New York University: Forty-Five Composers and Choreographers Collaborate on New Virtual Work through The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU and National Sawdust Toulmin Partnership

The Center for the Ballet and the Arts at NYU and National Sawdust today announced the 40 composers and choreographers named as Toulmin Creators who will collaborate on new work for the virtual medium and participate in a slate of digital performances and programs, free and open to the public. The Toulmin Creators join five Toulmin Fellows, announced in the fall.

The addition of the Toulmin Creators is the next phase in a year-long partnership between the Center for Ballet and the Arts and National Sawdust, designed to support female, trans, and non-binary artists. Creators receive project development support, resources to adapt their work to the digital space, and a generative environment in which to develop new work and collaborate across artistic disciplines. The partnership is made possible by a $300,000 gift from the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation.

To see the full list of Toulmin Creators, please visit

Several Creators have upcoming events in the near term as part of National Sawdust’s Digital Discovery Festival, a weekly program of live performances, interviews, and artist development designed to link audiences with artists and ensure artists are compensated for their work. Additional collaborations will be announced as artistic relationships develop among Toulmin Fellows and Creators.

The partnership between the Center for Ballet and the Arts and National Sawdust—which began in November 2020—supports 45 choreographers and composers at a time when the arts industry has been heavily impacted by the pandemic.

“I am beyond happy to collaborate with CBA in this new partnership. To be able to focus on mentorship, discussion and the genesis of new work in this challenging time is a tremendous gift. The depth and scholarly approach CBA brings to the table is unique and one we will learn from. The camaraderie, art and discussions that have ensued are gifts we will treasure in terms of artifacts of our time, and great additions to the collaborative process and the canon,” said Paola Prestini, composer, co-founder, and artistic director of National Sawdust.
“A year into the pandemic, artists are still creating and performing in a virtual environment. It is critical that these artists have the time, resources, and relationships needed to continue to develop new work. Music is vital to dance, so we are especially thrilled to partner with National Sawdust. We know these artists will benefit enormously from their community and expertise,” said Jennifer Homans, founder and director of the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU.

National Sawdust’s 2021 season celebrates creative and intellectual innovation and reinventing performance for the virtual stage and includes events with Toulmin Fellows and Creators. Further details about these events, as well as a full list of the Toulmin Creators and Fellows, is below.

2020-2021 Toulmin Creators:
Holland Andrews
Eliza Bagg
Stefanie Batten Bland
Sidra Bell
Galya Bisengalieva
Hope Boykin
Ayodele Casel
Maria Chavez
Helga Davis
Izzi Eberstadt
Kate Eberstadt
inti figgis-vizueta
Ogemdi Ude
Gwendolyn Gussman
Samar Haddad King
Alicia Hall Moran
Francesca Harper
Hannah Ishizaki
Ausia Jones
Maurya Kerr
Bridget Kibbey
Yaz Lancaster
Loni Landon
Amyra Leon
Allison Loggins-Hull
Aditi Mangaldas
JL Marlor
Jessie Montgomery
Niloufar Nourbakhsh
Okwui Okpokwasili
Caili Quan
Tiffany Rea-Fisher
Hannah Schneider
Alesandra Seutin
Alice Sheppard
Valeria Solomonoff
Rajna Swaminathan
Tanyaradzwa Tawengwa
2020-2021 Toulmin Fellows:

Amy Hall Garner
Molly Joyce
Brianna Mims
Marisa Michelson and Miriam Parker

Available On Demand Now

Kyle Abraham, A.I.M, and Jlin (Toulmin Creator)

Choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Kyle Abraham and pioneering producer Jlin have come together to create a new commission exploring death, folklore, and reincarnation through a reimagining of Mozart’s Requiem in D minor. While Abraham’s work is typically performed in proscenium, for FERUS he has reconceptualized an excerpt from an evening length work, exploring abstracted movement for the digital landscape. The duet features Keerati Jinakunwiphat and Jae Neal from A.I.M by Kyle Abraham, costumed by highly noted designer Giles Deacon with musical excerpts by producer Jlin. Choreography created in collaboration with A.I.M. dancers Keerati Jinakunwiphat and Jae Neal. A short live discussion with the artists, moderated by National Sawdust’s Elena Park, followed the screening.

Available On Demand Now

The Vanishing Point – Lisel (Eliza Bagg) (Toulmin Creator), Gwendolyn Gussman (Toulmin Creator), Booker Stardrum, and Alex Taylor

The Vanishing Point – a collaboration between experimental musicians Booker Stardrum and Lisel (aka Eliza Bagg), and dancer/choreographer Gwendolyn Gussman – is a piece of music & dance conceived as video art and intended for the digital stage. Created across the distances of the Covid era, The Vanishing Point spirals in the anxious euphoria and isolation of our time. One lonely body in uncanny spaces is accompanied only by digital manipulations and iterations of her own form. The piece meditates on the chaos of cyberspace and the destruction of the oceans, atmosphere, and trees, and our own culpability in precipitating these events. The work brings together Stardrum’s textural electronic production and percussion with the sweeping, ethereal world of Lisel’s “fractured, futurist form of pop” (WNYC). Lisel’s musical practice is grounded in her extensive career as a vocalist of Renaissance, Baroque and minimalist/post-minimalist singing styles, as she “disintegrates her voice into a euphoric, Auto-Tuned goo, emerging from the other side of the abyss an electro-pop alien” (NPR).

Available On Demand Now

Galya Bisengalieva (Toulmin Creator) and Sana Serkebaeva

Galya Bisengalieva presented the world premier performance of two tracks from her newly-released album Aralkum on One Little Independent Records. Described by The Guardian as a “meditation on natural disaster”, the work is an elegy for the former Aral Sea, now the Aralkum Desert, in Kazakhstan. It evokes an intimate grief and enduring hope for what has been called one of the worst environmental disasters on the planet. Galya’s tribute to the barren sea, desecrated by Soviet irrigation projects, is laid out in three parts: Pre Disaster, Calamity and Future. It is the future that Bisengalieva focused on for National Sawdust, partnering with fellow Kazakh artist Sana Serkebaeva. The event was followed by a conversation with the artist.
March 18 | 6:00 p.m.

Delune (Izzi and Kate Eberstadt) — Toulmin Creators

For National Sawdust, Izzi and Kate Eberstadt of Delune premiere a new concept video, “Pierrot and the Reverie”, blending animation by Alexandra Hohner, theater, pop music, and silent film: In it, a clown falls in love with a figment of his imagination, blurring the line between fantasy and reality; the composer-singer duo’s ethereal vocals and haunting electronic beats scaffold this amorous epic. This Covid-era creative collaboration manifested across time zones will be filmed at National Sawdust.

April 1 | 6:00 p.m.

Amy Hall Garner – Toulmin Fellow

Alabama-born choreographer Amy Hall Garner is a graduate of Juilliard and has created commissioned works for Ailey II, the Juilliard School and Barnard College, among others. Over the course of her fellowship, she will explore the ephemerality of flowers in their natural and abstract forms for a production that brings together music, dance, and art with collaborator Jared Small. Garner was one of the first recipients of the Joffrey Ballet’s Choreography of Color Award (now titled Winning Works). She has taught at American Ballet Theatre and Joffrey Ballet School summer intensives; currently, she is an adjunct professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
April 6 | 6:00 p.m.

Masterclass: Okwui Okpokwasili in conversation with Shirine Saad

April 8 | 6:00 p.m.

Brianna Mims – Toulmin Fellow

Model, dancer and activist Brianna Mims brings together fashion, dance, advocacy, and healing for positive change. This season, through intimate compositions of dance and music, she focuses on the body as a poetic and political site of liberation.

April 13 | 6:00 p.m.

Masterclass: Enact Lab and Molly Joyce, hosted by Paola Prestini: an Accessibility Workshop

April 15 | 6:00 p.m.

Left and Right – Molly Joyce (Toulmin Fellow), Jerron Herman, Max Greyson, and Austin Regan

Left and Right is a collaboration between composer/performer Molly Joyce, dancer Jerron Herman, writer Max Greyson, and director Austin Regan to examine historical myths of the left versus right side. The work specifically explores the traditionally cursed and dark left side of the body, sourcing stories from ancient Mesopotamians to the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. These societies collectively held strong biases against the left hand, often relegated to curses and inflicting injury while the right hand was considered healing and beneficent. Left and Right intersects, overlaps, diverges, and collaborates through the disparate yet synergic disciplines of dance and music, with a digital film presentation to unite and contrast the two. The work will incorporate accessibility as aesthetic; including open captions, sign language interpretation, and audio and sound descriptions, with contributions from curator Sandy Guttman and more.
April 22 | 6:00 p.m.

Marisa Michelson and Miriam Parker – Toulmin Co-Fellows

Two co-fellows from our season-long collaboration with the Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU— composer, performer, and founder of Constellation Chor, Marisa Michelson, and interdisciplinary artist Miriam Parker — connect sound and movement from sacred music to free jazz, Buddhism to divine spirituality. Their digital premiere will explore making visible that which is invisible in the space of human interactions, through Constellation Chor’s “core sounding” practice of channeling impulses, energies and pure emotions (i.e. emotions that arise from the body in the present moment, without narrative attached) into singing and movement.

May 18 | 6:00 p.m.

Masterclass: Loni Landon on Building a Practice as a Choreographer, hosted by Shirine Saad

About the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University
The Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University is an international research institute for scholars and artists of ballet and its related arts and sciences. It exists to inspire new ideas and new dances, expanding the way we think about the art form’s history, practice, and performance in the 21st century. To learn more, please visit

About National Sawdust
National Sawdust builds new audiences for music by providing outstanding resources and programmatic support to both emerging and established artists and composers. Centered on discovery within music, National Sawdust’s programming strives to introduce audiences to new artists and styles, while also introducing artists to new audiences. As an incubator of new music from across the genre spectrum, National Sawdust provides artists the space, time, and resources they need to create and present their art at its best.

About the Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation
The Virginia B. Toulmin Foundation is the first charitable organization to focus its performing arts grantmaking on promoting emerging female composers, choreographers and playwrights in the fields of opera, symphonic music, ballet and theater and to promoting women of color creators within these fields, focusing its grantmaking on a broad diversity of voices that need to be heard. The Foundation carries on the principles of its founder, Virginia B. Toulmin, a long-time patron of the arts, who believed in equal access and opportunity for women.

Comments are closed.