Project Springboard Announces Winners of Second Annual Residency Awards

Mara Isaacs, Director of Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals, today announced the recipients of the second annual residency awards: Bhangin' It, led by Rehana Mirza (co-book writer), Mike Lew (co-book writer), Sam Wilmott (composer/lyricist), Rujuta Vaidya (choreographer), and Amy Anders Corcoran (director); and The Night Falls, led by Troy Schumacher (director/choreographer, New York City Ballet soloist), Ellis Ludwig-Leone (composer/co-lyricist), and Karen Russell (book writer/co-lyricist, MacArthur Award winner and Pulitzer finalist). Both projects will be in residence June 4-22, 2018 in New York City.

Bhangin' It draws inspiration from the high-stakes world of intercollegiate competitive bhangra - a traditional Indian folk dance morphed into a good ole American dance-off. The story follows a biracial student, Mary, who gets kicked off her bhangra team for not being "Indian enough". When she forms a team of her own, cultural authenticity and cultural pluralism are set on a collision course in this brash, intoxicating and gripping new musical.

In The Night Falls, the Sirens' call lures three strangers to a mysterious Florida grotto, where they await celestial revelations. Mythical and unexpected, The Night Falls asks if art and community can successfully combat loneliness, despair and nihilism.

Launched in 2017 and designed to encourage collaborations in which choreography plays an integral part in the conception and creation of new musical projects, Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals provides a fully-supported, multi-week development residency for two creative teams in the early conceptual stages of a new musical.

Ellen Sorrin, a director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation, explained, "Jerome Robbins made choreography central to the narrative of the shows he choreographed by being part of the creative process from the earliest stage of its development. The Jerome Robbins Foundation initiated Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals to support creative teams in giving choreography a central role in the crafting of new musicals."

"We have seen the role of choreography recede in the development of many new musicals in recent years, and so we have designed Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals to provide the inspiration and resources to help address this gap," says Isaacs. "We're pleased to be able to support the selected projects, whose teams are creating refreshing and original theatrical stories, all with dance at the center."

Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals was born out of an extensive inquiry, led by Director Mara Isaacs and the Jerome Robbins Foundation, into the role that choreographers play in the conception and development of new musicals. Overwhelmingly, in the two-year study, they heard from directors, choreographers, composers, lyricists and book writers that while there is a genuine appetite for developing dance-driven musicals, there are limited avenues available to independent artists to develop these labor-intensive collaborations. It was out of these conversations that Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals was created to 1) encourage collaborations that incorporate choreographic and directorial ideas at conception, 2) develop the work with dance fully integrated into the story-telling, and 3) address the existing financial and practical obstacles to developing those ideas in early stages of development.

Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals aims to foster the continued development of the selected projects, in partnership with not-for-profit theaters, with the eventual goal of mainstage production. With additional support from the Jerome Robbins Foundation, Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals will continue to nurture projects in their early stages to create a pipeline of new dance-driven musicals into the not-for-profit theater community. Previously awarded projects include Untitled created by Camille A. Brown, and Here In the Bright Colorado Sun created by Susan Misner and Jonathan Bernstein.

The 2018 projects were vetted through a competitive application process and were reviewed by a professional panel that included Diane Borger, Ken Cerniglia, Liza Gennaro, Joseph V. Melillo, Janice Paran, Shanta Thake, and Sergio Trujillo.

In addition to leadership support from the Jerome Robbins Foundation, Project Springboard: Developing Dance Musicals is made possible with the generous funding of the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, the Frederick Loewe Foundation, and the Geraldine Stutz Trust.

BIOS

BHANGIN' IT CREATIVE TEAM:

Rujuta Vaidya (choreographer, Bhangin' It) is a NY-based, globally recognized Bollywood choreographer and has been responsible for some of the biggest Bollywood musical extravaganzas in the Hollywood entertainment industry. With choreography credits that include the Academy Awards 2009 - John Legend and AR Rahman's Slumdog Millionaire performance, Britney Spears' The Circus tour, Black Eyed Peas' The End Tour, AR Rahman World Tour, Priyanka Chopra's "In My City," Sridevi's English Vinglish and the Disney-released Cheetah Girls 3 - One World, Ruj has emerged as a leading influence in the world of contemporary Bollywood dance. . While her training includes a rigorous study in the classical forms such as Kathak and Bharatnatyam, Rujuta has fine-tuned her skills under the tutelage of famed hip-hop choreographer Fatima Robinson (choreographer for Michael Jackson, Prince, Fergie, and Rihanna) and the legendary Bollywood choreographer Saroj Khan (Tezaab, Mr. India, Devdas, Taare Zameen Par, etc) to develop her own spin on Bollywood dance. Ruj is currently represented by Bloc Agency.

Rehana Lew Mirza's (co-book writer, Bhangin' It) plays include: Hatefuck (readings: New Group, Colt Coeur/WP, Ma-Yi, Primary Stages; 2017 Kilroy); Ladybits (readings: Playwrights Workshop at the Lark, upcoming: Local Lab); A People's Guide to History in the Time of Here and Now (workshops: Primary Stages, upcoming: PH School, Tisch); Soldier X (productions: Ma-Yi; Brooklyn College; 2015 Kilroy; NYSCA/Lark commission); Neighborhood Watch (NNPN/InterAct commission); Particles of Pakistan (E.S.T./Sloan commission); Lonely Leela (workshop prod: LPAC); Barriers (productions: Desipina, Asian American Theater Company). She shares a Mellon National Playwright residency with Mike Lew at Ma-Yi Theater and they are also artists in residence at La Jolla Playhouse where the two are commissioned. Additional honors: HBO Access Fellow, Colt Coeur artist residency, Lilly Award (Stacey Mindich "Go Write A Play"), Orchard Project, Rhinebeck Residency and 3R program for Bhangin' It (with collaborators Sam Willmott and Mike Lew), and a TCG/New Georges Fellowship. MFA: Columbia University; BFA: NYU Tisch.

Mike Lew's (co-book writer, Bhangin' It) plays include Teenage Dick (Ma-Yi at the Public, Artists Rep, and Perseverance productions; Public Studio, O'Neill, OSF workshops), Tiger Style! (Olney, Huntington, La Jolla Playhouse, and Alliance productions; O'Neill and CTG workshops), Bike America (Ma-Yi and Alliance productions), microcrisis (Ma-Yi, InterAct, and Next ACT Productions), Moustache Guys, and the book to the musical Bhangin' It. He is a Tony voter and Dramatists Guild Council member. Honors include a Mellon National Playwrights Residency at Ma-Yi and La Jolla Playhouse Artist-in-Residence (both with Rehana Lew Mirza); Lark Venturous and NYFA fellowships; and the PEN Emerging Playwright, Lanford Wilson, Helen Merrill, Heideman, and Kendeda awards. He is co-director of Ma-Yi Writers Lab. Education: Juilliard, Yale. Website: mikelew.com.

Sam Wilmott (composer/lyricist, Bhangin' It) is a New York City-based musical theater composer, lyricist and bookwriter whose other projects include Standardized Testing - The Musical!!!! (published by Playscripts); Yo, Vikings! (with lyricist Marcus Stevens, published by Samuel French); the mini-musical Scarlet Takes a Tumble; and additional lyrics for the stage adaptation of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Sam is the recipient of the Kleban Prize, a Jonathan Larson Grant, ASCAP Foundation Harold Adamson and Cole Porter Awards, the Fred Ebb Award, and others. As an educator, Sam currently works as a teaching artist with Lincoln Center's Songwriting in the Schools Program, and is a very proud contributing writer to the Korean children's language program, English Egg, for whom he has written over 140 songs. He's so excited to be part of Project Springboard with his Bhangin' It fam, as he loves dance musicals more than anything. For more information, visit SamWillmott.com.

Amy Anders Corcoran (director, Bhangin' It) currently works as the associate director on Escape to Margaritaville. She was the Resident Tour/Associate Director for Disney's Freaky Friday. Favorite directing/choreographing credits include: Unexpected Joy (Off-Broadway), 21 Chump Street (European Premiere), I Am My Own Wife (NYC site-specific production), Little Women, Mr. Burns, Crazy for You, Smokey Joe's Cafe, and Circle Mirror Transformation. Her work has been seen at American Conservatory Theatre, the Guthrie, and Goodspeed, Asolo Rep, and in London and Canada. Amy specializes in new works, and works for London's Aria Entertainment as the US Creative Associate and helps cultivate the festival From Page to Stage in London every year. Last summer, she directed four new musicals in the festival. Amy received the SDC Noël Coward Fellowship for Comedic Direction and holds a BA in Psychology with Honors from the University of Kansas and a MFA in Directing from Penn State University. Upcoming: Unexpected Joy, Southwark Playhouse, London.

THE NIGHT FALLS CREATIVE TEAM:

Troy Schumacher (director/choreographer, The Night Falls) is an American choreographer, dancer, and director living in New York, NY. His athletic aesthetic draws upon the artists he collaborates with to produce fresh, unexpected results. He is a soloist dancer with New York City Ballet and the founder of BalletCollective, an arts collective driven toward creating new ballet-based works that has been moving ballet forward since its inception in 2010. His work has been presented by New York City Ballet, Performa, Danspace Project, Guggenheim Works & Process, The Joyce Theater, the Savannah Music Festival, and NYU Skirball Center. He has collaborated with many artists including Jeff Koons, Thom Browne, Ken Liu, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, Maddie Ziegler, and David Salle. In addition to live performances, Schumacher has choreographed numerous art, fashion and commercial shoots, including works for Google, Sony PlayStation, Capezio, HP, Aritzia, CR Fashion Book, Tom Ford, and The New York Times.

Ellis Ludwig-Leone (composer/co-lyricist, The Night Falls) is a composer and songwriter active in New York City. He is the songwriter and bandleader for Brooklyn-based San Fermin, which has received critical praise from the likes of NPR, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Le Monde, Washington Post, Pitchfork, and CBC. In addition to his work with San Fermin, Ludwig-Leone has written for a wide variety of ensembles and soloists, including ACME, Alabama Symphony Orchestra, BalletCollective, Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Colorado Music Festival Orchestra, Decoda, Fifth House Ensemble, Hotel Elefant, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, JACK Quartet, Metropolis Ensemble, New York City Ballet, NOW Ensemble, wild Up, and harpist Lavinia Meijer. He was named the 2015 Composer-in-Residence for the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, and is a recipient of residencies from The MacDowell Colony, Banff Centre for the Arts, and the Við Djúpið music festival in Iceland. Karen Russell (book writer/co-lyricist, The Night Falls)

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