You say it in words. Lauren Covalucci says it in dance.

by Guest Blogger

By Guest Blogger Lauren Covalucci

Though everyone has an instinctual drive to communicate, some aren’t satisfied merely with speech. Why I feel the need to communicate through dance instead of something simpler--perhaps twitter or some friendly smoke signals--is beyond me, but I've nonetheless been a dancer my whole life and can't turn back now. Until this semester I've been perfectly happy enacting other people's visions. Then, all of a sudden, I thought to myself, "Maybe I should try creating my own dance," and here I am four months later preparing for (stressing over) my choreographic debut with the Harvard Radcliffe Modern Dance Company in our spring show Reconfigured, running 8 p.m. Friday, April 20 and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 21 at the Harvard Dance Center.

Being a rookie choreographer, despite a decade and a half of dance experience, felt like starting from scratch. How do I decide what story I want to tell? How do I take something that exists in my head and make it a visible, tangible reality? In my current case, how do I show how I feel when I'm in a bad mood, strutting around my room like Dave Grohl in the music video for The Pretender? Do people who go to modern dance shows even know who Dave Grohl is?

Writers, both academic and creative, ask similar questions and go through much of the same process. Where they use words, though, choreographers use people, and to communicate with my audience, I first had to communicate with my dancers in more

than 12 weeks of rehearsal. It can be easier to write a sentence than to explain to my invaluable cast of six how exactly to "fall to the ground after the shwoosh-y thing," but no dictionary has ever offered artistic opinions to refine my vision or corrected me when I mix up left and right. At some imperceptible point, the dance became not mine but ours, and this weekend I’ll relinquish all control off of it when I watch my dancers from the wings.

I started this process wanting to convey something very specific to the audience, but one of the most fascinating parts of learning to choreograph was coming to the realization that my message has passed from me to my dancers, and from my dancers to the audience members, who have final control over where the message goes next.

My piece looks just how I envisioned, but I’ll never know precisely what it will communicate to each spectator. The prospect can be scary, but I’ve learned to love that uncertainty—it’s part of what transforms movement on a stage into art.

[Caption: RECONFIGURED dancers Jenny Zhang '14, Julia Cataldo '15, Christine Maroti '14, Paula Maouyo '14 . PHOTO: Polina Bartik '12]

[Caption: RECONFIGURED dancer Christine Maroti '14. PHOTO: Kevin Lin '12]