Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Let's hear it for the Bessies!

Last year, our awards ceremony sold out, and that's a final answer to whether the community wanted these awards to come back. They did. They have. And we're here!

--Lucy Sexton
I'm psyched about the revitalized New York Dance and Performance Awards, now unmistakably back by popular demand and the enormous effort of dedicated organizations and individuals. The "Bessies"--produced by Lucy Sexton and overseen by a steering committee chaired by Dance/NYC's Lane Harwell--deserve our full support as they unfold a new era of inclusiveness and diversity. And that inclusiveness and renewed energy certainly was vividly heralded by hip hop queen Rockafella and her multicultural crew, toasting The Bessies's July 18 press conference with a blistering opening dance act.

Some news from The Bessies:
  • Downtown is heading uptown. Way uptown. The 2011 Awards Ceremony will be held at the landmark, world-beloved Apollo Theater, thanks to a new, ongoing partnership announced by the Apollo's Executive Producer, Mikki Shepard. (Ms. Shepard is also chair of the Board of Directors of the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, a major supporter of The Bessies, and she was a co-founder of 651 Arts.) Put Monday, October 24, 8pm, on your calendar. See you uptown!
  • The new Juried Bessie Award, given to a choreographer selected by a jury of top-flight peers, will include touring opportunities for "the most exciting, most interesting work presented in New York during that year," as explained by steering committee member Reggie Wilson. The Bessies's first partner in this initiative will be Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival (Rochester, NY). Choreographers Elizabeth Streb, Ralph Lemon and David Gordon will serve as its first team of jurors.
  • For the first time, The Bessies Selection Committee has announced finalists under consideration for nine newly-reconfigured awards (selected by a variety of subcommittees):
Outstanding Production (of a work performed in a larger capacity venue of more than 400 seats):
Thirteen Diversions--Christopher Wheeldon--American Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera House
Quartet--Merce Cunningham--Merce Cunningham Dance Company, The Joyce Theater
The Bright Stream--Alexei Ratmansky--American Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera House
Outstanding Production (of a work that stretches the boundaries of a traditional or culturally specific form):
Remembering Jimmy and Three to One--Michelle Dorrance, Danspace Project
Los Muñequitos de Matanzas with Max Pollak and Barbaro Ramos, Symphony Space
Caribbean Soul Dancers--Ismael Otero, Salsa Congress, Hilton Hotel
Outstanding Production (of a work performed in a smaller capacity venue of less than 400 seats):
Them--Ishmael Houston-Jones, Performance Space 122
Etudes for an Astronaut--Lance Gries, La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival
Nameless Forest--Dean Moss in collaboration with Sungmyung Chun, The Kitchen
Outstanding Production (of a work not technically considered dance but happening in and influencing the dance community):
Selective Memory--Brian Rogers and Madeline Best, The Chocolate Factory
Lili Handel--Ivo Dimchev, La MaMa
Montgomery Park, or Opulence--Karinne Keithley, Incubator Arts Project
Outstanding Visual Design:
Walter Dundervill for Aesthetic Destiny 1: Candy Mountain (choreographed by Dundervill, performed at Dance Theater Workshop)
Patricia Forelle for La Folia (1700/2011) (choreographed by Raoul Auger/Lynn Parkerson as part of From Baroque to Hip Hop performed at the Performance Space at the Schermerhorn)
Bjorn Amelan, Robert Wierzel, and Janet Wong for Fondly Do We Hope...Fervently Do We Pray (choreographed by Bill T. Jones, performed at the Rose Theater)
Outstanding Sound Design or Composition:
Stephen Vitiello (in collaboration with Patrick DeWit, drumming segment) for Nameless Forest (choreographed by Dean Moss in collaboration with Sungmyung Chun at The Kitchen)
Jon Moniaci for Electric Midwife (choreographed by Beth Gill, performed at The Chocolate Factory)
Rodrigo Marçal for ID: Entidades (choreographed by Sonia Destri, performed at City Center)
Savion Glover for SoLe Sanctuary (choreographed by Savion Glover, performed at The Joyce)
Outstanding Emerging Choreographer:
Souleymane Badolo
Beth Gill
Bouchra Ouizguen
Justin Peck
Outstanding Individual Performance:
Camille A. Brown in The Evolution of a Secured Feminine (choreographed by Camille A. Brown)
Rebecca Serell Cyr in beginning of something (choreographed by RoseAnne Spradlin)
Caleb Teicher in A Shared Evening (choreographed by Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards)
Marcelo Gomes in Giselle (performed by American Ballet Theatre)
Sustained Achievement in Performance:
Rashaun Mitchell in the work of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company
David Thomson in the work of various choreographers including this season's performance in Muna Tseng's STELLA
Wendy Whelan in the work of the New York City Ballet
To keep up with Bessies news, visit this page and/or connect with the Bessies on Facebook.

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