Broadway on Demand’s New Dance Series SHARE THE FLOOR Features Lainie Sakakura in Celebration of Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month

Lia Chang and Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Garth Kravits
Lia Chang and Lainie Sakakura. Photo by Garth Kravits

Updated May 7, 2021

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and I am celebrating with my dear friend, frequent collaborator and Broadway veteran, Lainie Sakakura on Broadway On Demand’s new, completely free, dance and social movement series, Share the Floor, created by Christopher Gattelli with Phil LaDuca, on May 6.
Pat Suzuki, Lainie Sakakura, Lia Chang and Ted Chapin at NAAP’s celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Flower Drum Song. Photo by Garth Kravits

The series launched on International Dance Day, hosted by Vasthy Mompoint and featured Richard Riaz Yoder (Hello, Dolly!: Shuffle Along…; On the Twentieth Century). I served as guest host for this episode and was delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with Lainie prior to her class which featured her Sakachez dance students. 

Share the Floor takes place every Thursday at 6:00 PM ET / 3:00 PM PT only on Broadway On Demand. Following each live class, Share the Floor will be available for viewing on demand.

2nd episode of Christopher Gatelli’s ‘Share the Floor’ with Lainie Sakakura and the Sakachez Students in Open Jar Studios which streamed on Broadway on Demand on May 6, 2021. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Share the Floor, conceived and created by Gattelli to showcase BIPOC choreographers and those from underrepresented populations in the dance world, is a free online program which provides both dance instruction and offers up-close-and-personal interviews with some of the brightest dancers, choreographers, and dance instructors working on Broadway and in the global entertainment industry. Each one-hour program begins with an interview with that day’s guest artist, followed by a live dance class led by that artist, and culminates in a short Q&A. Throughout each episode, participants will hear stories from the guest artist about their journey with the hope of passing along their knowledge in a personal way and inspiring through positive encouragement and mentorship. Classes will cover a range of abilities and styles.

Lainie Sakakura in rehearsal for Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Photo by Lia Chang

Lainie Sakakura is a writer, director, award-winning choreographer, educator and advocate for diversity and inclusion. She is the recipient of the 2015 Joe A. Callaway Award Outstanding Choreography for the Off Broadway show, RED EYE OF LOVE in collaboration with co-choreographer Alex Sanchez, directed by Ted Sperling. and a recipient of the 2002 Joseph Jefferson Award Best Choreography for DAMN YANKEES, Marriott Theatre in collaboration with director/co-choreographer David H. Bell. She was nominated for the 2003 Joseph Jefferson Award Best Choreography for HOT MIKADO, directed by David H. Bell.

She is  currently developing Corner of Bitter and Sweet, a musical adaptation of the New York Times Best Seller, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. Corner of Bitter and Sweet features a Book by Lainie Sakakura, and Music & Lyrics by Paul Fujimoto.

Darius de Haas, Spencer Jones, Avelina Sanchez, Kenny Ingram in Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Photo by Lia Chang
Lainie Sakakura, Darius de Haas, Kenny Ingram, Alex Sanchez and Jamie Ford after the reading of Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Photo by Lia Chang
The Company of Corner of Bitter and Sweet at Open Jar Studios. Photo by Lia Chang

Musical Theatre writing team Lainie Sakakura and Paul Fujimoto were awarded a residency in the 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals  to develop their new musical Corner of Bitter and Sweet in January 2020.

L to R: Jonathan Brielle, Clifford Lee Johnson III Lainie Sakakura, Paul Fujimoto and Donna Lynn Hilton at the 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura
The Class of 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals Residency recipients. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Lainie Sakakura and Paul Fujimoto To Develop CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET at 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals

She was a Dance Reconstructor for the 1999 Best Musical Tony Award winning show, FOSSE. Over a five year period worked countless hours with Gwen Verdon, Chet Walker, Bill Hastings, Brad Musgrove to meticulously recreate over 70 Bob Fosse numbers.  In 2005, Ms Sakakura was honored to recreate BIG SPENDER from the musical SWEET CHARITY featuring Chita Rivera and Ann Reinking for Cy Coleman’s Memorial at the Broadway’s Majestic Theatre.

Lainie Sakakura and the Company of FOSSE perform at The Tony Awards in 1999. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Ms Sakakura started as a concert dancer, training with San Francisco Ballet 9 years before joining BALLET HISPANICO as the youngest member at 18 years old.

In 1994 Sakakura became the second Asian Rockette following Setsuko Maruhashi hired in 1985.

Always one to love the creative process and working on shows from scratch, Ms Sakakura worked on dozens of original musicals over the years including Jimmy Buffett and Herman Wouk’s DON’T STOP THE CARNIVAL, Paul Blake’s ROMAN HOLIDAY. She co-choreographed CASPER The Musical starring Chita Rivera, and performed in the original cast of 6 Broadway shows: FOSSE (on stage dance captain, dance reconstruction, and featured in the duet FROM THIS MOMENT ON with Andy Blankenbuehler); CHITA RIVERA THE DANCER’S LIFE; FLOWER DRUM SONG (2002 revival); Tommy Tune’s THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE GOES PUBLIC; THE KING AND I (1996 revival and the 2015 revival). Original company of the premiere of ARMIDA at the Metropolitan Opera starring Renee Fleming. She is featured on four Broadway cast albums including 2015 Grammy Nominated, THE KING AND I.

Lainie Sakakura’s 1st Broadway show, Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, pictured with Amy Heggins and Jeff Calhoun on the Cover of Theaterweek. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura
“From This Moment On” “The vignette, here vibrantly performed by Andy Blankenbuehler and Lainie Sakakura” Ben Brantley, New York Times. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Lainie Sakakura, Chita Rivera on view in the Museum of Dance. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

Extensive teaching career includes: American Ballet Theatre, Broadway Dance Center, CAP21, Jacob’s Pillow, Joffrey Ballet, LINES Dance Center, New York University Tisch – New Studio on Broadway (Adjunct Professor), NJ Ballet, Pace University (Adjunct Professor), Steps NYC, The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC, University of the Arts. Private programs include Sakachez​.

Lainie Sakakura is one of only 17 AAPIs in 70 years tradition to receive The Legacy Robe. She is pictured here with her husband, Alex Sanchez, and daughters Avelina and Isa Sanchez at Lincoln Center on the opening night of the revival of The King and I in 2015.. Photo by Walter McBride
Lainie Sakakura directing AAPI legends, Alvin Ing and Virgina Wing. Photo by Lia Chang

In 2017 certain dancers self-organized into an entity known as Rockettes of Color Alumnae (ROCA). Over the course of three years 63* women came together based on their shared experience as dancers with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. Their mission is to be a place of support, education, and mentorship for current, past, and future Rockettes of color.

Read more about ROCA in Bird in the World: The 63 Rockettes of Color.

Nurturing the next generation: Sakachez Dance

2nd episode of Christopher Gatelli’s ‘Share the Floor’ with Lainie Sakakura and the Sakachez Students in Open Jar Studios which streamed on Broadway on Demand on May 6, 2021. Photo courtesy of Lainie Sakakura

“The need to have a more diverse representation and equity in all fields, not just in our Broadway community, but globally, is not only demanded but long overdue,” said Gattelli. “My hope is that Share the Floor is something not just for the current moment but is a program that will continue educating and providing an outlet for artists to create. I hope that you will join us in our effort to bridge the gap and make the dream of diversity and equality, a universal reality.”

LaDuca said, “I believe in not only giving back to this great community of dance, but I also feel obligated to pass the baton to future generations – sharing all the knowledge that was gifted to me by the greats who have helped me achieve my goals and dreams.

The Share the Floor series will continue weekly, with dance luminaries such as Ariana DeBose, Savion Glover, Francesca Harper, Sasha Hutchings, Bill T. Jones, Sergio Trujillo, and more. Additional guest artists will be announced as the program continues.

The Share the Floor creative team includes Christopher Gattelli (Conceiver, Creator and Producer), Vasthy Mompoint (Producer, Creative Advisor and Host), Phil LaDuca (Producer and Creative Advisor), Mason Granger (Producer and Technical Director), Jane Abramson (Producer), Roberto Araujo (Associate Producer and Broadcast Director), and Richard Riaz Yoder (Associate Producer, Social Media Director).

Open Jar Studios provides studio space to Share the Floor as part of their Broadway Inclusion Project which devotes 500 hours of studio space per year to BIPOC and underrepresented individuals.

Apr. 30, May 7 and May 22: Steps on Broadway in association with The Verdon Fosse Legacy is Presenting Intro Fosse® Dance Classes with Lainie Sakakura 

The Verdon Fosse® Legacy’s Online Global Fosse® Festival: Learn Trumpet Solo from SING, SING, SING with Lainie Sakakura and Georgina Pazcoguin on Mar. 15

Lainie Sakakura and Paul Fujimoto To Develop CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET at 2020 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony At Goodspeed Musicals 

Lia Chang

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the filmsWolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young.  

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