Mariko Endo at Rehearsal for Trinity Movement Choir "Humankind"

Trinity Movement Choir's Canadian Connection

The cast of Trinity Movement Choir for Thursday night’s presentation of “Humankind” includes six persons who were excited enough about the event to come to New York City from Canada to rehearse and dance onsite. They had the option of recording their performances, as did more than half the cast because of either geographical distance or COVID-19 concerns, but decided they wanted to be inside St. Paul’s Chapel for the sacred dance.

Debbie Danbrook
Debbie Danbrook, one of the Canadians who have come to New York City to present "Humankind," composed the score for the sacred dance.

Debbie Danbrook is not only dancing. She composed the score for “Humankind.”

“I am coming for many reasons,” Danbrook explained. ”It will be the premiere of my score at a live performance, and what a joy that will be to see the dancers moving to the music of my heart.

“Secondly, to be part of the healing light we will be sharing with all of humankind through our moving meditation. And thirdly for the joy of renewal of friendships in person instead of on Zoom.”

“There are six of us coming from Canada, four who participated in the in-person portion of the 2021 offering,” said Wendy Morrell, referring to the section of “Humankind” that was recorded in Ottawa because COVID-19 protocols were less restrictive than in the U.S.

Morrell, who is president of the Sacred Dance Guild, set up that rehearsal and video recording at Bells Corners United Church, an arrangement which Marilyn Green, founder and director of Trinity Movement Choir, considers almost miraculous.

“We had no rehearsal space available because of the COVID-19 restrictions,” Green said. “So, there was no way we were going to take this very complex dance that requires about three months of rehearsal and present it.”  

Trinity Movement Choir Rehearsal for "Humankind"
Wendy Morrell rehearses the role of "gatekeeper," initially blocking refugees from joining the community.

With the video recording of the in-person dancers at the church in Canada, Green had what was needed to present “Humankind,” first to the meeting of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Two months later, in December 2021, the performance was streamed on the website of Trinity Church Wall Street.

“Humankind” at St. Paul’s Chapel, with 40 dancers (17 in person) and an in-person audience, the first performance of its kind at the chapel in almost three years, represents a milestone. While that explains part of the motivation for the Canadian contingent, even more powerful for them is the theme of the sacred dance.

“I think Humankind shows us the hopelessness that many people feel, juxtaposed against the ignorance, or perhaps the obliviousness, of the privileged—but it also shows us the possibility that we—as people on the planet at this time in our collective journey—can recognize the oneness and connectedness that is always there, if we choose to open our hearts and see and respond to it,” said Morrell.

Trinity Movement Choir Rehearsal for "Humankind"
Rosalind Reid on left, rehearsing the role of refugee, asking to be included in the community.

Rosalind Reid is one of the dancers who recorded sections of “Humankind” in the church gymnasium in Ottawa.

“I found this very meaningful and relevant with what is going on in our world these days,” Reid said. “I wanted to bring my many years of dance experience and compassion to this piece. It is an honor.”

Over the past several months, headlines have been dominated with stories of the plight of asylum-seekers being bused or flown hundreds of miles from the U.S. southern border to large cities, including New York. 

Trinity Movement Choir Rehearsal for "Humankind"
In "Humankind" the red cloth represents the community in which all are eventually welcomed and nurtured.

In addition to Danbrook, Morrell, and Reid, the other dancers who came to New York from Canada are Pat Fisher, Clarice Gervais, and Debbie Donaldson, and the irony of the moment is not lost on them.

They crossed an international border with relative ease. Now they’re in New York to produce “Humankind,” a sacred dance that reminds its audience of how difficult such crossings are for the vast majority of people in the world, traveling without resources and privilege. 

“Kindness and humanity are being challenged these days,” said Reid. “My hope is that the audience will leave with more generous actions of how they can be agents of change, with love in their hearts. I hope the live production will be a cause for change.”

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