Thursday, July 14, 2016

Joya Powell, Donald McKayle win early Bessies; nominations announced

Oh, how I deeply regret missing the Bessies press conference last evening, but I am up very early this morning to catch a train out of town for a few days.

Here's all the exciting news you need to know, and my hearty congratulations to the winners and the nominees.

I hope to see you on October 18!

--Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody


The 32nd annual Bessie Awards, presented in association with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, will take place on Tuesday, October 18 at 7:30pm, at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.

Three 2016 awards were presented at last evening's press conference at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center:

Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award: Joya Powell

"for her passionate choreographic engagement with issues of justice and race in our communities and our country; for connecting with the audience in ways that make it clear that these concerns belong to all of us—and action is required."

Outstanding Revival: Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder, choreographed by Donald McKayle

"for giving a classic modern dance new and powerful life, transforming the midcentury portrayal of an African American prison chain gang into a searingly resonant cry for our current times, performed with humanity, craft, and beauty by the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, produced by Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance as part of its 2016 season."

Juried Bessie Award: Pam Tanowitz

"for using form and structure as a vehicle for challenging audiences to think, to feel, to experience movement; for pursuing her uniquely poetic and theatrical vision with astounding rigor and focus."

The 2016 Bessie Nominations

Outstanding Production:

luciana achugar

An Epilogue for OTRO TEATRO: True Love

Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center

Souleymane Badolo

Yimbégré: Replanting roots in the name of freedom

BAM Fishman Space

Camille A. Brown

Black Girl: Linguistic Play

The Joyce Theater

Jack Ferver and Marc Swanson


The New Museum co-presented by FIAF

Pat Graney

Girl Gods

Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University

Maria Hassabi



Heather Kravas

dead, disappears

American Realness at Abrons Arts Center

Ralph Lemon

Scaffold Room

The Kitchen

Dada Masilo

Swan Lake

The Joyce Theater

Justin Peck


Miami City Ballet

David H. Koch Theater

Liz Santoro & Pierre Godard

For Claude Shannon 

The Kitchen

Safi A. Thomas with H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory

Sleeping Beauty

Flamboyán Theater

Outstanding Revival (* indicates award recipient):

get dancing

By Andy de Groat & Catherine Galasso

Danspace Project

Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder  *

Choreographed by Donald McKayle

Performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company

Produced by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance

David H. Koch Theater

Outstanding Performer:

Ephrat Asherie

Sustained Achievement with Dorrance Dance, Doug Elkins, Bill Irwin, Gus Solomon jr., Rennie Harris, Cori Olinghouse, and many others

Nicolas Bruder

In Custodians of Beauty by Pavel Zuštiak

New York Live Arts

Omar Edwards


New Victory Theater

Paul Hamilton

For his body of work including Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room and the work of Jane Comfort, Keeley Garfield, and others

Parisa Khobdeh

For her body of work with Paul Taylor Dance Company

Kazunori Kumagai

For his body of work including Live at the Blue Note Late Night Groove Series

Jennifer Lafferty

In Catacomb by Beth Gill

The Chocolate Factory

Molly Lieber

For her body of work with several artists including luciana achugar, Maria Hassabi, and Donna Uchizono

Aaron Mattocks

In Big Dance: Short Form by Big Dance Theater

The Kitchen

Gillian Murphy

Sustained Achievement with American Ballet Theatre

Aakash Odedra

In Rising

Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

Jamar Roberts

Sustained Achievement with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater


Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (* indicates award recipient):

John Heginbotham

Jillian Peña

Joya Powell *

Larissa Velez-Jackson

Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design:

Admanda Kobilka

For Clap Hands by Jen Rosenblit

Invisible Dog Art Center / New York Live Arts

Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste

For #negrophobia by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko | anonymous bodies

Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center

Dan Trueman, Sō Percussion, and Mobius Percussion

For There Might Be Others by Rebecca Lazier

New York Live Arts

Ustatshakirt Plus

For Dream'd in a Dream by Seán Curran

BAM Harvey Theater

Outstanding Visual Design:

Holly Batt

For the visual and set design of Girl Gods by Pat Graney

Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University

Design Team: F. Randy deCelle, Ralph Lemon, Roderick Murray, Naoko Nagata, R. Eric Stone, Mike Taylor, and Philip White

For the visual design of Scaffold Room by Ralph Lemon

The Kitchen

DD Dorvillier and Thomas Dunn

For the lighting and visual design of Extra Shapes by DD Dorvillier

The Kitchen

Eamonn Farrell

For the new media scenography of Forgiveness by Emily Berry | B3W Performance Group

BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center


Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, the NY Dance and Performance Awards have saluted outstanding and groundbreaking creative work in the dance field in New York City for 32 years. Known as “The Bessies” in honor of revered dance teacher Bessie Schönberg, the awards were established in 1984 by David White at Dance Theater Workshop. They recognize exceptional work in choreography, performance, music composition, and visual design. Nominees are chosen by a 40-member selection committee comprised of artists, presenters, producers, and writers. All those working in the dance field are invited to join the NY Dance and Performance League, as members participate in annual discussions on the direction of the awards and nominate members to serve on the selection committee.

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