Prosthetic Limbs & A 1-Man Salsa Band

The small band of artists and admirers who piled into a little room at the Erector Square watched three beautifully-paced, modern works of art that weren’t quite finished yet. That was part of the point.

First they viewed excerpts from a documentary about the arts—and how prosthetic limbs inspire one Bridgeport-based artist. Next, a silent dance duet with a chimpanzee mask thrown in. And finally, a one-man salsa band with some new sounds and homemade instruments. (Click on the video above to watch a sample of the performances.)

Those performances Sunday evening were three acts in the latest installment of Rachel Bernsen and Carl Testa’s “Take Your Time” series.

The “Take Your Time” series aims to showcase artists who push normal boundaries—dancing using only the sound of feet and heavy breathing as background music might be an example—and aren’t afraid to show works in progress.

The performances were the fourth installment of the series, which takes place once every season and started in Spring 2010. The series takes place in The Big Room, a room in Erector Square that Bernsen founded when she moved from New York City to New Haven three years ago.

Bernsen now has her own dance studio there and works to attract local and New York-based artists to perform.

“It’s been very, very true that we didn’t need to rely on New York City for our artistic practices,” said Bernsen, who received a 2011-12 Mayor’s Community Arts Grant from New Haven.

“Your eyes were the first eyes to see this other than mine and [dancer Marilyn Maywald] and my cat,” said Melanie Maar, a dancer in New York City who choreographed and co-performed “Same Selves.” A safe space to perform unfinished works is crucial for artists, she said: “Rachel knows what artists need.”

The documentary “COMPLETE IN ITSELF?” by local filmmakers Tiffany Hopkins and Denise Santisteban is set to be completed next spring. Click here to watch the trailer and excerpt that were shown Sunday night.

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