7/21/16 O&A NYC DANCE: Bessie Award Announces 2016 Nominees (With Video)

 By Walter Rutledge


The New York Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, announced the nominees for the 2015-16 season at a press conference on Wednesday July 14 at Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center at 280 Broadway.

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The 38 nominees, selected by an independent committee of 40 dance industry professionals who meet throughout the year, were announced to an enthusiastic standing room only crowd. In addition to announcing the nominees for Outstanding Production, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Music Composition or Sound Design, and Outstanding Visual Design three awards for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer, Outstanding Revival, and the Sixth Annual Juried Bessie Award were presented. The Bessies, the dance equivalent of the Tony Awards, will take place at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Howard Gilman Opera House on October 18 at 7:30pm.

Lucy at the Bessies

“After five glorious years at the Apollo, we are thrilled to be bringing the awards to BAM’s historic opera house,” says Sexton. “It is in some sense a homecoming—BAM hosted the awards from 1985 to 1990—and it is especially meaningful as Brooklyn is home to so many artists.” Lucy introduced Bessie Steering Committee Chairman Dance NYC executive director Lane Harwell who elaborated on the return to Brooklyn.  

Bessie’s Press Conference Intro:

The Juried Bessie Award is chosen by a rotating panel comprised of three acclaimed artists. This year panel members Yoshiko Chuma, Liz Gerring and Bill T. Jones selected Pam Tanowitz. Pam Tanowitz, who received a 2009 Bessie Award for the dance, Be in the Gray With Me, at Dance Theater Workshop and a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, speak with the same unstated grace and wit that has catogorized her body work.


The Bessie Award Citation reads: 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.

2016 Juried Bessie Award Presentation

Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Round My Shoulder received the 2016 Outstanding Revival award. The masterwork was produced by the Paul Taylor’s American Modern Dance and performed by the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company during the Taylor Company’s 2016 New York City season. The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company articulated McKayle’s poetic, poignant and prophetic declaration on mass incarnation and injustice, which remains a timeless message that still resonates in 2016.


The Bessie Award Citation reads: 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 at the David H. Koch Theater.

2016 Outstanding Revival

Joy Powell received the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award. Powell’s passion for community, activism, and dances of the African Diaspora were the catalyst for forming Movement of the People Dance Company. As Artistic Director/Choreographer Powell is dedicated to connecting cultures, creating socially conscious choreography and finding ways for underserved communities to use dance as a means for self empowerment. 


The Bessies Award Citation reads: 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 Emerging Choreographer

The 32nd annual Bessie Awards, presented in association with the Brooklyn Academy of Music, will take place on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, at 7:30pm, at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House. Tickets will go on sale in August for more information and to purchase tickets go to bessies.org

2016 Bessie Award Nominees

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
Presented by the Joyce Theater at the 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, Reggie Wilson 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 and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
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


In Photo: 1) Melissa Toogood (front) and Maggie Cloud 2) Bessie Press Conference Montage 3) Lucy Sexton 4) Pam Tanowitz 5) Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 6) Joya Powell

Photo by: 1) Yi 2) AK47Division 3) Walter Rutledge 4) Erin Baiano 5) Paul B. Goode 6) Steven Schreiber 

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