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Emerging Artist Award

The Emerging Artist Awards recognize SMTD graduates from within the past 15 years who have made a significant contribution to their artistic field. Winners from each of three categories (music, theatre, and dance) are awarded annually. The 2016 winners have been selected and will be announced in January 2016.


2015 Emerging Artist Award Recipients

Celia Keenan-Bolger, BFA '00 (musical theatre)

Celia Keenan-Bolger





Celia Keenan-Bolger is a Tony nominated actress and singer who has starred on Broadway in Glass Menagerie (Tony Award Nomination, Dorothy Loudon Award, Drama Desk Award), Peter And The Starcatcher (Tony Nomination, Drama Desk Nomination, Drama League Nomination), Les Miserables (Drama Desk Nomination), and The 25thAnnual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Tony Nomination, Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble, Theatre World Award). Off Broadway, she has played roles in The Oldest Boy (Lincoln Center Theater), Merrily We Roll Along (City Center Encores), A Small Fire (Playwrights Horizons), Bachelorette (2econd Stage), Saved (Playwrights Horizons), Juno (City Center Encores), Little Fish (Second Stage), and Summer of '42 (Variety Arts). Regional credits include Johanna in Sweeney Todd (Kennedy Center Sondheim Celebration), Emily in Our Town (Intiman Theatre), and Clara in The Light In The Piazza (Goodman Theatre). Ms. Keenan-Bolger has been featured in recordings of Merrily We Roll Along, Spelling Bee, Bright Lights Big City, Summer of ‘42and Broadway Musicals Of 1930. On television, her credits include "Nurse Jackie," "Law & Order SVU," "Law & Order," and "Heartland." Outside of performing, Ms. Keenan-Bolgeris a founding member of Broadway for Obama, she is a lead organizer for the annual NYCLU concert Broadway Stands Up For Freedom, founding member of TDFs Young Patrons Committee, Broadway Impact Advisory Board Member and Honest Accomplice board chair.



Dominique Morisseau, BFA '00 (theatre)

Dominique Morisseau










Dominique Morisseau, playwright and actress, is an alumna of the Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop. Her play, Detroit ’67, is the 2014 winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History. Among her playwriting credits are: Sunset Baby (Gate Theatre; LABrynth Theatre Company), Detroit ’67 (Public Theater; Classical Theatre of Harlem/National Black Theatre), and Follow Me To Nellie’s (O’Neill; Premiere Stages). She has produced other original works with the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Penn State University, American Theatre of Harlem, and The New Group. Ms. Morisseau currently has commissions with Steppenwolf, Lincoln Center Theater, Lincoln Center Education, and South Coast Repertory Theatre. She is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, a runner-up for the Princess Grace Award, a commendation honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award and the Weissberger Award for Playwriting, the U of M – Detroit Center Emerging Leader Award, and a PoNY (Playwrights of New York) Fellow.



Alex Springer, BFA '07 (dance) & Xan Burley (BFA '07 (dance) and BA '07 (English)

Alex Springer and Xan Burley







Photo Credit: Vesa Loikas

Alex Springer and Xan Burley are the artistic directors of The Median Movement. Since 2008, their work has been presented by University Settlement, the 92Y, DanceNOW [NYC] Joe's Pub Festival, the TANK, Triskelion Arts, Movement Research at Judson Church, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange/BAX, among other venues and festivals. Their screendance daylighting received DFA’s 24-Hour Challenge Silver Award (2009) and An Ostrich Proudly was featured on Hulu as part of TenduTV’s Essential Dance Film. Other dances for the camera have been screened in various festivals, most recently A Study in Lying for Spark & Echo, and their choreography appears in the feature-length film Frances Ha (2013). They have been guest choreographers for the Collective (MD), Oakland Dance Theater (MI), Ohio University (OH), James Madison University (VA), Goucher College (MD), Bates College (ME), Colby College (ME), Cora Youth Company (NY), Harrison Dance Company (MI), and the Harkness Repertory Ensemble (NY). They have also taught at Gibney Dance Center, Mark Morris Dance Center, Dance New Amsterdam, as guest faculty at Purchase College, and various other universities, summer programs, and festivals. As members of Doug Varone and Dancers, both have taught and performed extensively in the U.S. and abroad, including Korea, the Dominican Republic, Russia, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru, and Hungary.

Mr. Springer has performed for Alexandra Beller, Amy Chavasse, Elizabeth Dishman, the Leopold Group, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Donnell Oakley, Peter Sparling, and Leyya Tawil. He has been a member of Doug Varone and Dancers since 2008 and acts as the company’s rehearsal director and media manager/archivist. In 2013, he was on faculty at the Bates Dance Festival. He also works as a freelance video consultant for AO Pro(+ductions).

Ms. Burley has performed for artists and companies Nancy Bannon, Daniel Charon, Amy Chavasse, Shannon Gillen and Guests, Shannon Hummel/Cora Dance, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Donnell Oakley, Tami Stronach Dance, and Leyya Tawil, among others. She joined Doug Varone and Dancers in 2012 and acts as the company’s tour manager. She also co-produces WAXworks, a non-curated monthly multi-media showcase series in Brooklyn, and is on modern faculty at the 92Y.

Past Recipients


Juliana Athayde
Nadine Balbeisi
Nicholas Blaemire
Julie Blume
Jesse Blumberg
Zachary Booth
Rodney A. Brown
Esther Chae
Sam Davis
Michael Fabiano
Hunter Foster
Xiang Gao
Damon Gupton
Kelly Hirina
Rachel Hoffman
Christopher Jamros
Jeremy Kittell
Ben Klein
Rachel Laritz
Sean Panikkar
Michael Spencer Phillips
Matthew Rose
Daniel Bernard Roumain
Miriam Shor
Leyya Tawil
Julie Tice
James Wolk

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Photography Credits:

U-M Photo Services

Joe Welsh

Peter Smith

David Smith

Glen Behring

Tom Bower