Profile Type: Artist
NEFA Grant Recipient
Rachel Bernsen

Rachel Bernsen is a choreographer, performer, and certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. Her current project, I Know You So Well, A Sound and Movement Choir for People Who Work in Healthcare is a multi-disciplinary work of movement, text and voice in collaboration with writer Rachel Kauder Nalebuff. She is currently dancing with Yvonne Rainer and Emily Coates in a reconstruction/reimagining of Rainer's Parts of Some Sextets, a seminal work from 1965, and is a 2020 artist-in-residence at the Karl Kemp Performance Space at NYC's Balance Arts Center. She is one part of Masters of Ceremony, an improvisational and interdisciplinary quartet with dancer/choreographer Melanie Maar and composer/performers Taylor Ho Bynum and Abraham Gomez-Delgado. She has created multiple works with visual artist Megan Craig includingTraveling In Place (2017) for The Yale University Art Gallery and Colorada (2015) for Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim in Neuenhaus, Germany. 

Rachel has done multiple projects with composer Anthony Braxton including as choreographer for the latest production of Braxton's Sonic Genome Project (Torino Jazz Festival 2015). She was 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 created collaborative works with other composers including vocalist Kyoko Kitamura, bagpipes player Matthew Welch and numerous projects with bassist and electronics artist Carl Testa and vocalist Anne Rhodes. Rachel was a participating artist in the World Performance Project's Think Jam: Improvisation Across Disciplines, a symposium on improvisation at Yale University. 

She has received multiple commissions for new work from Artspace New Haven and has received support for her work from NEFA (New England Dance Fund), the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, the Mayor's Community Arts Grant from the city of New Haven (2011, 2012, 2013). She has been an artist-in-residence at Montalvo Arts Center, an 2007 NEA Honorary Fellow at the Djerassi Resident Artists Program and was a 2005/06 Dance Theater Workshop Fresh Tracks artist-in-residence.

Her work has been shown in New York City at The Austrian Cultural Forum's Moving Sounds Festival, Arts For Art, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop (NYLA), 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, and Movement Research at the Judson Church. In New Haven at the Yale University Art Gallery, International Festival of Arts and Ideas, Artspace New Haven. Rachel has been presented 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 which ran from 2010-2016.

Rachel has been a visiting assistant professor at Trinity College, department of Theater and Dance and a guest artist at Rutgers University, Mason Gross School of the Arts, Dartmouth College, Miami Dade College (MDC Live Arts Lab), Yale University, Wesleyan University, The New School, Texas Woman's University and Connecticut College. She is on faculty at Movement Research, and in Moscow, Russia as a teaching artist for the Moscow Dance Agency Tsekh Summer Dance Festival. She was on the dance faculty at The Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) high school from 2011-2014. Rachel maintains a private practice in the Alexander Technique. 

Other choreographers and artists she's worked with include Bronwen MacArthur, Pamela Newell, Emily Coates, Fischerspooner, RoseAnne Spradlin, Juliette Mapp, Risa Jaroslow and Dancers, Urban Bush Women, 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). She serves on the curatorial advisory board of Artspace in New Haven. 

Rachel holds an MFA in Dance from New York University Tisch School of the Arts, a BA in English Literature from Macalester College and a national teaching certification in the Alexander Technique, M.AmSAT.

Find Me On …

Additional Links: 
2018. Artspace New Haven commission. An excerpt of the experimental documentary film of my current project: I Know You So Well, A Sound and Movement Choir For People Who Work in Healthcare. Directed by Justice Nnanna
2017. Movement Research at the Judson Church. A duet with vocalist Kyoko Kitamura
2017. Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT. An improvisational performance and installation created and performed by Rachel Bernsen and Megan Craig in conjunction with their exhibition: Small-Great Objects: Anni & Josef Albers in the Americas
2015/16. Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim, Neuenhaus, Germany. A performance/installation in collaboration with visual artist Megan Craig

I Have Worked With

  • December 2019

    Rachel Kauder Nalebuff is an experimental playwight and writer and co-creator of my current project, I Know You So Well, A Sound and Movement Choir for People Who Work in Healthcare. Our first iteration of this project was in 2018, a commission from Artspace New Haven. We are currently researching and developing the project through 2020 and will premiere the final work in New Haven, CT early 2021. After its premiere we will travel to work in residence with other communities of healthcare professionals and care-givers throughout New England and the region, creating multiple iterations of our project. ,

  • December 2019

    I will be a 2020 artist-in-residence at the Karl Kemp Performance Space at the Balance Arts Center in New York City. Rehearsals and performances will take place in May 2020. Dates TBA.

  • November 2019

    Dancer in the reconstruction of Rainer's seminal work from 1965, Parts of Some Sextets. Never captured on film and performed only twice: at the Wadsworth Atheneum and The Judson Church, Rainer and Emily Coates have been commissioned by Performa to reconstruct/reimagine the work from archival materials including charts, photographs and journals. Upcoming Performa performances in November 2019. Dates TBA,


  • NEFA Grantee
  • Artist

Contact Information

First Name: 
Job Title/Position: 
Choreographer, performer, educator, certified Alexander Technique teacher
Physical Address: 
Erector Square 319 Peck Street C-7
New Haven, CT 06513
Last Name: 


Profile Type: 
Primary Discipline: 
Dance - Modern / Contemporary
Additional Disciplines: 
Populations Served: 
General Public
Institution/Business Type: 
Artist (Individual)
Activities and Services: 
Arts in Healthcare
Creation of a Work of Art (Including Commissions)
Performance / Concert / Reading
Public Art Projects (In Free, Public Spaces)
Residency - Community
Residency - In School
Residency - Production / Development
Residency - Other
Workshops / Demonstrations / Master Class
Events Per Year: 
Seasons Active: 
Geographic Reach: 
Town / City
Multi-State Region

Affiliations and Accomplishments

Professional Associations: 
Movement Research Faculty
Artspace Curatorial advisory board
M.F.A Dance, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
BA English, Macalester College, St. Paul, MN
Nationally certified Alexander Technique Teacher, M.AmSAT from The American Center for Alexander Technique, NYC
New England Dance Fund Grantee/Alum Network
Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant
2020 Artist-In-Residence, Karl Kemp Performance Space, Balance Arts Center
Resident Guest Artist, Montalvo Arts Center
New Haven Dept of Arts and Culture Artist Grant (2011 & 2012)
Djerassi Resident Artist Program, NEA Honorary Fellow
Fresh Tracks Artist Residency, Dance Theater Workshop
I am a NEFA Grant Recipient

I am a Touring Artist

Technical Requirements: 
Fee Range Minimum: 
Fee Range Maximum: 
State of Residence: 
Minimum Number of Performers: 
Maximum Number of Performers: 

I am a Teaching Artist

Teaching Settings: 
Arts and Cultural Center / Venue
School / University
Subject Areas: 
Arts Integration - Health
Ages Served: 
High School-age
Certifications / Training: 
MFA in Dance, National Certification in Alexander Technique