As part of the ongoing celebration of Asian American and Pacific Island Heritage Month, The Lucille Lortel Foundation continues to use its social media platforms to help elevate and honor AAPI community members , Please join Viet Vo on the Lucille Lortel Foundation Instagram account, “IG LIVE WITH” on Friday, May 28 at 7pm as he chats with the Broadway Vet Lainie Sakakura (FOSSE, The King and I, Flower Drum Song, Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public, Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life). Please follow @lorteltheatre to tune in.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Nurturing the next generation: Sakachez Dance
Originally from Hawaii, Viet Vo thought moving from that island to the island of Manhattan was going to be the same. Until he realized there were no beaches, just a lot of pavement. However, he has had many a great opportunity to work with amazing as well as well known people. For that, he is living beyond his dreams. Theatre: ROMEO AND BERNADETTE, CAROUSEL, FISHING FOR WIVES, MISS SAIGON, MIKADO. TV/FILM: THE BLACKLIST, A CRIME TO REMEMBER, TALES OF THE CITY, LOST.
The Lucille Lortel Foundation was created by Lucille Lortel to foster excellence and diversity in the theatre, as well as to faithfully preserve the rich history and support the continued prosperity of Off-Broadway.
The Foundation has several major programs, including its General Operating Support Program that has provided millions of dollars to New York City theatre companies. Companies outside of New York City are ineligible for funding. Only companies that receive a request for proposal are eligible for the General Operating Support Program.
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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