Inside the Creation of When I am Lost, We Speak in Flowers

The studio became quiet. 

A serene calmness blanketed the room. 

Then it began.

The dancers became one as they maneuvered through the choreography. They precisely executed each step with tranquil vigor. Until they began to slowly break off from the group in ones and twos. Those that would breakaway would find their way back into the body of the group to become one again. It was as if the dancers knew somehow that there was more strength in each other than alone. 

As I watched Joni McDonald’s creation, the piece echoes the reminder that we all need someone to rely on. The stories told throughout When I am Lost, We Speak in Flowers conjure up emotions and reminders of things I myself have been through. As one relationship ended, a new one would begin. As one person falls apart, another is there to lend a hand. These are all experiences that everyone goes through which led me to wonder, how did this piece come to fruition? 

Just like how the piece takes the audience through the ebbs and flows of life, the creation of it took the same path. It started with an idea of being trapped within one’s own body. With this idea in mind, McDonald started creating with the intention of having limitations set on the dancers. Limitations led to abstract movement that organically led McDonald to discover the story of this narrative work. McDonald saw how the connections between dancers and limitations translated into stories of life, loss, and how we can relate to each other through our individual stories. 

The calmness that once held the room dissipated. 

The dancers were given notes, but the notes took on a different meaning as they dived into the relationships within the work. Dancers would relate personal experiences and how they could draw from those in order to convey a certain mood or feeling. I was intrigued by how they took moments in their own lives and placed them into their movements through McDonald’s guidance. It made the emotions of the piece feel more real and raw to me as a viewer. 

As McDonald’s work takes shape in the studio, I am eager to see how it will all come together on stage next week with lighting, sets, and costumes. Here’s to harnessing that anticipation for opening night on October 24! 

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