Sugar Vendil is a New York-based director and pianist lauded for “leading the unlikely intersection of classical music and new fashion” (The New York Times). A first generation Filipino-American, Vendil grew up in El Sobrante, CA, a suburb in the San Francisco Bay Area. She holds a Master of Music degree from New York University, Steinhardt, and is the founder of The Nouveau Classical Project, a contemporary classical ensemble based in New York that integrates music with other arts disciplines. Vendil is currently commissioning a set of solo works for her first solo album. In addition to rigorous discipline as a musician, her artistic practice is strongly focused on multidisciplinary performance that incorporates movement and approaches the piano in unconventional ways. For her piece “Test Site 1: In)habit”, the first part in a series of these explorations, she worked with choreographer Coco Karol and composer Trevor Gureckis, who has been her main collaborator for six years. Prior to this, she directed “Potential Energies,” a hybrid work for five musicians and five dancers choreographed by Barbie Diewald, composed by Trevor Gureckis, and performed by NCP and TrioDance at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) Fisher. Her present investigations revolve around the themes of identity and race, particularly related to discrimination as well as being caught in between two cultures. Vendil was recently awarded a Puffin Foundation grant, which will assist in generating a new piece that will confront these issues. Vendil is a 2016 Fellow in the Target Margin Institute for Collaborative Theater Making.
For her residency at National Sawdust, Vendil will work on a new performance piece with her collaborators that will revolve around racial identity and lost and found culture. These are issues that Filipinos often grapple with, being from a country that was colonized for over 400 years, first by Spain and then the United States. Incorporating live music, film, and Philippine dance, the piece will dissect the long term effects of colonialism and both the permanent and alterable state of identity.