Omomuki Performing Arts Fellowships are awarded to musicians to create, record, and perform original works of music, and to choreographers and dance companies to commission original music and its live performance.
Sonya is a New York City-based choreographer and director. She is one of two recipients of Omomuki’s New Music for Dance grants, which will fund the commissioning and live performance of original music for an upcoming work to premier at the Joyce Theater this fall. Sonya has received two Emmy nominations for Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” a Tony nomination for her work in Moulin Rouge! on Broadway, a Drama Desk Award and two Lucille Lortel Awards for Outstanding Choreography, and an Obie Award. She has directed and choreographed for world renowned music artists including Miley Cyrus, Florence and the Machine, and Kyle Minogue.
Ni’Ja Whitson is a Los Angeles-based choreographer, interdisciplinary artist and writer. They are one of two recipients of Omomuki’s New Music for Dance grants, which will fund the commissioning and live performance of original music for an upcoming work to premier at New York Live Arts. Ni’Ja has been a student and practitioner of indigenous African ritual and resistance forms for two decades, creating work that reflects the sacred in street, conceptual, and interdisciplinary performance. They are the recipient of the Creative Capital and Bessie awards and a United States Artists 2021 Fellow. Ni’Ja is also an Assistant Professor at University of California Riverside.
Josh Evans is an American trumpeter and recipient of the 2020-2021 Omomuki Jazz Composition Grant. Josh studied as a teenager with Jackie McLean and Raymond Williams, and by the time he was 18 had performed with McLean at the Blue Note and Iridium. Josh is currently a member of Bobby Watson’s New Horizon, Christian McBride’s New Jawn, the David Murray Octet, the Victor Lewis Quintet, and the Louis Hayes sexet. He has five recordings as a leader and over 70 as a sideman. Four albums with his work as a sideman have been nominated for Grammys.
Ayodele Casel was described by Gregory Hines as “one of the top young tap dancers in the world.” She is a native New Yorker and a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and of The William Esper Studio. Casel has has been creating and presenting her own works since 1999 and has performed at New York City Center, The White House, Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and Madison Square Garden. She is the recipient of the 2017 Hoofer Award and of the 2018-2019 Artist in Residence at Harvard University; was named one of The New York Times’ Biggest Breakout Starts of 2019; and is a 2019-2020 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. The Omomuki grant funded the creation of her original work “Oscar Joy,” which premiered at the 2020 (virtual) Fire Island Dance Festival.
Michelle Dorrance, Dorrance Dance
Michelle Dorrance is a New York City-based tap dancer and choreographer, and founder of Dorrance Dance. The Omomuki grant funds Michelle’s original work Destination Moon, which premiered at the 2019 Fire Island Dance Festival with Dorrance Dance and former New York City Ballet principal dancer Robbie Fairchild. She is a 2018 Doris Duke Artist, 2018 Capezio Award winner, 2017 Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellow, 2016-17 New York City Center Choreography Fellow, 2016 United States Artists Award recipient, 2015 MacArthur Fellow, 2014 Alpert Award winner, 2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award winner, 2012 Princess Grace Award winner, 2012 Field Dance Fund recipient, and 2011/2015 Bessie Award winner.
Jeffrey Cirio, Cirio Collective
Cirio Collective, founded by American Ballet Theatre principal and choreographer Jeffrey Cirio and Boston Ballet Principal Lia Cirio, was created in the summer of 2015 to explore and develop new choreography. The Omomuki grant funds in part Jeffrey Cirio’s original work Tornerai?, the world premier of which was performed at the 2018 Fire Island Dance Festival. Cirio Collective has performed at Vineyard Arts Project, Cape Dance Festival, Hudson Valley Dance Festival, Dance at Socrates, and the Joyce Theater. Jeffrey has received the Jadin Wong Award of the Asian American Arts Alliance and Joffrey Academy’s 6th Annual Winning Works Choreographic Competition. He has been commissioned to choreograph works for Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and the Joyce Theater.
Alexandre Hammoudi & Manuel Vignoulle, Makers Dance Company
Makers Dance Company was founded in 2017 by American Ballet Theater (ABT) soloist Alexandre Hammoudi. It is currently comprised of members of ABT Corps de Ballet dancers from China, France, Japan, and Korea. Makers Dance Company is combining the beauty and bravado of ballet with modern ideas and movement. Its repertoire is inspired by historical tales, fictional stories, and non-fictional events. The Omomuki Foundation commissioned Makers Dance Company’s inaugural work Tatakai, which was choreographed by Manuel Vignoulle and premiered at the 2017 Fire Island Dance Festival in New York.
Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists
A native of Taiwan, Ms. Sheu is a former Principal Dancer for Martha Graham Dance Company. The Omomuki grant funded Ms. Sheu’s July 2016 Creation Week in Taipei, which brought together twelve dancers from Taiwan, China, Korean, and Mongolia and resulted in performances in November 2016 at Beijing’s National Performing Arts Center. She has been praised by the New York Times as the finest present-day embodiment of Martha Graham’s technique and tradition. She has received numerous awards including the 2005 President’s Order of Brilliant Star (Taiwan), the 2007 National Award for the Arts (Taiwan), and Ballettanz Magazine’s 2008 Outstanding Female Dancer. She was the first Asian artist-in-residency at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. She is the founder of Fang-Yi Sheu & Artists.
Mr. Nishihara is a sound designer, sculptor, and performer whose artwork and sound performances have been presented in Japan, South Korea, and Germany. Mr. Nishihara finished his undergraduate studies as a sound engineer. When he entered the M.F.A. program at Tokyo University of the Arts, he met Phil Niblock, a minimalist composer and multimedia musician, and the director of the avant-garde foundation Experimental Intermedia based in New York City. Since then, Mr. Nishihara has been integrating sound and sculptural objects. The Omomuki grant, administered through the Asian Cultural Council, will enable Mr. Nishihara to work with the 82-year-old Niblock to further explore sound and interdisciplinary media.