Trumpeting in Twenty Eleven

Posted by on January 1, 2011 in momobutoh dance company soul nature butoh swans mary oliver maureen freehill | 2 comments

The Swan
Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?
Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –
An armful of white blossoms,
A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned
into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,
Biting the air with its black beak?
Did you hear it, fluting and whistling
A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall
Knifing down the black ledges?
And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –
A white cross streaming across the sky, its feet
Like black leaves, its wings
Like the stretching light of the river?
And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?
And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?
And have you changed your life?
Mary Oliver
I received a message from Momo on New Year’s Day in which she wrote – “what you do/feel/be sets the tone for the whole of 11….”
On reflection of the previous year I realized how much I have missed dancing as regularly as I was during 2009 YearOfButoh’s daily dancing. It was such a profound way of connection to my day to day experience in such a meaning-full way – the practice of dancing from the soul.
On New Year’s Day, en-route, once again, from care-taking for my elderly father, I felt I wanted to “set the tone for the whole of 11” with a dance… thank you, dear Momo, for the inspiration, to dance more in the upcoming year.
The sun was near setting and I knew I had to do my dance practice in the magical Skagit Valley. Mount Baker to the north and Mount Ranier to the south were glowing in the late afternoon light and I was feeling the call to dance with the element ‘space’ in the cleavage of the open valley.
My Dad went into the hospital on Christmas Eve after a fall and I had many challenges in ‘breaking him out’ of the hospital where they have so many protocols for discharging seniors – making sure they will have a safe environment to live in if they go home (versus placement in a nursing home). Unfortunately, the hospital was understaffed and my Dad’s care there was questionable. And so in the dark of night, against the normal protocol, with his doctor’s permission, however, I ‘broke him free’ from the hellish existence within the hospital where he was sharing a room with 3 others across from the noisy nurses station, with so many seniors groaning in pain heard throughout the ward and many calls of ‘please help me,’ being unanswered and echoing through the hallways.
My Dad now has 24 hour care at home, is living in an environment of peace where he has lived for over 40 years and where he wishes to pass his final days…
In the Skagit valley I loved how when I parked at this location beside a farmer’s field, a flock of trumpeter swans flew overhead, trumpeting into the infinite space of sky heading towards the east, the direction of insight and clear seeing – a reminder to dance freely into spaciousness.
And so this spontaneous dance is one of ‘breaking free’ into the expanse of the inner and outer landscapes, of getting in-touch with an inner joy that surfaced in the playfulness of the dance expression, of surrendering to the ‘marionette-like’ spirit that seemed to surface (after going through the hoops of red-tape to find freedom for my father the puppet seemed appropriate in retrospect, but such a surprise) and also of getting in-touch with the feeling of space on the inside, after so many inner emotional challenges during the process of releasing my father from the hospital…
It was so soul satisfying to initially break the ice and hear it crack ‘open’ which felt like a freeing of an inner expression of warmth from it’s cold bondage – an opportunity to lean into my wings..
Feeling grateful for the swans, the ice, the space and this dance practice as inspired by Momo… and for my connection here with you all – Momobutoh Company :~) and for all who may be viewing…
Music: Philip Glass


  1. there are so many layers to this post, the water, the care for a loved one, the ice, the swans, the reflection, the movement, the beauty of the earth and sky, the beauty of the dancer
    I know how hard it is to care for a parent. I start to choke a little when I think of the details of my parents' stays in long term care facilities, the red tape, cracking through, release. I remember the bittersweet moments of breathing fresh air after a long visit. And I see you so free and present.
    I feel enriched by your posts. thank you.

  2. the space!!! ahhhhhh!!! love the way you are flitting across it, thru it!!! The cracking ice portrays such eloquence and power. Your movements command joy and depth of heart. Thank you for sharing this tender time with us.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *