Over the summer of 2018, choreographer Rachel Bernsen, composers Taylor Ho Bynum & Kyoko Kitamura and l brought together eleven strangers working as caregivers across the spectrum of healthcare to create a sound and movement choir.

The idea for the project began from a discussion of how a performance might be a means out of a sense of collective isolation. Because both of us have roots in New Haven, CT, we decided to focus our efforts on bridging divides in our home city.

Our first iteration was commissioned by Artspace (New Haven, CT) and performed at 2018 City Wide Open Studios: Wellbeing, at the former Bayer Pharmaceutical Headquarters in Orange, Connecticut. Our cast included a trauma nurse, an OBGYN and professor of public health, a death doula and former biomedical research scientist, the former director of CT Hospice, a therapeutic dance instructor for the elderly, a birth doula, a physical therapist, an expressive arts therapist, and two caregivers for ill family and friends.

The piece is a loose adaptation of Plato’s Symposium, a text about the origin of love and the never-ending search for wholeness. The performance revolves around the concept within the text of inherited memory: that notion that we may mutually remember something, without knowing one another directly.

Watch a trailer for filmmaker Justice Nnana’s documentary about the work above

Friday, October 26, 4 PM, FREE
Saturday, October 27, 4 PM, FREE
Sunday, October 28, 4pm, FREE
The work will be performed in the Alternative Space at Yale West Campus in West Haven, adjacent to the Yale School of Nursing and the site of a former pharmaceutical company.

Janice Baker: Healer through the expressive arts
Nathalie Bonafe: Death Doula
Bill Fischer: End of life doctor
Ziael Aponte: Therapeutic dance instructor
Ann T. Greene: Cancer buddy
Laurie Sweet: Birth Doula
Jackie Trimble Shapiro: Physical Therapist
Alejandro Mestre: Nurse
Jenessa Payano Stark: Midwife
Lynn Lantieri: Caregiver for family 
Marian Evans: Daughter, wife, professor

Commissioned by Artspace, Inc, for City-Wide Open Studios with support from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Connecticut Office of the Arts. This project is also supported, in part, by the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven and a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant.

Photos by Stephanie Anestis