Sonya Belaya


Sonya Belaya is a first generation Russian-American pianist, singer, composer, and improviser, who divides her time between Michigan and New York. Committed to multiplicity, she is a diverse music-maker invested in vulnerable art and the development intimate, meaningful collaborations. Her work explores the integration of women's trauma and the immigrant experience as musical narrative by centering power-sharing and storytelling as a symbol of healing through vulnerability.

Sonya's awards include the 2021 American Composers Forum Create Award, the 2020-2021 Resident Artist & 2021-2022 Commissioned Artist at Roulette Intermedium, made possible by the Jerome Foundation.

Sonya's lead project is "Dacha", an octet flowing freely through influences of creative music, jazz, folk, and contemporary music. The ensemble seeks to preserve and re-contextualize the ancestral memories of Russian folk traditions. Consisting of musicians from diverse music backgrounds, the project uses storytelling and improvisation as a governing principle to transcend these differences for deeper musical dialogue. Dacha was born out of a necessity to find a sense of home and belonging, when Belaya's mother went missing in 2014. This resulted in the first project, "Songs My Mother Taught Me", a five song cycle released in May 2019. Belaya released a second album with the ensemble, "Dacha: Live at Roulette", in September 2020.

Belaya has collaborated with Amir ElSaffar, John Roberts, WildUp, New Music Detroit, and Detroit Composers Project. Sonya is an active educator focused on offering music as a means of cultivating self-awareness. She has worked as a dance collaborator at the University of Michigan, Mark Morris Dance Center, Dance Theatre of Harlem, and the Martha Graham School. She is currently on faculty at Adelphi University's Department of Dance.

Sonya Belaya

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