my eyes closed, the familiar strains washed over me:

bum. bum, di dum ….

my heart fluttered a little bit.  it was a brahms piece, sonata for cello and piano no. 2, specifically – the adagio. my favorite. i had used the selection in my thesis concert, in a solo i called “a recognition”. the sonata had provided the soundtrack for a pivotal moment in the piece, an awakening … “this is who i am. (isn’t it?)  a moment i have lived countless times in my own life, and on stage.

here i was, now – months later, listening to to that very same sonata live. it was being played by my friend jonathan, coincidentally, at his master’s concert. in the first half of that same show, we – jon and i, and collaborators and friends yee von ng (piano) and liz barton (choreograper) – had just performed altared for the last time  a piece we had been working on in some way or another in the months since my master’s concert several months before.  liz and i had snuck into the house at intermission to watch the second half of the recital, and then …

bum. bum, di dum …

and there i was, back in that solo moment on the dance theatre stage, back in all those moments, all those recognitions, all those pivitol scenes from my work and life …

it was, without a doubt, a most powerful way to finish my last performance at the university of maryland. for that, i say thank you to jon and liz and yee von and all the wonderful artists and friends who were with me in that recital hall and in my memories at that moment.


this is why we need the arts, why we as artists need to do everything we can to advocate for ourselves, for what we do, for the service we provide to audiences (and one another) day after day –  that rarest of chances to lose, and ultimately find, oneself in our work.


“A Recognition”, section from Like a Unicorn in Captivity by Shannon Dooling.

Photo by Zachary Handler.


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