continues to create as a living work.

Participants of the October 15th workshop will be invited to perform their work together on Sunday, October 16 at 7 pm at 7 Fraser, Studio 12. (Performing optional.) Participants who chose to perform should be available for rehearsal on Sunday afternoon between 1 and 4 pm.

Dance or yoga attire is suitable. Bring journals, writing implements, water bottles. Light vegetarian lunch is provided.

This dance is for any BODY. Novices and experts and anyone in between: all are welcome.

For registration contact Patricia @ playthink . com
$90-105 sliding scale


Read more about Your Life Your Story Your Dance workshops on Oct. 8 here.

Embodied Arts Series Coming to Toronto this October

Come join us for an exploration and inquiry through movement.

  • Workshop, Saturday, October 8, 10 am -5 pm: “Your Life, Your Story, Your Dance” With Gennie Brukner, Henry Wai, Patricia Kambitsch and Vivek Patel. A Day of art making, dance making and life focusing through Authentic Movement, Contact Improvisation Dance, martial arts (Ninjitsu) and visual arts. We’ll ask the big questions: Who am I being in this body, in my relationships, in the world? What’s holding me back? For what am I willing to give my life? How might I move through my life with  presence, attention, and intention? $90-105  for the day. $75-90 for early registration (before Sept 24). Located in Toronto at the Lower Ossington Theatre, Light vegetarian lunch included.  Register with Patricia @ or directly at
  • Workshop, Saturday, October 15, 10 am – 4 pm: “Your Creation Story” a day of butoh, dance making, storytelling, creative writing, and visual art  At “What Next” 7-12 Fraser Ave.   With Maureen “MomoButoh” Freehilland Patricia Kambitsch. This workshop will enhance any performance, creative, healing and artistic practice by exercising imagination and increasing energy flow to reveal hidden gifts of the soul through the body. We will cultivate capacity for freedom of movement, powerful presence and transformation.  We will create a visual “score” for  movement  based on our individual stories of creation. The score, a work of visual art and creative writing in its own right, will guide the dance. The dance, in turn, will inform the visual and written pieces. Second day rehearsal and performance option: Members of the  Oct. 15 workshop will be invited to participate in performance and second day of workshop rehearsal on October 16. (For those choosing to continue on Sunday, this extends the workshop as a two-day experience, and quite a deal!) Light vegetarian lunch included. $90-105  for the day. $75-90 for early registration (before Oct. 1)
  • Performance, Sunday, October 16, 7 pm: “Creation Stories” an intimate performance and gallery show including members of the October 8 class at “What Next” 7-12 Fraser Ave. (PWYW, suggested $15, or free for attendees of Saturday’s workshop)
  • Dialogue and the Art of Butoh Tuesday. October 18, 6-9 pm, at OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street. Lambert Lounge.
    A guided, expressive experience in deep nonverbal dialogue informed by butoh and embodied experiential practices with  Maureen Freehill  and Patricia Kambitsch. We ask you to respond to potent questions:
    What is dialogue at its core? How might physical presence and deep empathy inform the design of our own lives as art and craft? How might simple performance reveal the collective wisdom of individuals and mindful groups? What else can physical presence and intentional movement teach us? Come with questions. Leave with a simple process that enables profound dialogue through movement, word and visual images.  $25, $20 students or PWYW at the door.

For registration and more information contact Patricia Kambitsch at

or call 416.799.6750 


BUTOH was founded by dancers Hijikata Tatsumi and Kazuo Ohno in the 1960’s. This originally Japanese avant-garde performance art utilized principles from traditional Japanese theater and contemporary dance, poetic imagery, meditation and theatrical improvisation to create a unique art form that now influences artists of all genres worldwide.

CONTACT IMPROVISATION dance supports us in being present, fully embodied and physically intelligent through movement exploration and deep listening in contact with another person. Contact Improvisation is a free play between two or more moving bodies. Practices includes following a physical point of contact and supporting and giving weight to a partner. Sometimes quiet and meditative, sometimes wild and athletic, it is a dance open to all bodies and enquiring minds.

AUTHENTIC MOVEMENT is a practice of embodied presence that will help you become deeply connected with yourself through the use of movement and sound in the presence of a witness. You will be invited to close your eyes and open up to your inner landscape of experience; then to move and sound spontaneously (which can include stillness and silence) out of this relatedness to yourself. Authentic movement can be great fun, deeply moving, and powerfully restorative.  It can help you to shake off the bindings of inhibitions and self-consciousness, whether inherited or self-imposed, and free you up to commune with your essential self.


MAUREEN FREEHILL MFA is a master of being moved & utilized by the forces of nature—with over 30 years experience performing & facilitating Embodied Arts. She is the Founder & Artistic Director of MomoButoh Dance Company, an international performance collective based in Seattle area (; Founder & Builder of SOMA Pavi11ion: School for Embodied Arts in Nature on Whidbey Island, WA; DailyDance™ & LifeArt Mastery Mentor ( Her work springs directly from teachings of Kazuo & Yoshito Ohno; with whom she lived, studied & performed for 5 years in Japan. Her training includes an MFA in Directing Asian Theater, Dance Therapy at Naropa U. featuring Anna Halprin & certificates in Transpersonal Hypnotherapy & Hatha Yoga Instruction (Shambava/Shoshoni Center). She developed an international network of over 700 butoh enthusiasts ( as well as a repertoire of over 500 DailyDance™ videos for YearOfButoh ( She tours internationally & as guest artist at leading university dance & theater programs including Duke U, U of AZ, Seattle U, Virginia CU, E. Carolina U. & others. Her major butoh performances include solo & group appearances at festivals from Chuncheon, Korea to Asheville, NC.; touring & performances with Kazuo & Yoshito Ohno, Harupin-Ha (Tamanos), Katsura Kan, Joan Laage & Diego Pinon. She loves to dialogue about Embodied Arts & is currently working on her first book “Keys to a Life of Dancing Freely.”


started dancing at the tender age of 44 and has been exploring a world of movement possibility and fun ever since.  He has learned with a variety of Contact Improvisation teachers including Nancy Stark Smith, one of the pioneers of Contact dance.  Henry delights in introducing Contact Improvisation to newcomers and has a particular enthusiasm for teaching people with little or no dance background.

GENNIE BRUKNER  trained for three years at the Authentic Movement Institute in Berkeley, California.  She also trained with Ruth Zaporah in Action Theatre, Emilie Conrad Doud in Continuum Movement, Charlotte Selver in Sensory Awareness and Nina Martin in Ensemble Improvisation.  Her work is always informed by her meditation practice.


has been co-creating interdisciplinary arts workshops and groups for over fifteen years. A visual artist, performer, and author, she experiences art as dialogue. Through her graphic recording visual facilitation practice, she harvests individual stories and meaningful conversations. ( Patricia is a member of the Momobutoh Dance Company.

I’m so excited and inspired by our coming dance and arts series, Your Life, Your Story, Your Dance in October that I’ made a little book today explaining our intention.  Read more about the series that includes Butoh, Authentic Movement, Martial Arts, Contact Improvisation, dialogue, visual arts, written word, and performance here.

My butoh dance teacher, mentor, and coach, Maureen “MomoButoh” Freehill, is coming to Toronto this October.  I’m happy and honored to host her visit and to collaborate on a number of dance events while she’s here. Momo and the MomoButoh Dance Company have enriched my life and challenged me to deepen my daily dance practice to include multiple modes of art, writing, film, and public performance.

Save the dates. October 2011.  More details coming soon!

  • Workshop, Saturday, October 8 10 am -5 pm: “Your Life, Your Story, Your Dance” With Gennie Brukner, Henry Wai, and Vivek Patel. A Day of art making, dance making and life focusing through Authentic Movement, Contact Improvisation Dance, martial arts (Ninjutsu) and visual arts. $75-100 for the day the Lower Ossington Theatre, Light vegetarian lunch included.
  • Workshop, Saturday, October 15, 10 am – 4 pm: “Your Creation Story” a day of butoh, dance making, storytelling, creative writing, and visual art  At “What’s Next” 7-12 Fraser Ave.  $75-100 for the day. With Patricia Kambitsch and Maureen “MomoButoh” Freehill.  Light vegetarian lunch included. Members of the workshop will be invited to rehearsal and performance on October 16. (Making this a two day workshop, and quite a deal!)
  • Performance, Sunday, October 16, 7 pm: “Creation Stories” an intimate performance and gallery show including members of the October 8 class at “What’s Next” 7-12 Fraser Ave. ($15, or free for attendees of Saturday’s workshop)

For more information contact Patrica Kambitsch at 416.799.6750 

or email me at patricia @ playthink  .  com