Ballet Inspired by Grief Center Premieres

Photo by Eric Rosé
Photo by Eric Rosé

By Steve Sucato

Bodiography Contemporary Ballet artistic director Maria Caruso’s dance works have always come from a caring place. But the latest in her string of health-care-related dance works, Whispers of Light, literally comes from the Caring Place.

The poignant work is set to an original score by Carnegie Mellon University professor of composition Nancy Galbraith that’s performed live by a 13-piece orchestra. It was inspired by stories of loss from children at Highmark’s Caring Place, a center for grieving children, adolescents and their families.

Whispers of Light, which premieres with two performances this weekend, weaves together nine vignettes telling of loss, hope and caring into a 70-minute ballet performed by 18 dancers along with 14 children from the Caring Place.

As with her prior health-care-related works (such as 2010’s Heart (Function vs. Emotion)), choreographer Caruso immersed herself in the subject matter. This time, she attended portions of the Caring Place’s 10-week program, learning how the volunteer staff help those suffering from loss.

“I wanted [the ballet] to tell the story of the Caring Place through the transformation of volunteer workers into symbols of hope,” says Caruso.

Caruso also incorporates into the ballet gestures and movement phrases culled and created from her interactions with the children whose stories helped inspire the ballet.

Says Caruso: “Whispers is a testament to the power of human connection and a tribute to good work done at the Caring Place.”

Bodiography Contemporary Ballet performs Whispers of Light at 8 p.m. Fri., Feb. 22, and 8 p.m. Sat., Feb. 23, at the Byham TheaterTickets are $26.95-100. Call 412-456-6666 or see

This article first appeared February 21, 2013. Copyright Steve Sucato.

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