The Elements Project: WOOD & SPACE

Posted by on December 30, 2010 in dance, dance film, improvisation, Karen Nelson, Lisa Nelson, maureen freehill, media, momobutoh | 1 comment


For a dancer, God is Space.” –Yoshito Ohno


I consider SPACE to be the consciousness and awareness that we have of ALL The Elements in life and dance. If it were not for SPACE we would not have the context for our creations. Although MomoButoh Dance practice often occurs outdoors and in all sorts of elemental and day to day locations, the traditional dance studio SPACE with a wonderful WOOD floor remains a most heavenly canvas for creation in our profession. During this moon of The Elements; I see the countless ways that WOOD and SPACE have contributed to my being but, with our dark wet Pacific Northwest winter weather, the simple indoor studio SPACE with a WOOD floor to dance upon with others who wish to share that experience has been the most necessary and precious gem. A dream I intend to realize in 2011 is the creation of a MomoButoh Dance Studio. It is an actual place, build by hand, with a floor made of wood, it is circular or oval, light filled, cozy and spacious; it is set in a beautiful & private natural area with plenty of room for a group to train, retreat, perform, dwell and rest. Please help me hold this image and work to realize it this coming year so that we can begin retreats and training here in 2012!


A couple of weeks ago I attended a workshop with Karen Nelson about Improvisation for Performance. We learned and eventually performed the Tuning Score and Single Image Score originally conceived by Lisa Nelson. The videos below are excerpts from our public showing of the practice that included dancers and witnesses crafting the performance experience they desired by calling directions aloud during the dance. All of the scenes begin with the dancer entering with eyes closed. Mostly we had to sense the SPACE using our perceptions of sound, touch and motion from the response of the WOOD floor and furniture. If you listen carefully, you can hear the distinctive creaks and calls from witnesses. The call “Pause” means just that and “End” means to clear the space altogether. The call “Play” means to continue with the action, “Reverse” means to go backwards from that point; “Report” means to offer a verbal report of one’s current experience; and “Replace” means to take the place of another person. Then at some point the vocal call “Open” means that the visual sense is brought into play or “Closed” means it is denied again. I loved how this score heightens dancers skills of perception and imagination by limiting some options such as movement and sight. When re-crafting the live experience into video it was fascinating how the practice seemed even stronger somehow on film given the relationship to the media (video & audio players) that was the origin of the metaphors of “pause,” “play,” “reverse” that we were exploring.


1 Comment

  1. holding your vision of the wood and space studio with you!!! mmmm… 2011 seems like the perfect time to manifest this dream :~) loved the dance films of space exploration….

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