Sita Chay is a violinist, composer, and producer based in NYC. A chain reaction of events pushed her towards the Arts – watching a friend perform on Broadway led to her eventual Broadway orchestra career, which inspired her to take on other artistic projects outside the theatre, such as SaaWee, a “Korean Shaman Ritual for the modern global citizen,” Ritual of Le Sac, a “music-based storytelling [film] of baby’s mysterious life inside the womb,” Tokala, a celebration of tradition that “[brings] together Japanese and Korean folk, pop music, Eastern European and Middle Eastern music,” and Multidimensionally Human, “an initiative exploring psychotherapy’s “Internal Family Systems” through theater, music, dance, and art installation.” Chay is continually inspired by live art’s ability to evolve and breathe through mishaps and mistakes, and loves discovering friendships as she continues on her path. She advises young artists looking to discover their role in the arts to “carve out a practice that feels good” and let the rest follow. Read on to learn more about Sita Chay and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Sita Chay (Korean name: Borahm)
Current City: New York City
Current Projects: I have several, here are a few:
Photo credit: Yui Kitamura (IG: @arumatikphotography)
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
Usually the most current project is where my heart is. My favorite projects are the ones where each member has space to explore their own voice and transformation, and where each artist can be interactive with those transformations.
Advice for young people getting into the arts:
For me, three kinds of deep listening led me to blissful places in life. Tuning into my inner voice helped me to understand what my authentic state tastes like, which became my grounding place. Secondly, quietly observing the outer world helped me to tune into the energy of other people, community, and space. Lastly, accessing the fluid place between my authentic self and the world led into creative projects that I felt good about. When these happen, I feel good as an artist. I think people who are getting into arts might find their unique place in the world if they can carve out a practice that feels good, fluid, and deepening.
How did you get your start?
A lot of things started to happen organically when I expanded my sense of self – self as an individual and a wider sense of self within the community, society, and world. My excitement of seeing my best friend performing on Broadway turned into subbing on Broadway, my admiration towards Broadway actors turned into the theatrical aspect of SaaWee, which led me to Multidimensionally Human. My love for Jewish culture, Balkan tradition, Latin dances, turned into natural hangouts and gigs. Almost all my career path had to do with friendship, fascination towards traditions, longing to learn new things, and belonging somewhere meaningfully.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you’d like to share?
When I was subbing for Sweeney Todd on Barrow Street, there was a time our lead actress forgot her line. She came over to the music director, and openly shared with the audience that she forgot her line. At the same time, she was improvising within her character. It was one of the most profound, humanizing, powerful moments that I experienced as a performing artist. The audiences were more engaged, all the performers were more alive than ever. I felt and learned that the beauty of performing arts is not necessarily about being perfect and proving skills, but about being true to the moment and ourselves. There was something so authentic and vulnerable about making the confession that she forgot what she was expected to remember. And yet, it felt like a true art how she weaved what was happening inside her with the character she was playing. After such experiences in theater, my relationship with mistakes and creativity shifted. When I am producing and performing SaaWee’s ritual, there are almost always several unexpected accidents, or changes during the show. Instead of judging it as misfortune, I learned to utilize those moments as an invitation to spontaneity. Those catalysts started to have roles of their own, and gave uniqueness to each show. I now look forward to them secretly.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
For the past 15 years, my career was driven by saying YES. It really made my musical palette colorful and adventurous. It also grew on me as a personality which was focused on pleasing others and getting hired again. In a way, I was scared to have a boundary. For a long time, I had a mentality to work any hours, anywhere for any rate. Shifting from “always yes” to “thoughtful yes” has been a scary process because it does affect the frequency of getting called for gigs. For example, I am asked less and less for certain kinds of gigs this year and I go through a period of wondering if I did something wrong or if people don’t like me anymore. In the big scheme of things, I am happy that I have a choice to shape my career and my commitments are decided intentionally towards projects that feel good.
Do you have any mentors?
Yes! I have about 3 mentors and they are my guardian angels. At some point in my professional life, I realized how rare it is to receive concrete and honest feedback. I also longed for the continuation of learning that I used to receive during school. When I collaborate with an artist I look up to, I don’t hesitate to reach out for mentorship. It has gifted me a sense of clarity of what I have built so far and direction of what I would like to work towards. I also believe in mutual mentorship because I believe everyone has something they can offer. When I was just starting my career, I accidentally tapped into volunteer work in performance and mentorship. What was so unexpectedly magical was that giving helped me to reflect on what I had even though I felt like I was only a newcomer. It helped me to access my tools and gave me a sense of security.
What other instruments have you played or learned to play besides your main instrument?
Piano, Darbuka, Jang-gu, Conga, hand drums, viola, Ajaeng.
To find out more on Sita Chay, please visit her at:
Multidimensionally Human: www.sitachay.com/mdh
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