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"I felt the desire to move": Audience responses to "Goddess Rising"

Author's Note: This poem was created using found text from audience member's written responses to the Goddess Rising, choreographed by Sara Malan-McDonald, which premiered on March 31st. Immediately after the performance ended, I invited audience members to respond in writing to this series of prompts provided by the choreographer:

What did you see?

What did you think?

What did you feel?

What did you wonder?

What will you remember?

Why does it matter?

Those who consented to share their writing were aware that it would be used in a written work published online. The words and phrasing were kept intact although I played with the arrangement and composition.


"Women are resisting; women are rising and women are celebrating that which makes them uniquely human....Goddess Rising, is a deeply personal non-linear autobiographical modern dance-work based on the format of women’s circles. This dance intimately explores the power of divine femininity. It tells the unfinished story of one woman’s life-long spiritual quest to find a connection with a female deity-a Goddess." - Sara Malan-McDonald (Choreographer)



incense burning, circular patterns,

lakes, rivers, wings.

(always separated groups doing different things)

a group of strong, beautiful

women. open exploration

simultaneous movement

circular patterns.

the smell.

the collaboration

of so many.


the hope

the silence

the darkness the feeling alone

A religion that doesn’t appear to have room

for women

with questions

fighting against/reacting to

who want more than

what sloppy seconds they’ve been given

the hope

the silence

the darkness the revealing

women observing themself and other women

(I want you to write about this process. I would love

to read a written work of this.)


You opened like 10 cans of worms in this piece. I don’t think you needed to explain at the end, you could have just let us sit in the worms/let the weird/awkwardness and questions crawl all over the audience… At the same time, I wondered about different views of audience members.

The spoken word was very helpful. Otherwise I would have no idea what any of the motions represent.


Freaky music is distracting

I felt sad and unsure of how/if to applaud at the end

This touched a deep, vulnerable part of me

a part that needed some mending.


​When you were talking about your dream

Especially when you were talking about your daughters

I like the “I drank the pond” quote

It made me very emotional

When you were talking about your dream

I felt a glimpse into

and the desire to move

I feel saddened

I felt sad

I felt it all.


How would someone else respond to the same dream?

What did the trees/branches represent?

How are the men in the audience feeling/thinking?

This is exactly

what you promised in the trailer.


I am not broken and I never was.


It matters:

to express the Mormon condition

because I have been minimizing myself

because of the collective plight of

women through time and belief system

because we women

are worth (The smell. The collaboration of so many! That DREAM!)

and important to the eternal.


1. to be kind. 2. to be careful with words


Goddess Rising was choreographed by Sara Malan-McDonald, in collaboration with the dancers: Jasmine Benton, Dienae Hunter, Melissa Landon, Elisa Schellenberg, and Ashley Watkins. A section of the piece was choreographed by Gina Jurek.

Photography: Jenny Gerena.

Allyson Yoder could never decide what she wanted to be when she grew up: famous ballerina, broadway star, or well-regarded author? These days she strikes a happy medium (minus the fame) by dancing and creating locally, and writing and editing the Phoenix Dance Observer. Allyson is also a Permanent Artist in Residence at [nueBOX] and will be hosting a workshop series on writing about dance this summer.

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