Rachel Bernsen is an independent dance artist, dance educator and certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. She is one part of Masters of Ceremony (aka Quartet Collective), investigating improvisational practices and interdisciplinary possibilities with dancer and choreographer Melanie Maar and composer/performers Taylor Ho Bynum and Abraham Gomez-Delgado. She has an ongoing collaboration since 2012, with the visual artist Megan Craig. Their projects include Traveling In Place (2017) for The Yale University Art Gallery, Colorada (2015) which premiered at the Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim in Neuenhaus, Germany as part of a larger exhibition of Craig's work. Previous works include net work (please touch) (2014), a commission from New Haven's ARTSPACE Gallery. Other recent projects include a trio collective with dance artists Pamela Newell and Bronwen MacArthur. Bernsen's Choreographic work includes After the Meadow, Before the Forest (2013), in collaboration with dancer Pamela Newell, composer Carl Testa and the vocalists Anne Rhodes and Jean Carla Rodea. She has collaborated extensively on multiple projects with Ho Bynum including Corridor (2011) and Glimmer Glint Glisten (2010).
Rachel is also currently working with composer Anthony Braxton. She was the choreographer for the latest production of Braxton's Sonic Genome Project (Torino Jazz Festival 2015), was the choreographer for his opera Trillium J which premiered in April, 2014 at Roulette in NYC and is a performer in his interdisciplinary Pine Top Aerial Music project. She has also worked with composer and bagpipes player Matthew Welch, and collaborated on numerous projects with Testa and Rhodes including User (2010) and Unicorns Were Horses (2009). Rachel was a participating artist in the World Performance Project's Think Jam: Improvisation Across Disciplines, a symposium on improvisation at Yale University. She is a multiple year recipient of the Mayor's Community Arts Grant from the city of New Haven (2011/12 & 2012/13), a 2007 NEA Honorary Fellow at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and was a 2005/06 Dance Theater Workshop Fresh Tracks artist-in-residence.
In NYC her work has been shown at The Austrian Cultural Forum's Moving Sounds Festival, Arts For Art, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, Roulette, The Chocolate Factory, The Vision Festival, Issue Project Room, Movement Research Spring Festival, Catch! Performance Series, The Poetry Project, The NOT Festival, Dixon Place, Jalopy Theater, ArtSpace New Haven, and Movement Research at the Judson Church. Rachel has also presented projects internationally at The Free Music Festival in Antwerp, Belgium; Vienna, Austria; Amsterdam,The Netherlands; Bologna, Italy, and in Cologne and Kassel Germany.
Rachel is the founder of the performance space and movement laboratory, The BIG ROOM in New Haven, CT and curator of its interdisciplinary performance series, Take Your Time. The series' debut in May 2010 was profiled in the New York Times and received an overall Best of 2010 mention in the New Haven Register.
In 2015/16 Rachel was a visiting assistant professor at Trinity College, department of Theater and Dance. She has been a guest artist at Miami Dade College (MDC Live Arts Lab), Yale University, Wesleyan University, Texas Woman's University and Connecticut College. She is on faculty at Movement Research, and traveled to Russia as a teaching artist for the Moscow Dance Agency Tsekh Summer Dance Festival. She was the rehearsal co-director for a student performance of Braxton's Pine Top Aerial Music Project at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. From 2011-2014 she was on the dance faculty at The Educational Center for the Arts (ECA), an arts high school in New Haven, CT. Rachel maintains a private practice in the Alexander Technique.
From 2002 to 2006 Bernsen performed and toured with the performance art group and recording artists Fischerspooner. She has also performed with Emily Coates, RoseAnne Spradlin, Juliette Mapp, Risa Jaroslow and Dancers, Urban Bush Women, and Minneapolis based artists Morgan Thorson, Wynne Fricke, and Leah Nelson.
Bernsen was a managing editor of and contributor to the Movement Research Performance Journal (MRPJ) and has written for the AmSAT News. From 2009-11 she served on the board of the American Society for the Alexander (AmSAT), and from 2011-2013, on the board of Elm City Dance Collective (ECDC).
Rachel holds an MFA in Dance from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, and a BA in English Literature from Macalester College.