Monica’s Elemental Experience

Posted by on April 14, 2012 in Butoh Blog, momobutoh dance company | Comments Off on Monica’s Elemental Experience

Monica’s Elemental Experience
    • Monica Shumacher wrote this account of her experience at the 5Elements in the BODY Sanctuary Mini- Retreat at Butopia in March. Thanks to her for sharing an honest and in depth account of a sacred, enlivening & often challenging EMBODIED ART  process…:
    • “I love dance. I love movement. I love the elements. I love a life lived in experiences.The body is empty. The body is nothing. You are space. All around you is space.
    • One dance class I went to last year I was told, “Fill all the space.”
    • Since then, whenever I dance, I look into the openness and use my body to fill the emptiness with movement and energy. When Momo explained that her teachers believed the body was nothing, and we create the body with our experiences, that was congruous with what I felt and understood and I let the knowledge wash into me as more than information. Now knowing my body was empty and waiting for me to create it was an inspiration for movement.
    • Momo described each element and led us to move with her words and symbols like a candle for fire, feathers for air, and a bowl of rain for water, and recorded music.
    • As we began our dance our bodies made the room warmer and warmer. When we got to the fire element, it all made sense. One of the participants went over to the door to open it and Momo dashed over, stopping her with strong words that I can only paraphrase now as, “No! We’re heating this space up!” The strength of the fire element in me was a bit overwhelming and I felt myself dissolve into the role, heat and power and strength and joy and passion. No one could stop me. Until Momo slowly introduced holding that flame inside, and I felt the earth in me start to grow up around the vehement fire, sturdy as a tree, and I sat in meditation, legs crossed, still heated by my inner fire.
    • I could go through each element, tell how some of us started on the floor, growing out of it like roots while others were full of their air element unable not to flitter about all light and dreamy. The exercise showed me the importance of the elements that are strongest in me, and also my ignorance of the ones I was weaker in. I’m constantly working on discovering air and water, because they baffle and amaze me many a time. However, my stronger fire and earth elements sometimes get left behind so I only understand them when I’m jumping headfirst into them like the day at Butopia. Space is hardest of all to grasp, because it is impossible to hold onto, but all things call it source. Turning all these elements into movement helped my limbs be able to understand what my mind could not, and my mind is slowly catching on.
    • After we danced to the elements, Momo sent us out into nature to do a partner dance with a puddle or a tree or a fern or whatever we found and ask it to commune with us. In our own solo groups we went out and found what called to us. Why oh why did I have to feel called to a decaying tree? There were roots growing in and around the tree connecting to new growth everywhere: death creating new growth with its old growth. When we came back in, Momo had us complete our drawings with the third picture as an expression of what gift we’d received in our solo time with nature. The first picture we drew was to show how the elements existed in us during the dance to space that we did when we first arrived. The second was before we went outside to check in at how we felt the elements in us. When we got back from the outdoors, I felt removed and turned inward and when Momo asked us to perform alone about our experience that was the last thing I wanted to do.One by one we performed. Every dance was completely different and had its own beauty and experience to share. I felt privileged to be in that room where people revealed themselves, but the last thing I wanted to do was to share the mystery of me.Finally, when people were waiting around for a while between performances, I pushed power into my limbs. I curled into a ball, reached up to the sky trying to drink in its light and energy, then fell suddenly, like a dying tree, letting go. Momo said, “Surrender,” as I fell, offering me the gift of her words in affirmation of my movements.We ended with a chant and all of us were spent as we walked up to the house. People chatted. I felt silent. I took time to let the day digest in me while the rest of the group prepared for the lovely potluck. Everyone was friendly and full of welcome with something to share. Before long I came and joined them, playing with the hammock in the living room in the midst of conversation.”
  •  Moinca Schumacher be reached at
  • Butopia hosts regular mini-retreats on a wide variety of themes…the next one on 4/28/12 2-5pm will be about the Sacred Geometry of the Body & Nature.
  • We will engage in intermodal cylcles of drawing, collage, photography, music & body movement within a nature based context. We will delve into some of the basic foundations of sacred philosophy, architecture and butoh dance as they relate to DESIGN, FORM, LIGHT, COLOR and STRUCTURE in SPACE. CONTACT US TO REGISTER ASAP….space fills fast these days!  $25 suggested donation till 4/20 and $35 dollars 4/21 onward.


Monica’s Closing Offering~~a dying tree surrenders…