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Susquehanna Life

Weis Center to Offer Free Virtual Performance to Honor Front Line Workers

Feb 10, 2021 03:32PM ● By Erica Shames
The Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell University will offer a virtual performance of This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines created by DIAVOLO dance company from February 24-March 2. The contemporary dance film performance is 35 minutes and will be available on an unlimited basis throughout the viewing period.

The engagement is sponsored, in part, by Evangelical Community Hospital and Geisinger.

The virtual performance is free thanks to the generosity of sponsors, but registration is required by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000 or online at Bucknell.edu/BoxOffice.

The performance is dedicated to all of the veterans for their service, commitment and sacrifice and to all of our COVID-19 first responders for their dedication, selflessness, resilience and heroism.

PRE-PERFORMANCE PANEL DISCUSSION
Patrons are encouraged to view a 30 minute pre-taped pre-performance panel discussion with the following distinguished guests:
  • Jacques Heim, Founder & Artistic Director, DIAVOLO | Architecture in Motion ®
  • France Nguyen Vincent, Writer and dramaturg of This Is Me
  • David Rovnyak, Bucknell University Professor of Chemistry and Bucknell/Geisinger liaison
  • Marie C. Pizzorno, Bucknell University Associate Professor of Biology and Cell Biology/Biochemistry
  • Frederick Weiss, MD, DPT, RMSK, Geisinger
  • Kendra Aucker, President & CEO, Evangelical Community Hospital
  • B. James Connolly, MD, Medical Director of Emergency Services, Evangelical Community Hospital
The panelists discuss the origins and process of filming This is Me, the mental, physical and emotional impacts of COVID-19 on front line workers in Central PA, and the history of the development of the COVID-19 vaccines, among other riveting topics.

Jacques Heim says of the pandemic, “As artists, we had to do something. For me, it’s not about creating another dance piece, but rather celebrating the amazing men and women who sacrifice themselves for us.”

France Nguyen Vincent says, “Each person in the film was asked to write about themselves and their experience. Ninety-eight percent of what you hear in the performance was written [by first responders and front line workers] and was untouched…it became a catharsis for them.”

Kendra Aucker says, “The volumes of people we’re caring for compared to normal is significant. This is something no one can imagine and no one can prepare for. The mental health challenges are showing up in the workforce, and COVID has revealed the tremendous problems that we have with access to behavioral health services for all people…especially in healthcare. We ask ourselves daily how are our people doing [and how can we support them].”  

Dr. Fred Weiss says, “[COVID has hit every aspect of health and wellness]…physical, emotional, mental, moral, spiritual, social. The toll that it’s taken on a lot of friends and family…I’ve had friends who have died. A lot of the people who have contracted the disease are the front line people; the front line are dying. They are literally putting their lives at risk on a minute to minute basis…”

Dr. James Connolly says, “This is not the same as combat, but it has a similar feel. This has probably been the hardest thing I can imagine doing as a physician. There have been a lot of people in the community who have been tremendously supportive, but there have been a lot of people who haven’t and that has been so hard to deal with…Trying to convince people that this is real and we need to take it serious.”

Professor Marie C. Pizzorno says, “This is the third novel coronavirus to have jumped from animal species to humans in the last twenty years. This new virus is much more contagious. Bats maintain a population of their own coronaviruses and some have the capacity to jump to humans.” Pizzorno notes that the COVID-19 vaccines in development build on decades of coronavirus research by scientists across the globe.

PERFORMANCE
This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines is a dance film exploring how the current climate of isolation has encouraged us to look within ourselves. We follow the paths of military veterans and first responders as they share what it means to be a true warrior - to be on the front lines - and fight the invisible enemy that all humanity is currently battling. At a time when most have been asked to halt and withdraw, others, like soldiers, are charging forward.

This is Me: Letters From the Front Lines captures the resilience, determination and hope of the human spirit.

DIAVOLO is a creative movement production company that pushes the envelope of innovation by creating unique live & cinematic experiences. Using custom-made architectural structures, DIAVOLO intersects storytelling, movement and architecture with an inventive and visceral approach.

The virtual performance is free thanks to the generosity of sponsors, but registration is required by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000 or online at Bucknell.edu/BoxOffice.

For more information about this Weis Center Stream and others, go to Bucknell.edu/WeisCenter or search for the Weis Center on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

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