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Five dancers in a clump on stage as if hiding

if i tell people my story.


Sonia Golad shares her childhood experiences in the Holocaust with visual interpretation of her words through dance.


This dance was created in response to the shootings at Kansas City's Jewish Community Center and Pittsburgh's Tree of Life Synagogue as a plea for tolerance in partnership with the descendants of Mrs. Golad with special thanks to the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education.

artistic process.

4 dancers on stage. Three standing in doorways, one jumping

Joyce and Alex Hess are the daugther and granddaughter of Sonja Golad. Mrs. Hess is a member of the second generation speakers through the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education.  Mrs. Hess shared an interview recorded of her mother's life story including a written transcript.

Mrs. Hess, Alex, the dancers and Ryanstrati gathered in a dance studio.  Mrs. Hess shared her mother's story and showed photographs and official documentation showing her family's history in work and concentration camps. A question and answer session and journaling time followed.

Each participant developed movement representing a portion of the story, and taught it to the group. This movement was incorporated into the final choreography.

Throughout the process, Ryanstrati shared photos and videos with Mrs. Hess and continued to inquire about Mrs. Golad's life to ensure historical accuracy.  Rehearsals were open to her family. 


A set piece, made out of existing door frames, was made by Ryanstrati with the assistance of Anne McCormick. Using doorframes was an intentional representation of entering and exiting with design, influenced by Kristallnacht (the night of the broken glass) and fencing at the camps. The set was moved throughout the performance to represent a hiding place, a train, a pathway to the crematorium, and a place Mrs. Golad distracted the commadant while others escaped.

This dance was presented in public performances and a special invitation presentation with Mrs. Hess and Ryanstrati for the Midwest Center for Holucaust Education. 

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