"Dawis knocked us out with a cultured voice and a stage presence far beyond her years. If you are offered a stock prospectus for shares in Isabella's stage future, [this column] issues a strong 'buy' recommendation."
- Graydon Royce, Minneapolis StarTribune
Isabella Dawis is a performer and playwright based in NYC and Minneapolis. Trained as a classical musician, she collaborates with artists of all disciplines to create genre-crossing new works.
Isabella is bookwriter/lyricist for the musical HALF THE SKY, the story of an Asian American woman climbing Mount Everest -- for which she and composer Tidtaya Sinutoke won the 2020 Weston-Ghostlight New Musical Award. In January 2021 HALF THE SKY was presented as an episodic audio musical, as part of the 5th Avenue Theatre's 20/21 Digital Season. HALF THE SKY is an inaugural First Draft commission by the 5th, with further development at Theater Mu's New Eyes Festival, Theater Latté Da's NEXT Festival, the O'Neill Center, and the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat.
Isabella's chamber musical with Tidtaya Sinutoke, SUNWATCHER, the true story of Japanese female astronomer Hisako Koyama, is being developed in the 2020-21 Civilians' R&D Group, with an upcoming residency at Goodspeed Musicals' Johnny Mercer Writers Grove, also featured in the Weston Playhouse's Songs for Today series. Isabella recently collaborated with composer/lyricist Emily Gardner Xu Hall on the 24 Hour Plays: Viral Musicals.
As a playwright and librettist, Isabella's work has been supported by Musical Theatre Factory, the Kurt Weill Foundation, New York Theatre Barn, the Bushwick Starr, Broadway Buskers, Town Stages, Central Square Theater, the Skeleton Rep, New England Conservatory, and the Schubert Club. She was a 2019-2020 Rockwell Scholar at the Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts.
Isabella recently starred opposite her sister Francesca as twins L and M in Jiehae Park's PEERLESS at Theater Mu. Other recent credits include THE MAGIC FLUTE (Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra), the Byzantine Choral Project's ICONS/IDOLS (54 Below), Erik Ehn's DEMAFELIS (Planet Connections), VOID (The Tank), Project Y's Women in Theatre Festival, SWEAT (Center for Contemporary Opera), and the New York Philharmonic Biennial (featured soloist). Originally from Minneapolis, Isabella grew up acting onstage with companies including Theater Mu, the Minnesota Opera, the Children's Theatre Company, the Guthrie Theater, and Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.
Isabella holds a B.M. summa cum laude and highest distinction in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Prof. Alexander Braginsky as a National Merit Scholar and Phi Beta Kappa member. As a pianist, Isabella appeared in concert with the Minnesota Orchestra, the Dakota Valley Symphony, and the Minneapolis Civic Orchestra. She then went on to study classical voice with Lisa Saffer at New England Conservatory in Boston.
When not performing, Isabella works as an accompanist and piano teacher. She often performs with her sister, singer/actor/violinist Francesca Dawis.