The Reflective Face

As masked women in the circle, we wear our secrets and our feathers. Bird-wing women. Masks represent ways we hide our feelings. We dance. Spontaneously a masked woman enters the circle, slowly or spinning or high stepping. At the moment of uncovering she removes her mask to reveal her reflective face. As woman after woman enters the spotlight of the centre of the circle dancing and strips her mask, we cheer. Vulnerable without what hides us, sweat, and crease, and laughter, we: flash glitter dancing glyphs; we: body poetry.

The Reflective Face, 2009, 13"x16"; 33cmx41cm;
India inks, oil pastels, acrylic & dried leaves on archival paper (on right, earlier version; on left, finished, with leaves dried nearly to veins, gloss, and more paint added -click on images to see larger versions)

I didn't like the finished painting, so have played with it in Photoshop. The original is varnished, very high gloss.

A poetic response to one of the exercises Erica Ross facilitated during her Dance Our Way Home session, 'Honouring Your Feelings,' the second session of the Nest & Nourishment series, last Saturday. She offers the same class each Wednesday evening.

I wished to write about the dance of the masked women and thought to paint a feather mask to illustrate this post. Because of the way the paper buckled with the wet paint, and the shape of the neck, I think it is a man angel. I call my masked man, or perhaps beneath the mystery of the mask, woman,  The Reflective Face.

A woman's sanctuary in the heart of Toronto.
Location:Dovercourt House, 3rd floor

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Where Butterflies are Born

When my own dance began, oh, it was hard. I lay on the floor, like a grub. I crawled forward following a line of sun that fell across the floor. I crawled forward and was pulled back, again and again. On I struggled, slipping back, pushing on. I fell off the path. Defeated. I pulled myself with pain, effort back to the track of sun. In the whole dance I made only an inch of progress, until I gave up. Almost by levitation, I felt myself rising. As if strings were attached to my arms and back and head. And those strings were pulled by higher forces and I began to dance like a marionette, shaky and wobbly on the floor. I was uncertain, but felt guided by unseen masters. It was a happier dance than the hard journey on the floor had been. I jumped and writhed and flopped and flounced like a puppet on strings, only I distinctly felt that I was achieving what I most wanted to achieve, and I only achieved it by letting go, and trusting. It was a strange, ecstatic feeling, perhaps like a newly emerged wing-wet butterfly trusting inborn instinct, rising and flying.

I'm writing about last Saturday's dance, 'Honoring Your Feelings, in the DOWH Nourishment series that Erica Ross offers. She is offering the same class this Wednesday evening.

A woman's sanctuary in the heart of Toronto.
Location:Dovercourt House, 3rd floor

At this point in the DOWH session, we were partnered and I was dancing what I was feeling while being witnessed by my partner. It is surprising what insights emerge in dance, isn't it. We bare our souls; we find kinetic metaphors for where we are on our life paths; we move through huge issues, blocks, grief, things that seem immovable. Like many, I couldn't live without dance. On the dance floor we support each other's processes. We give space to our intertwining energies. We enjoy our mutual beauty.

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White, a Butoh-inspired dance by Brenda Clews

A poetry in motion. I played with negatives. It reminds me of ice and snow, of liberation from constraint. Of imaging between being and non-being. Of the mother. Of the sorrow of the mother earth. Of disappearing into and emerging from. Of the continuous cacophony of the dance of life. Of the disjointed, an awkward grace. The film loses some of its quality in the uploaded video: the semi-opague layers appear more like faded images than the transparencies they are. Yet you let go of the white leaf and let it float out to the sea. I wanted to add a poem, and perhaps that's next. The flowers are from photographs I took last year of mandalas of fresh flowers in the street outside an Indian restaurant in honour of a Hindu festival. The increasing presence of the flowers behind the screen of the dance is a reminder of what is ever-present, profundita natura, the profundity of nature at its most beautiful, fragile, transitory, in the flower. I leave you with a screen of flowers, like a prayer.

Hi beautiful friends, Sharing 'White, a Butoh-inspired dance.'.. film clip from late last Summer, and then all last night editing (editing video I'm discovering is like that:-) ...layering... images, sounds, yet not wanting to disturb the vulnerability, perhaps strangeness, of this 'silent film'... Butoh can express the painful and beautiful paradoxes of life in an intimacy that is almost unbearable to watch, I don't know if this film has that, but it's in the intent.

Feedback is always wonderful as I stumble down the path of this art form.

If 'White' opens something out in you, even in resistance, or in a sense of discomfort, then that is the Butoh influence, and then I'll know your reaction is like mine. For I don't know who that woman is, something else takes hold, another energy flows through.

Many thanks for taking the time to look at this. Many thanks for the blessing you are in my life,

hugs, Brenda xo

direct link to the video at YouTube: White, a Butoh-inspired dance.
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