top of page

Dear Molly (an experiment in dance notation)

Updated: Mar 6

In March 2022, I performed a work-in-progress at the RAWdance CONCEPT Series in San Francisco. The piece was an amalgamation of some movement material I had developed the previous month, and a fictional letter I'd written for a writing workshop around the same time. I first put them together on a whim, curious how the movement I'd developed might feel in concert with some words. I ended up liking how they worked off of one another!

Months later, I'm still fascinated by some of the questions that came up for me in my brief period working on this piece: What happens when you layer words and movement on stage? When and how can they elevate or amplify one another? When and how might they detract or distract from one another?These questions have driven a lot of my work, and I imagine will continue to be at the center of my creative processes for a long time. In the writing below, I continue this exploration through an experiment in dance notation. The text below is a copy-pasted version of the voice over for the piece at the RAW CONCEPT Series. The photos are images taken of the performance by photographer Hillary Goidell. What can be seen or experienced through viewing it all together?


Dear Molly,


This may be hard to believe. (out, switch)

Maybe sit down if you’re not already? On the big blue sofa in the living room…or better yet—cuddled up under that bright yellow blanket on your bed. Maybe close the door? I’m not trying to be dramatic. I just think you might want some privacy for this. (rolling up)

You’ve never met me, (down)

or at least, not in a long time. (roll over myself)

We were barely a collection of cells when we knew each other last—you thriving, me just barely hanging on, barely able to keep replicating. You know that part of the story—your mom waking up one morning to cramps and the terrible blood pouring from her body into the toilet. (push up)

She thought you were gone. (crawl)

But it was me. (crawl stop)


You should have been there when she found out you were still alive. (scooting) You were, but I think you were sheltered from the fullness of her reaction in her uterus. (slide)

I was still coursing through her veins and nerves as physical memory, so I felt the exact moment they picked up your heartbeat on the Echo. You should have felt the shock and relief when that sound hit her eardrums, Molly.

She’d already lost one of us.

She couldn’t stand to lose another.

You grew and replicated and transformed into a little human fetus. Did you still remember me then? I think you did, because I can still remember it all clearly, as if I was there with you—us barely touching.

Your birth was short and clean, your mom growling and ecstatic like a wild animal. Your dad couldn’t stop crying the first time he held you because your skin reminded him of his mother. He doesn’t know that. But he knew he’d never felt happier.

( ^ side to side, pushups, rolls, knees etc.)

You started missing me when they started you sleeping in your own bed.

You’d visit me at night, skin reaching out to feel me next to you in our dark little purse. But only in your dreams or unconscious moments. This was heart hunger—not something conscious or known. You didn’t have language at that point anyway, or even thinking in the way you do now. Your cells were still becoming you, differentiating from the world around you as your skin sealed you in and made your organs distinct from the universe.

( ^ shaking score)

You still feel that hunger though, don’t you? (pause)

( v sliding on knees, floorwork etc.)

I believe you do because I feel you looking for me sometimes. I feel your body wandering outside your cells, even if you don’t mean to. Am I making sense? The language…

…I think you know...

( v shaking score with stillness)

Is it hard for you?

Do you think it will change?

I have to admit now that I write with partially selfish intent. (walking forward)

(down, walking forward)

I feel your hunger for me, but I am starting to wonder if I, too, might have a capacity for hunger.

You called my name the other day for the first time. You scared me, Molly.

I’d never heard anyone say my name before. Didn’t even know that I had one.

But you spoke it, and it rang through my being like a bell, landed in the spot that makes me real. Did you mean to do that? Did you know what you were doing?

( v walking backwards)

It feels dangerous to even ask, and I know writing this letter breaks all kinds of rules, but I can’t help myself. Please, if this letter makes any sense to you at all, let me know.

Speak to me however you wish—I expect that if you want me to hear you, I will.

I hope that this doesn’t come as too much of a shock. That it leads to better things for both of us. Our dreamtime adjacency is no longer enough.

Sending you the presence and touch you crave with every atom of your being,

bottom of page