Posts Tagged ‘butoh’

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.


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


Every two weeks I meet with my Butoh teacher, Maureen “Momo” Freehill via Skype. Momo challenges me. She teases my curiosity with bits of learning. She invites me to collaborate with other explorers. She helps me to expose new things about myself to myself and to others.  You can get a taste of what we do from looking at her blog, and her post capturing one of our lessons.

Through Momo’s teachings and bold examples I’ve been inspired to document my dancing  journey and to share these images with you at my own dance blog. The raw immediacy of the experience captured in these images are all part of the wisdom of the process. The exposure leaves me feeling quite naked sometimes.  It feels like no mistake, that this week Momo and I talked about nakedness, about exposure, about revealing layers and layers of learning. We also talked about naked feet in particular, and the baring of souls (and soles).

All this talk about nakedness reminds me of a little handwritten gift book I once made (about ten years ago) called Naked People.  Here’s the web version I had posted on my first website, now defunct,



Naked people are born naked.  Naked to the world, even on the coldest of winter evenings, naked people are meant to be naked always.  Destined to remain naked, naked people love their nakedness and they honor nakedness as sacred and holy.

Nakedness should be honored, even by the naked people themselves.  Though most naked people, truly naked people, are so shy about their clothes that one might assume they were shy about their nakedness, too.

But they’re not.

Naked people like to share their nakedness.

Like this.

“Who me?  Work?  I’m too busy being naked.”

But even when a naked person’s bare naked breasts aren’t all perfect and perky like those you see here, a truly naked person doesn’t mind.  And a truly naked person doesn’t mind if your naked breasts aren’t perky either.

A truly naked person would never measure her nakedness against yours.  A naked person is simply naked. No reason. No motives. No judgement.  Naked people don’t critique your nakedness, or your spelling.

Naked people are fun to be with.

One moment a naked person can be talking to you all shy and self-conscious about work and dead authors, politics and religion.

Then, the very next moment, one of you takes a big risk, opens up, and exposes a naked truth once hidden inside. Suddenly, you’re both naked and you’re not talking about work any more. Nakedness makes all the details of work and buying stuff and accomplishment irrelevant. All that matters when you’re naked is the pure pleasure of your shared nakedness.

Chapter One

Finding Naked People

Naked people are not always easy to find. This is especially true since naked people are usually wearing clothes.  They have to in order to survive.

In public, anyway.

Naked people have a beauty and purity rare and raw that shines through the drabbest and dreariest of clothing.

And you might meet a person with no clothes on at all and he still might not be naked.

People like that are hiding behind their nakedness. They’re not naked at all.

It can be terribly confusing with so any unclothed people parading around as if they were naked when they are not, and so many naked people walking around with clothes on.

Just remember this.  Everyone has the potential for nakedness.  In fact, everyone, no matter what they’re wearing or not wearing, has a nakedness as unstoppable as babies, once revealed.

Often, people are just waiting for you to get naked first.

Chapter Two

Getting Naked

The best way, the only way, to nurture nakedness in others is to be naked yourself.

In a world of nakedness, this can be hard to do. Especially if you’re used to wearing clothes all the time.

If you’re always comparing your own nakedness to other people’s nakedness, then you’ll never really be naked no matter how many layers you take off.

You’ll never be able to enjoy the nakedness of others because you’ll be too busy thinking un-naked thoughts like, “ I look better than they do.”  Or, “I wish I could look as good naked as he does.”  Or, “If I looked like that I could be naked.”  Or, “That person has no business being naked.”  Or “That’s not the way naked people are supposed to look, they’re supposed to look like the ones in my bookmarks or in magazines and maybe someday when I get skinny enough or work out enough or go to the surgeon enough or when someone invents a time machine that will take me far back enough in my youth, then I can be good enough to be naked around all these other naked people.”

No, you’ll never be naked if you measure your nakedness against the nakedness of other people.

To become naked, you simply have to be naked.  And you can’t wait for other people to take your clothes off for you.

Even if you could piece together a perfect body, you could still find fault.  There would always be lots of other bodies out there that are smoother, stronger, bendier, leaner, lovelier than your own.  But you’ll never find a nakedness more worthy of love than your own.

If you’re always busy finding fault with other people’s nakedness just so that you can feel better about your own, then you’ll never feel the joy of sharing in other people’s nakedness.

Just think.  We are  surrounded by beautiful nakedness all the time. It’s up to us to enjoy it.

Chapter 3

Ever meet a baby?

Babies are naked no matter how many clothes they’re wearning.  Naked and open, babies are ready for anything.

Babies have been naked all along, naked in the womb, surrounded by their mother’s naked insides, they are born with no regard for hiding behind clothes, not their own or anybody else’s.

Babies love being naked and they love it when everybody else is naked too.

Babies could care less what their own nakedness looks like.  We call them beautiful even when they are bald and cone headed, even though they have rolls of fat and cellulite, even when they have little penises and dimpled butts and double chins and are loud and stinky and selfish, even when they do nothing but make work for everybody else, demand attention, drain bank accounts, and leak foul substances. We say they are precious little miracles even when they have no degrees, can’t do laundry, and haven’t been published. Still, we say they are beautiful and lovable.

How can this be?

Maybe it is their nakedness that makes it so.

Babies, in their nakedness, could care less what you look like naked.  They enjoy your nakedness no matter what. Even if you don’t appreciate your own nakedness, they do.

They love the touch of your naked hands and will cling to your naked belly and crave the warmth of naked skin surrounding naked skin.

When babies suck on your breasts, they don’t care what your breasts look like or if they’re big enough or firm enough or symmetrical enough or match up to some picture they saw nor do they fantasize about some other baby’s mother’s breasts.  All they care about is if those breasts are present here and now, naked, exposed, and accessible.

And the pleasure a baby gives in return is exquisite.

But babies don’t care about giving you pleasure.  They don’t touch you to make you feel good.  They don’t offer their hungry little naked sucking lips to you to bring you ecstasy.  They just do.

And when a baby first recognizes his own naked body in front of a mirror, he doesn’t judge or compare or wish for a different body or seek self improvement or make promises to go to the gym or wishes he looked more like the baby on the diaper commercial or decide he should concentrate on achievement or long for the body he had when he was younger of if other people would love him if they saw his nakedness or worry if when he grows up if he’ll have acne or lose his hair or grow any in the first place.

No, when a baby first recognizes his naked body in the mirror as his own,

he laughs.

“Forgiveness, like art, is a process and not an event. As artists, we pave the way for forgiveness.”
A.K. Mimi Allin

Three invitations to experience and explore forgiveness through dance came to me this year.

In February I danced with Roger Sams at the Sacred Arts Holistic Center in Cleveland during a weekend where we explored shadows and created a ritual of forgiveness.

Later, in the spring, Vivek Patel and his company the Disciples of Dance in Toronto invited me to dance in a piece called Dance of Forgiveness.

Then, just yesterday, I danced (remotely) with Mareen Freehill and MomoButoh Company in “Studies in Forgiveness.”  Studies in Forgiveness is a one of a series of studies currated by A. K. Mimi Allin. Yesterday’s study was staged, in part,  under the troll bridge near Seattle, Washington.  Since I couldn’t be with MomoButoh in person,  I agreed to participate by creating a simultaneous  study in forgiveness in Cleveland.

The timing was, in a way, perfect. This would be day eight of an eight-day arts intensive workshop at the Sacred Arts Holistic Center. I had all I needed: I had dancers, I had time, I had a BP gas station next door, and I after spending eight intense days of sharing space and life stories and creative process with a houseful of other artists, I had plenty to ask forgiveness for. Other than the timing and a suggestion from Momo to wear pink,  we were free to explore forgiveness on our own.

We begin our study at a busy BP Station on the corner of West and Loraine in Cleveland’s west side.

With rose in hand one hand, pump in the other, I fill up the tank of a friend’s car with BP unleaded 87.  I feel the pressure and the flow. I have created horrors. My guilt gushes in toxic plumes unchecked. I am complicit with murderers and rapists. The world is ending the earth is bleeding wars are raging and it’s all my fault.

The rose in my hand withers, falls apart, begins to dis-integrate.

I start the long, slow climb to the  temple, the dance studio in the attic of the Center, next to the BP Station. My steps grow heavy. Heavy. By the time I reach the top of the steps I have fallen. My fragile rose is reduced to a single petal. I guard and protect its withered remains.

Three beings, pink as forgiveness, greet me. Each dancer moves to me dressed in pink, light and sweet. Encouraging, inspiring, but not helping.

This is my struggle.  I’m draped in my heavy brown. Heavy as earth. Weighty as guilt I will not release. My journey is difficult. I am hot and heavy, nearly suffocating. I struggle to remove my heavy brown skirt and shirt,  I want to tear it off. I want to keep it on. I want to hide under its protection. I am paralyzed by its weight.

I’m sorry.

Forgive me.

Thank you.

I love you.

The dancers pull the weight of clothing from me.

I emerge.

I am pink. I am forgiveness. I pass the tiny fragile petal to the dancers. I join in the dance.

And so the process of exploring forgiveness develops as a continuing study. An experiment. An experience. A healing process of re-integration.

just one arm’s reach

to touch a cloud

and nothing’s ever the same again


a simple wish
wash my sins away

who knows

just one slip

in a trail of mud

might change everything

music by Rachel’s,  “Water from the Same Source”

Visit my butoh mentor’s inspiring blog here: Maureen ‘Momo’ Freehill

Today Liz and I spent the day cleaning, dancing, basking in the spirit of mother and daughter. Does the scale of environmental catastrophes diminish our feeble efforts at cleanup? Maybe. Still we clean in presence, in style, and in beauty in the midst of heavy traffic.

music: DJ Shadow, Can’t Stop Now

Location:  Trinity Bellwoods Park,  Toronto, just inside the Queen West entrance

The idea: Wear white. Go to a park or other grassy area on a late spring day. Dance. Galumph. Roll.  Play.

The players: My new friend Elsa,  my camera, the park, the street, and me. (Elsa performs as a member of Dzieci, an experimental theatre ensemble. I met Elsa this spring on my pilgrimage to Philadelphia, where I went to experience Dzieci’s performance of Fool’s Mass and Makbet.  Dzieci creates life-changing experiences. For real.)

The intention: Explore and perform and improvise with my newly found friend and conspirator Elsa. Experience the park, the day, the grass. Let our surroundings move us, mark us, stain us.

The result: An exercise in presence. A discovery that dancing in public is easier, more spontaneous, lighter and deeper each time I do it. A growing acceptance for the camera as  a participant in these experiments. A surprise that white is much less fragile and much more persistent than I had imagined. Our clothes remained virtually stain-free.

And another surprise: People, things, plants everywhere around us seemed to be wearing white: a bride posing for pictures, a stretch limousine parked on the street,  the edible black locust blossoms we stopped to forage and feast. Elsa asks me to ask myself: What is the personal meaning of all this white?

I never really felt drawn to white before, but it is on this day calling to me from billboards, on tshirts, in the fancy French shop, in the salt on the caramel tart, from the lines on the street in the blazing bright sun. Today white appears as a sign of possibility, of expansion, of a blankness allowing us, inviting us, prodding us to create in the spaces that open themselves to us.

Music: Four Tet