Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Bessies at BAM: Yes, we've got winners!

Bessie Awards executive director Lucy Sexton (left)
with choreographers luciana achugar, Jack Ferver and Mariangela Lopez
(photo: AK47 Division)

The NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, announced the complete list of the 2015–16 season award recipients tonight at the 32nd Annual Bessie Awards ceremony at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, hosted by acclaimed choreographer, writer, and comedian Adrienne Truscott.

Awards were presented in the categories of Outstanding Production, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design, and Outstanding Visual Design, with additional awards presented for Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.

The evening included performances by Joya Powell, recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award, an excerpt from Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder (2016 Bessie for Outstanding Revival), performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and produced by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, and a tap tribute to 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Dance recipient Brenda Bufalino.

Champions of tap Tony Waag and award-winner Brenda Bufalino,
co-founders (with the late Honi Coles)
of the American Tap Dance Foundation
(photo: AK47 Division)

Composer and director Meredith Monk presented Eiko Otake with a Special Citation for her A Body in Places platform, presented and produced by Danspace Project. Dancer Ayodele Casel presented Brenda Bufalino with the 2016 Bessie for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. Judy Hussie-Taylor, Executive Director & Chief Curator of Danspace Project, and Alastair Macaulay, chief dance critic of The New York Times, presented an award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance to The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Alex Smith, Executive Chairman of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center also received an award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance, presented by Philadanco founder Joan Myers Brown.

Other presenters included Tei Blow, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Judith Jamison, Amar Ramasar, Regg Roc, Carlota Santana and Alice Sheppard.

The 2016 Bessie Awards are produced in partnership with Dance/NYC and presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

The 2016 NY Dance and Performance Awards

Eiko Otake
2015 Danspace Project Platform: A Body in Places
For making herself “radically available” in public and private spaces over several weeks, actively engaging with pressing political and environmental issues of our time. For collaborating with a wide range of artists through performances, readings, films, discussions, and rituals to evoke the power and meaning of the human body inhabiting a planet in crisis.

Brenda Bufalino
For her visionary work ensuring the future of the American art form of tap dance with the formation of the American Tap Dance Orchestra and Foundation. For introducing innovative concepts to tap choreography and for inspiring a new generation of tap artists to expand the art form.

Alex Smith
For his 21-year commitment to the presentation and preservation of dance by choreographers of color through the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center. For offering emerging and established artists performance opportunities and for developing audiences from underserved and underrepresented

The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
For giving the ephemeral art of dance a rich afterlife through its unrivaled collection of video, writing, photos, choreographers’ notes, and more. Thanks to decades of work by dedicated staff and leadership, dance’s past is there to be remembered, recovered, discovered, and imagined.

Souleymane Badolo for Yimbégré at BAM Fisher
For investigating the artist’s experience of home and not home, of African and American identity, of ancient rhythms and modern jazz in a work that gloriously communicated the clash and reconciliation of the different traditions held within one’s life, one’s body.

Pat Graney for Girl Gods at Peak Performances at Montclair State University
For a visually stark and surreal depiction of the emotions, strength, and rage of generations of women and girls struggling under the constraints of society’s image of what it is to be female.

Maria Hassabi for PLASTIC at MoMA
For masterfully transforming the museum environment into an inclusive performance space in which the viewer’s gaze was directed from performer to spectator, putting all bodies on display.

Ralph Lemon for Scaffold Room at The Kitchen
For a complex meditation on the black female experience in our culture, exploring its expression, projection, and manipulation. For mining Southern family stories and pop culture icons to create a work that troubled, entertained, and challenged its audience.

Ephrat Asherie
For her body of work
For a presence and a skill that is immediate and unmistakable, explosive and captivating. For her vibrant contributions to the works of Michelle Dorrance, Doug Elkins, Rennie Harris, Bill Irwin, Cori Olinghouse, Gus Solomons jr, and others.

Kazunori Kumagai
For Live at the Blue Note
For his powerful athletic technique combined with a riveting clarity. For extending the improvisational tradition of tap with a show danced in dialogue with musicians Alex Blake, Bill Ware, and Samuel Torres at the Blue Note.

Molly Lieber
For her body of work
For her introspective and tenacious performances, demonstrating her clear intention and visceral choices, and embodying the choreographic intention of a wide range of artistic processes in the work of luciana achugar, Maria Hassabi and Donna Uchizono.

Jamar Roberts
Sustained Achievement with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
For impeccably representing the traditional values of classic modern dance while forging new paths with his sublime artistry, technical precision, and passionate presence with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Dan Trueman in collaboration with Sō Percussion and Mobius Percussion
For There Might Be Others by Rebecca Lazier at New York Live Arts
For building a sound system which enabled an infinitely varied aural world, using drums, percussion instruments, pieces of paper, mobile phones, wine bottles, and more. The percussionists and dancers equally inhabited an everchanging composition in Rebecca Lazier’s There Might Be Others.

Holly Batt
For Pat Graney’s Girl Gods at Peak Performances at Montclair State University
For creating an immersive and interactive environment of boxes that metamorphosed in tone and purpose, from towering backdrop to dresser drawers to ritual containers for Pat Graney’s Girl Gods.

Three awards were presented in July at the Bessies press conference:

The 2016 Bessie for Outstanding Revival -- Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder by Donald McKayle, performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, and produced by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance at the David H. Koch Theater
For giving a classic modern dance powerful new 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.

The 2016 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.

The 2016 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 Jury was comprised of Yoshiko Chuma, Liz Gerring and Bill T. Jones.

The list of 2015–16 nominees can be found at:

The Bessie Committees:

The 2016 Bessie Awards Steering Committee, responsible for setting policy and providing oversight of the Bessie Awards throughout the year, is comprised of Cora Cahan, Beverly D’Anne, Lane Harwell, Jeanne Linnes, Stanford Makishi, Nicky Paraiso, Carla Peterson, Tamia B. Santana, Laurie Uprichard, and Martin Wechsler.

The 2015−16 Bessie Awards Selection Committee consists of Diana Byer, Kim Chan, Leah Cox, Nancy Dalva, Maura Donohue, Simon Dove, Angel Feliciano, Boo Froebel, Angela Fatou Gittens, Caleb Hammons, Zhenesse Heinemann, Jerron Herman, Iréne Hultman, Robert LaFosse, Melissa Levin, Matthew Lyons, Harold Norris, Craig Peterson, Mathew Pokoik, Rajika Puri, Susan Reiter, Walter Rutledge, Sue Samuels, Philip Sandstrom, Risa Shoup, Sally Sommer, Risa Steinberg, Carrie Stern, Kay Takeda, Catherine Tharin, David Thomson, Muna Tseng, Kay Turner, Tony Waag, Eleanor K. Wallace, Edisa Weeks, Ryan Wenzel, Adrienne Westwood, William Whitener, and Elizabeth Zimmer.

About the Bessies:

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 R. White at Dance Theater Workshop. They recognize outstanding 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.

Get your free email subscription
to InfiniteBody.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Visit Arts On Site's Open House, October 23

Studios at Arts on Site
East Village
(photos courtesy of Arts on Site)

Arts On Site is a brand new non-profit organization offering affordable rental space to all art forms, creating a home for the arts with an aim to build community.

You're invited to an Open House on Sunday, October 23, 2pm-10pm, hosted by Arts on Site in partnership with Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and Danspace Project at St. Marks Church to celebrate the launch of Arts on Site. Get to meet the Arts On Site team as well as the community of teachers and artists holding events and classes at this new East Village space for the arts.


Find out about upcoming events, classes, and workshops. Visitors are invited to explore Arts on Site's newly renovated studios and participate in a wide variety of sample classes lead by its current roster of artists.


In the spirit of collaboration, Arts on Site has teamed up with Fourth Arts Block (FAB) and Dancespace Project at St. Marks Church to present a short evening of performances. After the performances, enjoy a drink at a social hour with fellow artists, local business owners and community organizations from the area.

Arts On Site is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting artists of all disciplines by offering affordable studio rental space and a diverse calendar of classes, events, and workshops. Studios are open from Monday through Sunday, 7am-10pm, located at 12 St. Marks Place, 3F. For more information please visit or email to

12 St. Marks Place (Studios 3F & 4F), Manhattan

If you like what you're reading,
get your free subscription
to InfiniteBody

Memorial celebration for Kazuko Hirabayashi, November 7

Kazuko Hirabayashi
(photo courtesy of Daniel Madoff)

Organized by Daniel Madoff, Stephanie Tooman and Terese Capucilli, a memorial celebration for legendary dance teacher and choreographer Kazuko Hirabayashi has been set for Monday, November 7 (7:30pm) at New York's Symphony Space.

Ms. Hirabayashi, born in Japan, was an influential mentor to numerous leading dance artists. She died in March at her home in Harrison, New York. She was 82.

Featured performers include a stellar lineup from American Ballet Theater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Batsheva Dance Company, Martha Graham Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers, Abraham.In.Motion and Limón Dance Company as well as students from The Juilliard School, The Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College, SUNY, The Ailey School and The Martha Graham School.

Choreographers represented will include:

Kazuko Hirabayashi
Merce Cunningham
Martha Graham
Antony Tudor
Robert Battle
Ohad Naharin
Doug Varone
Kyle Abraham
Takehiro Ueyama
Alberto Estébanez Rodriguez
George Faison

Tickets are free with your RSVP by email to

Symphony Space
2537 Broadway at 95th Street, Manhattan

If you like what you're reading,
get your free subscription
to InfiniteBody

Friday, October 14, 2016

Witness Relocation answers the call of "The Loon"

L-r: Eva Jaunzemis, Robert M. Johanson and Dan Safer in The Loon,
a world premiere by Safer's Witness Relocation
(photo: Maria Baranova)

Early into The Loon--Witness Relocation's new show at Abrons Arts Center--I surrendered. I knew I had no way to keep pace as its writer/monologist, Robert M. Johanson, raced through a discourse on time, on muon particles and on chaos and its possible comforts. His outpouring of words threw out a tensile, almost visible barrier between the audience and Dan Safer's dance ensemble despite the close quarters of Abrons's Experimental Theater. Safer and chorus hit back with robust gesture, churning bustle, smoldering glamour with an aura of danger; Kaz PS hit back with a barrage of projected imagery, dazzling and ambiguous. But Johanson remained a gravitational force to be reckoned with.

"How do you feel when he moon is full? Do you find yourself having strange thoughts?" he asks.

Described as "a knock-down-drag-out, dance/theater show based on 1. an educational record about loons; 2 sociologist Erving Goffman; 3. the western house; 4. late night parties that last until the next morning," The Loon is 60 minutes of overload punctuated with hostility, distraction, drunken wrenching about and tender slow-dancing to a song about sex and death. During that hour, you learn stuff--like how surprisingly easy it is for your mind to cough up two handfuls of small memories, or what are four types of cries a loon makes and the purpose of each. It is full-moon strange, indeed, a seductive collage with vibrant performances from Alexa Andreas, Kelly Bartnik, Sunny Hitt, Annie Hoeg, Eva Jaunzemis, Johanson, Vanessa Koppel, Trevor Salter and Safer.

The Loon continues through October 29. For schedule and ticketing information, click here.

Abrons Arts Center (Experimental Theater)
466 Grand Street (between Pitt and Willett Streets), Manhattan

If you like what you're reading,
get your free subscription
to InfiniteBody

SERIOUS MOONLIGHT podcast: The Bessies with Lucy Sexton

Lucy Sexton, Executive Director,
New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies)
(photo: AK47 Dance Division)

Lucy Sexton works in dance, theatre and film. She is currently the Executive Director of the NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies. She began life as a dancer and with Anne Iobst she created, performed and toured with the seminal dance-performance group DANCENOISE; their work was featured in a retrospective at the Whitney Museum in July 2015. She also performs as The Factress, often in collaboration with Nurse Baby Asparagus, aka Mike Iveson.

With Kathleen Russo, she developed and directed the ObieAward winning Spalding Gray, Stories Left to Tell at The Minetta Lane Theater. She directed Tom Murrins’s Magical Ridiculous Journey of Alien Comic at Performance Space 122.

Sexton has produced two documentaries directed by Charles Atlas: The Legend of Leigh Bowery for the BBC and Arte, and TURNING with Antony and the Johnsons. She served as Consulting Associate Artistic Director of the new performing arts center at the World Trade Center developing its artistic vision and plan from 2013-2016.

The 2016 Bessies

Tuesday, October 18, 7:30pm

Doors open at 6:30pm 
for red carpet and pre-show celebrations.

Get your tickets here!

Serious Moonlight--hosted by Eva Yaa Asantewaa and produced with Tei Blow--is a production of Gibney Dance Center's Digital Technology Initiative.

Get your free email subscription
to InfiniteBody.

Copyright notice

Copyright © 2007-2016 Eva Yaa Asantewaa
All Rights Reserved

Popular Posts