Alders’ Talent Haven Show Fuels Arts Programs

DAVID SEPULVEDA PHOTOSAfter watching a rousing dance performance of “Soul Sisters of the Past” at this year’s annual Talent Haven fundraiser at Co-op Arts and Humanities High School, New Haven school board member and event emcee Edward Joyner told the audience he was inspired to start a male version of the group: The Bengay Dancers.

Led by Morris Cove Alder Sal DeCola and the New Haven Board of Alders with the Shubert Theater, the event this past Wednesday was the fourth time board members and talent show participants joined forces to raise monies for Talent Haven, an arts scholarship program designed to give access and arts support to New Haven students through a variety of arts programs in the city. Last year’s scholarship recipients included Neighborhood Music SchoolMusic Haven, and Cooperative Arts & Humanities Interdistrict Magnet.

The showcase of talent of included music and dance performances “by people from all corners of New Haven, all stages of life and of all ages,” underscoring the vital role of the arts in New Haven, and, according to the schools’ Superintendent Garth Harries, “reminding us of how important creative expression is to the human spirit.”

Performing in the Co-op lobby and then again on stage with a broad variety of stringed instruments were members of Music Haven, which provides “free instruments, music lessons and leadership development to young people ages 6-18 from New Haven’s low income ‘Promise Zone’ neighborhoods.” According to Alder DeCola, the organization has ambitions of spreading its musical tentacles to underserved neighborhoods across the city, but funding presents an ongoing challenge. 

Co-op dancers Daesia DePriest and Laiyah Hamilton, choreographed by Taylor Brooks, displayed a broad range of interpretive dance movements …

…filled with a powerful elegance that hushed the audience.

Bringing their own brand of thunder (turn it up!) was the James Hillhouse High School Shades of Blue Dancers and Drumline. The perennial show-stoppers are one of the most sought-after performance groups in the state, combining percussive magic and jaw-dropping precision dance movement.

The Alliance for Children’s Theater (ACT), an independent, ethnically diverse Theater in the Community, provides multicultural theatrical opportunities for underserved audiences in Greater New Haven.

The troup performed a high spirited number from “Alice @ Wonderland.”

Performing “Soul Sisters of the Past,” a group calling themselves The Dance Moms of New Haven included Alders Jeanette Morrison of Dixwell and Tyisha Walker of West River, Career High Assistant Principal Mia Edmonds-Duff, East Rock Community Magnet School Assistant Principal Leslie DePreist and school truancy officer Michelle Edmonds-Sepulveda.

The group, fronted by Mia Edmonds-Duff, danced to a medley of classic R&B and soul tunes, shimmering their way through a variety of dance styles to the delight of the audience.

Ballet Haven and Fair Haven School presented a performances of “River” and “Glory” featuring ECA junior and Ballet Haven alumna Lousebeth Lopez and grade 8 ballet founding member and choreographer Yasmin Rivera.

The performers displayed their dancing bonafides interspersed with pensive, dramatic moments.

Fresh from their recent production at Wilbur Cross High School were members of the Drama Club, performing a medley of songs from Hairspray.

Dressed in its retro finest, the cast delivered on the modern musical classic with tunes like “Good Morning Baltimore” ...

…and “Cooties.”

Emcee Joyner urged each audience member to bring at least three friends to next year’s talent show. Despite ample seating availability for this year’s Talent Haven benefit, Alder Decola was undaunted. “We’ll be back again next year,” he said.

Donations to the Talent Haven program may be sent to: CAPA, c/o Talent Haven, 247 College St., New Haven, CT 06510.

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posted by: Adelaide on April 11, 2016  9:36am

This looks WONDERFUL!! Whoever organizes this really ought to put the word out next year!! I would have loved to have been there!!!! You must know how to use FB, make an event page and invite people!!!!

posted by: susanmccaslin on April 11, 2016  10:55am

Well— I just spent 20 splendid minutes watching all of this amazing talent. Thanks for adding the video so I could experience the talent and enthusiasm of the teachers, the students, the administration and everyone else.

posted by: Mnikesa on April 11, 2016  1:48pm

The dancers from BalletHaven enjoyed their opportunity to perform!  Here is a link to their full performance choreographed by their choreographers current BH member Yasmin and ECA junior/BH alum Jousebeth Lopez:

We invite you to keep up with the dancers at our website ( and to do the same with their student artist colleagues! So much talent is alive and growing and still waiting in this city at grassroots levels.  But you can do your part to pay it forward in your neighborhood—with the budding artists there!

posted by: Mary Brown on April 11, 2016  4:28pm

Those dance moms look fantastic! Great article! Love the pictures and video!