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Jerome Robbins Foundation to Develop Dance-Driven Musical Theater in CT and NYC

Jerome Robbins Foundation to Develop Dance-Driven Musical Theater in CT and NYC

The Jerome Robbins Foundation introduces the The Springboard Project: Fostering Collaboration in Dance-Driven Musical Theater.

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

Here in the Bright Colorado Sun, led by Susan Misner (co-director, choreographer) and Jonathan Bernstein (co-director, writer) will be in residence at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT from May 15 - June 2, 2017. Camile A. Brown (Director/Choreographer), Talvin Wilks (Dramaturg), Scott Patterson (Composer), and Allison Miller (Music Director) will develop their currently untitled new work through a residency at Baryshnikov Arts Center in New York, NY from July 24 - August 8, 2017.

The Springboard Project was borne out of an extensive inquiry, led by Project 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, we 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 The Springboard Project 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.

Moving forward, The Springboard Project aims to foster the continued development of the selected projects, in partnership with not-for-profit theaters, with the eventual goal of mainstage production. The Robbins Foundation 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.

The selected projects were vetted through a competitive application process and were reviewed by a professional panel that included J. Michael Friedman, Liza Gennaro, Robert Lee, Janice Paran, Ted Sperling, and Sergio Trujillo.

In addition to the leadership of the Jerome Robbins Foundation, The Springboard project is made possible with the generous support of the Frederick Loewe Foundation, Geraldine Stutz Trust, Howard Gilman Foundation, and Barbara Slifka.

The Jerome Robbins Foundation is led by Christopher Pennington (Executive Director), Allen Greenberg and Ellen Sorrin.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS:

Camille A. Brown (Untitled Camille Brown Project: Choreographer) is a four time Princess Grace Award winner (2016 Statue Award, 2016 Choreographic Mentorship Co-Commission Award, 2013 Works in Progress Residency Award, 2006 Choreography Award), 2016 Jacob's Pillow Dance Award recipient, 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, 2015 USA Jay Franke & David Herro Fellow, 2015 TED Fellow, 2015 Doris Duke Artist Award recipient, and was nominated for the 2015 Lucille Lortel "Outstanding Choreographer" Award (Fortress of Solitude). Her company, Camille A. Brown & Dancers, received a 2014 Bessie Award for Outstanding Production for Mr. TOL E. RAncE and a 2016 Bessie Award nomination for Outstanding Production for BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play. She is currently developing a new work, ink, that will premiere at The Kennedy Center in December. Ms. Brown's work has been commissioned by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Philadanco!, Complexions, and Urban Bush Women, among others. Her theater credits include Broadway's A Streetcar Named Desire, The Winter's Tale, Fortress of Solitude, Stagger Lee, Cabin in the Sky, tick, tick...BOOM!, and BELLA: An American Tall Tale, among others. Ms. Brown's TED-Ed talk "A Visual History of Social Dance in 25 Moves" was chosen as one of the most notable talks of 2016 by TED Curator, Chris Anderson, and has over 11 million views on Facebook and counting. She is the choreographer for the upcoming Broadway revival of Once on This Island. www.camilleabrown.org

Talvin Wilks (Untitled Camille Brown Project: Dramaturg) is a playwright, director and dramaturg. His plays include Tod, the Boy, Tod; The Trial of Uncle S&M; Bread of Heaven; and An American Triptych. Directorial projects include the world premiere productions of Eyewitness Blues, by Mildred Ruiz and Steven Sapp (New World Theater/New York Theatre Workshop), UDU by Sekou Sundiata (651Arts/BAM), The Love Space Demands by Ntozake Shange (Crossroads), No Black Male Show/Pagan Operetta by Carl Hancock Rux (Joe's Pub/The Kitchen), Banana Beer Bath by Lynn Nottage, (Going to the River Festival/EST), the Obie Award/AUDELCO Award winning The Shaneequa Chronicles by Stephanie Berry (Ensemble Studio Theatre), Relativity by Cassandra Medley (Ensemble Studio Theatre - AUDELCO nomination for Best Director 2006) and On the Way to Timbuktu by Petronia Paley (Ensemble Studio Theatre - AUDELCO nomination for Best Director 2008). He has served as co-writer/dramaturg for ten productions in Ping Chong's ongoing series of Undesirable Elements, and dramaturg for four collaborations with the Bebe Miller Company, Necessary Beauty, Going to the Wall, the Bessie Award winning, Verge, and Landing/Place for which he received a 2006 Bessie Award for Dramaturgy.

Scott Patterson (Untitled Camille Brown Project: Composer) is a pianist and composer of incomparable talent. Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewdescribes Patterson's playing as, "a masterly blend of virtuosity, singing style and beautiful voicing."His blend of classical, soul and rock music is futuristic, emotive and luxuriant. Since 2012 Patterson has toured with Camille A. Brown & Dancers. He is a contributing composer of the Bessie award winning Mr. TOL E. RAncE and Brown's critically acclaimed work, BLACK GIRL: Linguistic Play. Patterson's work extends beyond dance. He is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Afro House (afrohouse.org), a music-driven performance art house based in Baltimore, MD. At the center of Afro House stands the Astronaut Symphony, a contemporary music ensemble that creates symphonic performance art pieces, such as Patterson's sci-fi tone poem Ebon Kojo: The Last Tribe. As a music director he worked closely with award-winning playwright Marcus Gardley during the Williamstown Theatre Festival and served as music director for a production of Dan Dietz's Clementine in the Lower 9. He has also worked with Tony Award winning music director and composer Daryl Waters at the Dallas Theater Center. His acting credits include the role of Duke Ellington in Tom Minter's Blues for a Royal Flush, as Chorus in Dan Dietz's Clementine in the Lower 9 and General Ebon Kojo in Ebon Kojo: The Last Tribe. As a Piano Performance major Patterson studied under Richard Fields at the University of Cincinnati's College-Conservatory of Music and Phillip Kawin at the Manhattan School of Music.

Allison Miller (Untitled Camille Brown Project: Music Director) NYC-based drummer/composer/teacher Allison Miller engages her deep roots in improvisation as a vehicle to explore all music. Described by critics as a charismatic and rhythmically propulsive drummer with melodic sensibility, Miller has been named "Top 20 Jazz Drummers" in Downbeat Magazine. Her band, Boom Tic Boom, is a 2014 recipient of Chamber Music America's "Presenter Consortium for Jazz Grant" and is proudly sponsored by Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation. As a side-musician, Miller has been the rhythmic force behind such artists as Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant, Brandi Carlile, Toshi Reagon, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Patricia Barber, Marty Ehrlich, Ben Allison, the Meredith Vieira Show, and Late Night with Seth Meyers. She is the musical director of Speak, And Still You Must Swing, and Celebrate and co-leads Honey Ear Trio and Holler and Bam. Allison teaches at the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in NYC and endorses Yamaha drums, Zildjian cymbals, Vic Firth heads, and Evans drumheads.

Susan Misner (Here in the Bright Colorado Sun: Choreographer, Co-director) currently plays Dr. Nora White in Hulu's upcoming new tv project Shut Eye. Most recently, she appeared as Sandra Beeman on FX's The Americans, and Terri McCue on Showtime's Billions. A dance play that she co-conceived entitled The Shape She Makes (for which she received the Elliot Norton Award for Best Choreography) received its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater in the Spring of 2014. She is the veteran of four Broadway musicals: Guys And Dolls, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, and Dream. She has appeared in many films including Chicago (for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award), Hope Springs, The Forgotten, The Hoax, Walking On The Sky (Best Supporting Actress Award, New York International Independent Film Festival), Something's Gotta Give, Somebody's Hero, Everybody Says I Love You and last year's Being Charlie directed by Rob Reiner. Upcoming: Assassination Nation, currently filming in New Orleans. A long list of guest-starring credits on TV such as multiple appearances on all three series of the Law & Order franchise, as well as both CSI shows, Nashville (recurring), The Blacklist, Gotham, Banshee, The Following, Person Of Interest (recurring), The Good Wife (recurring), In Treatment (recurring), Without A Trace(recurring), Rescue Me (recurring), Blue Bloods, Sex In The City, Elementary, NCIS, White Collar, Royal Pains, Fringe, and she portrayed Gretchen Martin in the miniseries The Bronx Is Burning opposite John Turturro.

Jonathan Bernstien (Here in the Bright Colorado Sun: Writer, Co-Director) Jonathan's plays and musicals have been produced all over the country; most recently, he wrote and directed The Shape She Makes (developed with choreographer Susan Misner) which received its world premiere at the A.R.T. in Cambridge. Directing credits include material at the Atlantic Theater Company, Signature Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, New York Stage & Film, Joe's Pub, Ensemble Studio Theater and many others. He has worked at New York's City Center, Manhattan Theatre Club, Second Stage Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Public Theater, and 52nd Street Project, where he writes, directs and teaches. He participated in NYC's 24 Hour Musicals Benefit, writing an original musical with composer Jeanine Tesori between the hours of 11:00pm and 5:45am. This was his second time writing a musical for the charity; the first time he was paired with composer David Yazbek. He is the Artistic Director of The Performing Arts Project (an international arts training program for ages 16-24), he helped create the National Musical Theater Institute at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and is a professor of Playwriting and Script Analysis in the Graduate Musical Theater Writing Program at NYU. Plus, he is a New York Mets fan which - like anything difficult - is fundamentally worthwhile.

Mara Isaacs (Springboard Project Director) is a creative producer and founder of Octopus Theatricals, a theatrical producing and consulting company dedicated to fostering an expansive range of compelling theatrical works for local, national and international audiences. Recognized as a field leader in new play and musical development, Mara has produced over 100 productions on and off-Broadway, across the US and internationally. Current projects include Hadestown, Theatre for One, A Festival of the Arts celebrating the opening of Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts, and many others. Mara was Producing Director at McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ (1995-2013) and previously produced new play development programs and productions for Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles (1990-1995). She currently serves on the board of the Dramatists Legal Defense Fund and Tofte Lake Center. www.octopustheatricals.com

Jerome Robbins Foundation: Jerome Robbins established the Foundation in 1958 with the intent to support dance, theater, and their associative arts. The Foundation supports dance and theater companies, presenting organizations, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and created initiatives such as the Floria V. Lasky Symposium and the Springboard Project to support the field of the performing arts and the issues challenging its mission to remain an integral part of life in our ever-changing times. www.jeromerobbins.org

Eugene O'Neill Theater Center (Residency Host) Founded in 1964, the O'Neill is the country's preeminent organization dedicated to the development of new works and new voices for the American theater, and been home to more than 1,000 new works for the stage and thousands more emerging artists. Scores of projects developed at the O'Neill have gone on to full production at theaters around the world. The O'Neill is the recipient of two Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts for its contributions to American culture, and named in honor of Eugene O'Neill, four-time Pulitzer Prize-winner and America's only playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. O'Neill programs include the National Playwrights Conference, National Music Theater Conference, National Critics Institute, National Puppetry Conference, Cabaret & Performance Conference, and National Theater Institute - which offers six credit-earning undergraduate training programs. In addition, the O'Neill owns and operates Monte Cristo Cottage as a museum open to the public. www.theoneill.org

Baryshnikov Arts Center (BAC) (Residency Host) is the realization of a long-held vision by artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov who sought to build an arts center in Manhattan that would serve as a gathering place for artists from all disciplines. BAC's opening in 2005 heralded the launch of this mission, establishing a thriving creative laboratory and performance space for artists from around the world. BAC's activities encompass a robust residency program augmented by a range of professional services, including commissions of new work, as well as the presentation of performances by artists at varying stages of their careers. In tandem with its commitment to supporting artists, BAC is dedicated to building audiences for the arts by presenting contemporary, innovative work at affordable ticket prices. For more information, visit www.bacnyc.org.

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