BluePrint Fellowship: 2011-2012 Fellows
  • Aleks Degtyarev

    Aleks has been passionately involved in the media world for over 10 years. Among a diversified skill set his main focus has always been producing, filming and editing, combined with education. As a multi-disciplinary artist, Aleks grounds all his work from a writer’s background sealing it with his knowledge of poetry and philosophy. Working with actors/talent as a director, he is not afraid to get in front of the lens and expose his own vulnerability. Aleks believes that everyone has a great story to tell and he searches out ways to inspire his collaborators to tell their stories. His major focus is honest media that has transformative potential, seeking to strengthen communities, and evolving communication.

    Using multiple media formats, including music, video, and live acting, Aleks plans to create 10 three-minute short humorous films about his own life presented to an audience while simultaneously being accompanied by a live score and corresponding stage performances as part of his BluePrint presentation, entitled “Jewish Lightnin’: an Interactive Humorous Play”. He plans to explore Russian-Jewish humor as it interplays with his own experiences through the various plays. He explains, “These are stories about the coming of age of one Jewish boy who was brought to the USA by his family from Soviet Ukraine when he was eight years old. These are specific stories about what it means to explore ones identity and the challenges that await along the way.”

    In June 2012 Aleks staged a pilot theatrical performance in preparation for the final performance, which will take place the Roger Smith Hotel in the spring of 2013.

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  • Aleksandra Mogilevich

    Aleksandra Mogilevich was born on November 10, 1981 in Yaroslavl, Russia. She began playing the drums at the age of 15, however her first instrument was the cello. Aleksandra received her Bachelor of Music Performance Degree from the
    Moscow Music Academy in 2009. At the same time, she began her career as a freelance drummer and continued her studies with some of the greatest American teachers upon her relocation to the USA. She is the first drummer among Russian female musicians to have a successful Jazz career.

    Some of Aleksandra’s notable appearances include Zildjian Day (Moscow 2006) with Pat Torpey, Yaroslavl Jazz Festival 2005 and 2007 (“Jazz On The Volga”), DiscoverJazz Festival 2008 in Burlington, Vermont, Super Jazz Ashdod Festival 2009 with Benny Golson, and many more. Since arriving in the USA, she has been performing with many famous musicians, including Valery Ponomarev, Alex Sipyagin, Roberta Picket, Joey Morant, Judi Silvano, Benny Golson, Boris Kozlov, Janice Friedman, John Benitez, Spike Wilner, and countless others.

    In addition, Aleksandra Mogilevich has been chosen by the US Library of Congress to take part in a prestigious Jazz Education program in Louisville, Kentucky in June 2005. Aleksandra Mogilevich gave lessons and master classes at Zildjian Day in Moscow and in the Institute of Yaroslavl. She recently had one of her lessons published in “Territory of Culture” magazine in Moscow and has also been featured and published in the Russian “Music Box” magazine.

    Aleksandra is the only Russian Jewish female drummer in the world who is a successful jazz musician.

    As part of her project, Aleksandra will present some of the work from Russian-Jewish female jazz musicians by creating, recording, and performing compositions from across several sub-genres of jazz, as well as other music genres such as contemporary Israeli music and Klezmer. She hopes to increase awareness of the role of Russian-Jewish women in jazz, as well as to involve a number of female musicians in the project.

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  • Arthur Yusupov

    Born and raised in Uzbekistan, Arthur moved to New York at the age of 16. Arthur graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Media and Communications from Queens College, CUNY. He spent a few years working as a tour guide in major museums in New York City and now works in a Fortune 500 telecommunications company. Arthur is a co-founder of the MMIC Investment club and in his free time helps non-profit organizations with video and photo projects.

    Arthur is passionate about travel, film, and outdoor activities. Riding a bike and playing soccer on the weekends are among regular activities for Arthur. Among friends Arthur is known as a curious individual, with a great sense of humor and talent for telling jokes in a way that makes an audience laugh and beg for more.

    Arthur’s BluePrint project examines the stories of the earliest Jewish émigrés from the former Soviet Union, those who left before the large waves of immigration in the late 1980s and 1990s. He plans to examine their stories, with a special focus on the time they spent in transit in Europe.

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  • Biana Lupa

    Biana Lupa is currently the Enrichment and Family programs coordinator at the Shorefront Y. She has been working in the Jewish communal world for five years with organizations such as RAJE, Hillel at Baruch and the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island. Biana received her Master’s Degree in Public Administration (non-profit concentration) from Bernard M. Baruch College and a cum laude Bachelor’s Degree in International Criminal Justice and Government from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has always been a service-oriented individual who enjoys helping others. Biana has received several awards and honors, most notably, the John Jay Scholarship and Service Award, and a certificate of appreciation in recognition of ongoing support of the Russian Jewish Heritage in New York. She is also being honored as a dedicated alumnus at the RAJE Annual Dinner on March 15, 2012. Aside from volunteering, in her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and being a published writer. Her current endeavors include the Blueprint Fellowship at COJECO, R’ayon Fellowship at JCH and an ad hoc position as a matchmaker on mymatchmakr.com.

    As a part of her BluePrint project, Biana decided to help American and Russian young people traveling to Israel find ways to extend their stays in Israel in constructive ways. By offering them access to extensive volunteer opportunities, they have tohe potential to find stipends and make new friends while serving a good cause.

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  • Dina Pruzhansky

    Dina Pruzhansky is a Russian-Israeli pianist and composer based in New York. After winning a number of nationwide music competition in her native country Azerbaijan, she moved to Israel. Since 2006, Ms. Pruzhansky resides in New York City. A recent alumna from Mannes College for Music, she has appeared in solo and chamber music recitals throughout the United States, Russia, Israel, Belgium and Germany, and has shared the stage with many leading artists, including the soloists of the Metropolitan and San Francisco opera houses and the soloists of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. New York City recital venues include Merkin Hall, Le Poisson Rouge, Steinway Hall, Bechstein Piano Center, Union Club, the Yamaha Piano Salon, Scandinavia House, The Ukrainian Institute, the Russian Permanent Mission to the U.N. and others.

    As a composer, Ms. Pruzhansky was selected as a finalist for the 2009 Fred Ebb Musical Theater Award, with her lyricist collaborator Matt Schatz. She is a member of the Tony-honored Advanced BMI musical theater workshop. Her compositions have been broadcast in the U.S., Israel, Russia and Azerbaijan. Recent premiere venues include the Enrico Fermi Cultural Center, the Bechstein piano center, the JCC Manhattan, the International “Limmud” Festival, the Yamaha piano salon, and the Laurie Beechman Theater. Ms. Pruzhansky’s Art songs were selected for the Russian Cultural Heritage Festival in New York.

    Current projects include an opera “Caravaggio”, commissioned by the Italian Academy Foundation and arrangements of songs by Manuel de Falla for a string orchestra.

    Ms. Pruzhansky holds a Masters Degree (Summa cum Laude) in Piano Performance from the Tel-Aviv Buchmann-Mehta School of Music, where she studied with Prof. Victor Derevianko, a former pupil of Heinrich Neuhaus. Her wide range of interests also led her to earn a degree in Art History.

    Building on her history of musical composition, Dina chose to create a new musical called “The Song of Silverfish” that tells the story of a twenty-five year-old Russian-Jewish music student living with her American great aunt on the Lower East Side and her quest to learn more about an old piece of sheet music she finds. The musical will feature original songs influenced by older East European melodies, ragtime, and contemporary urban music.

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  • German Nudelman

    German was born in Leningrad and moved to Israel after finishing high school. Following demobilization from the Israel Defense Forces, he began his studies at Bar-Ilan University (BIU), where, along with a Ph.D degree in computational biology, he also received a Jewish education. In 2005, German accepted an offer to join the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan for the position of associate scientist. German first expressed his passion for children’s scientific education while developing a biotechnology program in the pre-academic unit he managed at BIU.

    German’s strong belief is that the well-being of new generations can be dramatically improved through proper education. This has motivated him to develop child-oriented scientific workshops. With the wonders of scientific discoveries, German’s workshops are designed to combine fun and fascination with learning to spark kids’ interest in science.

    As part of his BluePrint Fellowship project, German has developed and recently presented a number of new workshops in a variety of COJECO projects for kids, as well as for adults. Among such workshops are “Judaism and genetics”, “What science hides behind the Jewish tradition?” and “The application of the multi-layer paradigm in matter and in Torah”.

    As a scientist, German’s BluePrint project works to increase the connections between science and Judaism through hands-on, direct workshops for Russian-speaking Jewish families and children involving topics such as cheese-making, DNA, and bacteria. In the process, he hopes to show that science and Judaism are far from opposites, and in fact often go hand-in-hand.

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  • Irene Tenenbaum

    Irene Tenenbaum was born in Kiev Ukraine. She was 5 years old when her family moved to New York City. Irene holds a BA in Biology from Barnard College and a MBA from Cornell University. During the day she works in finance for a pharmaceutical company.

    In 2007, she was a participant on OTZMA, living, working and volunteering in Israel for a year. While on OTZMA Irene was asked to speak about her immigration experience at a JAFI conference. Afterwards, someone told her about his experience traveling to the Soviet Union as part of a delegation to save Soviet Jews and how they were followed by the KGB. This brief story sparked an interest in learning more about what was happening in the US during the “Let My People Go” movement and people’s expectations. This
    experience was the initial idea that eventually led to this Blueprint Fellowship project.

    Irene spent a year in Israel during the OTZMA program in 2007, which sparked her interest in learning more about the history of the Refusenik movement. This interest manifested itself in her BluePrint project, a comprehensive documentary about the Refusenik movement that includes interviews with both Jews from the former Soviet Union who left everything behind, as well as the American Jews who worked to help them emigrate. She also plans to hold a panel discussion and question and answer session with people who were involved in the Refusenik movement after the film screening.

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  • Irina Sheynfeld

    Irina Sheynfeld, is an artist, illustrator and designer born in Odessa, Ukraine, where she studied painting at the Odessa College of Art. Upon arriving to New York, Irina earned her BFA from Parsons School of Design and MFA from School of Visual Arts. She worked as a designer and illustrator for The Wall Street Journal, Time Warner and Oxygen Media. For several years Irina illustrated a weekly column for Editor and Publisher magazine. Irina just had her first solo show at Tagine Gallery in NYC and her work could be currently seen at Amsterdam Art Gallery and at Iridium Jazz Club. She was one of the winners of the Printmaking Completion and recipient of the New Media Award for the best web design.

    For her BluePrint project, Irina decided to create 10 paintings that reflect the experiences of Russian-Jewish women and a variety of themes such balancing work and home, finding love and marriage, and arriving in a new land. Overall, she hopes to present a microcosmic view of the larger problems dealt with by the Russian-Jewish community as a whole.

    Irina will have her first exhibition of these works at the JCC in Manhattan on September 27, 2012.

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  • Katya Meykson

     

     

     

     

     

    Katya Meykson moved to the United States in 1996 from Moscow, Russia. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

    To view her works, CLICK HERE

    Project:
    Katya will fabricate an interactive sculpture to explore the idea of memory as a transitional ritual. The sculpture will consist of various fabrics with embroidered and shaved maps and aerial views. Each participant enacts a state of remembering by kneeling into the dark sculpture to observe interior maps by touch.

    For her BluePrint project, Katya created an interactive sculpture called “REFUGEeLandEscape”, featuring fabrics covered with embroidered and shaved maps and aerial views. Viewers can kneel into the dark sculpture and touch the maps, in the process exploring the concept of memory as a transitional ritual and embracing the concepts of nostalgia and memory.

  • Konstantin "Kenny" Domnister

    Konstantin Domnitser was born in Kiev in 1985 and immigrated to the US in 1989. He lives in NJ, where he works for a catastrophic risk analysis company. Prior, he worked as a radiation hardening engineer on GPS satellites while obtaining an MS in electrical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology. Konstantin is an avid music listener, writes music and plays guitar. He also enjoys participating in sports and watching basketball.

    Kenny decided to focus on introducing music by Russian-Jewish composers and with Russian-Jewish themes to new audiences through public performances for his BluePrint project. In addition, the composers will document their creative process in writing the works and speak to the audience about the full artistic journey they had during the composition process.

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  • Margarita Korol

    Margarita Korol is an urban pop artist, designer, and writer in New York City producing media in the publishing and public worlds including art directing, editing, and illustrating for several online and print magazines. Her writing, illustrations, paintings, and arts and culture propaganda are vibrant expressions of urban progress in directed contexts.

    Born the week of Chernobyl in Ukraine to refuseniks, Korol’s focus on empowering individuals in disadvantaged struggles against their political systems is an ongoing theme in her work. Her most recent exhibit for Brooklyn’s ArtOnBrighton exhibition on the Coney Island/ Brighton Beach boardwalk featured a series of propaganda posters directed to the area’s SovJew immigrant community in Korol’s generation. Previously, Propaglasnost: The Transparency Projects series was on view at NYC’s KGB Bar May and June 2011. Meanwhile, her Berlin Wall installation Die Mauer is housed at Chicago’s DANK-Haus German Cultural Center.

    Using a combination of poetry, art, and music, Margarita plans use her BluePrint project, entitled “Spoils of War: a Multimedia Poetry Project Honoring the Refusenik Single Mother”, to delve into the Refusenik experience, as well as the nature of Jewish identity in the former Soviet Union. She is creating an illustrated poem, as well as opening a corresponding gallery show to explore these issues, as well as the often forgotten perspective of the child immigrant.

    In June, Margarita presented her poem and illustrated prints at the National Arts Club, and will be holding a grand opening exhibit, in conjunction with the limited release publishing of her illustrated poem, in 2013, which will mark the 25th anniversary of her immigration to the United States.

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  • Masha Girshin

     

     

     

     

     

    Masha Girshin is the Program Director of The Blue Card. Established in 1939, The Blue Card, a national non-profit organization, provides financial assistance to destitute Holocaust survivors. During her time at The Blue Card, Masha has helped establish the extremely profitable Marathon fundraiser program which has raised over $340,000 for needy survivors since 2009. Masha has been successful in increasing our donor-base through events and other initiatives.

    Ms. Girshin also sits on the Board of Directors of Save a Child’s Heart (“SACH”) Young Leadership Group. SACH is an international humanitarian organization providing life-saving heart surgeries and follow-up care for children in developing countries.

    Masha Girshin received an Interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Law from Binghamton University in 2006. She has an MBA in progress from Pace University.

    For her BluePrint project, Masha decided to film a documentary featuring interviews with four to five Russian-speaking Jewish senior citizens, offering them an opportunity to tell their life stories. The project will also include photographs and mementos from the various interviewees and be publically screened and accompanied by a panel discussion.

  • Michael Eydman

     

     

     

     

     

    Michael is a person with diverse interests. He has a fascination for adventure travel, fine arts, science and philosophy. He is in a process of discovering his artistic side through drumming, poi spinning, art installations and cinematography. ‘A Day in Life of an Immigrant’ is a film project inspired by appreciation for differences in personal habits and perspectives on life. Through Blueprint Fellowship, Michael is documenting daily routines of his fellow immigrants in an effort to show how diverse their adaptations are to the American culture.

    Michael’s BluePrint project is focused on exploring the theme of “A Day in the Life of an Immigrant.” Through film, he seeks to illustrate the diverse experiences of Russian-speaking Jewish immigrants in the United States as they adapt to American culture.

  • Nadya Meykson

     

     

     

     

     

    Nadya Meykson and Victoria Schwartzman plan to make a recoding of contemporary Russian-Jewish emigre composers. The recording will include works that are rarely heard and which they feel deserve to be introduced to a wider audience. The recording will be followed by two public concerts.

    Nadya Meykson moved to the US in 1996 from Moscow. She holds a Master’s Degree in Music from the Eastman School of Music. She has performed in venues such as Weill Recital Hall at the Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Millennium Stage at The Kennedy Center, The Bohemian National Hall, The State Kremlin Palace Concert Hall, All-Union House of Composers in Moscow and The Glinka State Central Museum of Musical Culture in Moscow.

    Nadya has appeared as soloist with OSSIA Orchestra, Shoals Symphony Orchestra, Tuscaloosa Symphony Orchestra and Alabama Youth Symphony Orchestra. She has won various prizes, including Concert Festival, Noel Levine, First Prize at Ray Dunmyer Youth Concerto Competition, and First Prize at Shoals Symphony Orchestra Young Artist Competition.

    For her BluePrint project, Nadya is collaborating with pianist Victoria Schwartzman to produce a recording of works by contemporary Russian-Jewish émigré composers, including many pieces that are not widely known. In addition to releasing a CD, they plan to organize two public concerts at concert venues around New York City.

  • Shara Richter

    Shara Richter grew up in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and a Master’s Degree in Sociology, both from the City University of New York, Brooklyn College. She is passionate about all things related to food and travel. She recently lived in Seoul, South Korea, where she taught English and took cooking lessons. While living in Seoul, Shara was fortunate enough to do some traveling in East Asia. Her next adventure is taking her to Brazil, where she hopes to eat a lot of food, and play Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that she recently began practicing in Brooklyn.

    Shara plans to use her BluePrint project to complete a blog that highlights 10 Russian-Jewish mother-daughter pairs and their favorite recipes and foods. Through interviews, cooking sessions, and photographs, she hopes to explore both mother-daughter bonds and culinary traditions as a part of Russian-Jewish culture.

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  • Tanya Levina

     

     

     

     

     

    Originally from Minsk, Belarus, Tanya Levina is a Brooklyn based painter. Her artistic inclinations showed at a very young age as she started compulsively drawing on every surface in sight including books, walls and papers around the house. As she grew older, Tanya gave up defacing household property and started using drawing and painting as an outlet for documenting surroundings and expressing affection for things she liked, especially horses. To this day horses remain a dominant theme in her work. Tanya often sets her subjects in extremely colorful, exaggerated and slightly surrealistic settings, drawing inspiration from her surroundings, travel experiences, as well as works by Dali, Klimt and Monet. Her artwork can be found at www.tanyalevina.com

    Aside from painting, Tanya studied Economics at Brandeis University, and after a couple of stints at various strategy consulting firms landed as a Research Manager at Scholastic.

    Tanya plans to create a large oil painting called “The Ghost of an Ancient City” for her BluePrint project that depicts a cityscape of modern-day Jerusalem. Overlaid on top of the painting will be a digital projection showing the same areas of Jerusalem as they are believed to have looked two thousand years ago.

  • Yelena Shmulenson

     

     

     

     

     

    Yelena Shmulenson emigrated to the U.S. with her family in 1993 from Simferopol, Ukraine. She decided to become an actress instead of getting a real job, and now spends her life making silly faces. Her theater credits include five seasons with the Folksbiene, two seasons at the Ellis Island Theatre, “Enemies: A Love Story” in Russian, Frank (‘Klezmatics’) London’s musical of “A Night In the Old Marketplace”, and “The Essence: A Yiddish Theater Dim Sum”, which was a big hit in Sweden. On film, she was a spy in Robert DeNiro’s “The Good Shepherd”, she played Lady Capulet in “Romeo & Juliet in Yiddish”, she burned in “Fire At The Triangle” (PBS), and she fought a dybbuk in the Coen Brothers’ “A Serious Man”. She can be heard in the NPR radio drama ”The Witches of Lublin” (with Tovah Feldshuh) as Leah, the bass-playing Witch. She has also recorded several audio books, winning the Earphones Award for her recordings of “Train to Trieste” and Cynthia Ozick’s “The Shawl” and “Rosa”. Her next audiobook “Two Rings” will be released in March 2012, and she will be seen on Season Three of “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO). She is fluent in five languages.

    Interweaving elements of her own experience as a Russian-Jewish immigrant with the story of the life of American Jewish housewife and executed spy Ethel Rosenberg, Yelena plans to create a one-woman Off-Broadway show based on Rosenberg’s life and death.

  • Yuliya Levit

    Yuliya was born in Moscow in 1979 and graduated from RGGU with degree in IT in 2001. She moved to New York, along with all my family: my parents, my 84 year old grandfather, two of my 83 year old grandmothers, our dog, our cat, a violin, a guitar, my father’s bike and sewing machine that same year. Ever since she can remember she was interested in the link between the photo and a story, but she got serious about photography only 9 years ago. I currently reside in New York and work as a professional photographer.

    Using photography and interviews, Yulia hopes to use her BluePrint project to document the lives of roughly 60 Russian-speaking Jewish seniors between the ages of 70 and 100 living at the Sephardic Home and Adult Daycare Center.

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