“In Search of Sacred Bliss”

Posted by on December 12, 2010 in momobutoh dance company 11 11 salmon maureen momo freehill | 2 comments


“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 hooked by the dance as I was so moved by Momo’s ability to inspire such meaningful, soulful, dance expression.


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…
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 year old 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: 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…

Photos by Brooke

2 Comments

  1. Thank you Leela for your evocative account of your experience with 11/11 and how you found butoh in your life. Yes, nature constantly reminds us of our state of isness both internal and ever expanding. In nature I have been cradled and tossed about, on either end of that I am a happy student. ; )
    It is wonderful visit with you here. Much light to you.

  2. mmmm THANK YOU so much! .. this TRULY brought me back to our journey. so thankful for your reflections and the inspiration i gather from your movement, images, words and spirit.

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