Archives for posts with tag: Bessie Awards

At the 2012 Bessie Awards, the New York dance “community of communities,” as organizer Lucy Sexton put it, reaffirmed itself on many levels while honoring its standouts.  One question wove in and out of the remarks from the stage: “How lucky am I?”

As in: how lucky am I to be doing what I love?  How lucky am I to be allowed to work with such amazing collaborators?  How lucky am I that people see my work?  How lucky am I to be able to live my passion?

On an obvious level, this is a ritual of gratitude.  Listen closer, and it rings as a statement about belonging.  It sounds like, “I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”

The award presenters and recipients made another act of belonging that night at the Apollo Theater: an affectionate rub of the golden tree stump positioned down right as each took the podium and prepared to speak.

I know there is a deeper story here than I’m prepared to tell.  Suffice it to say, this was an “insider” tree stump, and rubbing it an insider thing to do.  The performing arts are full of such things.

So are other fields.  I happened to catch world-class Alpine climber Conrad Anker at Yale Law School as part of The North Face Speaker Series.  He related how he and his two climbing partners, Renan Ozturk, and Jimmy Chin, promised the Hindu mountain dwellers for whom Himalayan summits are sacred that they would bring them back rocks from the very top to share their joy.  Last fall was the third time the three Americans had tried to scale the direct line up the Shark’s Fin of Meru (Garwhal), and they were successful.

What insider-type rituals go on in your workplace?  How could it become a place of adventure, a place of belonging?  And how often do YOU ask that golden question in the company of your colleagues, “How lucky am I?” 

Pop action hero Elizabeth Streb hosted the 2012 Bessie Awards at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, honoring New York dance artists who have broken new ground and/or made discoveries in the art form.  “Our moves are our message,” she remarked from the stage.  How true!

In that spirit, ta-DA! Here’s a move from business back into the arts today, hoping some people who might not normally follow “who’s who” in contemporary dance might just get curious.  It’s an illustrious roster, with a lot of great work to back up each name.

First of all, who is Elizabeth Streb?  I’ve written before about her in the context of garage art.  However, when she’s not throwing open the doors to her Brooklyn studio and inviting in the whole neighborhood, you might find her dancers, oh, I don’t know, walking down the SIDE of a FAMOUS monument in LONDON, maybe?

Streb Dance London: Dancers bungee off the Millennium Bridge

Among the artists honored with Bessies (named after Bessie Schoenberg, late, great professor of dance at Sarah Lawrence College), let’s hear it for Flamenco artist Israel Galvan, who created La Edad de Oro, performed at The Joyce Theater.  Let’s also agree to use the label of Flamenco loosely, as Galvan delves into the many possible futures such a specific form might take when freed from its original cultural moorings, melting into pure rhythm.  His native Spain has recognized him with a National Dance Award; this clip is from Barcelona in 2007:

Paul Taylor was singled out for lifetime achievement although he is still achieving and may yet bring out another masterpiece.  Author of 137 ballets, “lyrical, muscular, dynamic and humane,” Taylor led himself through layers of rebellion against artistic conventions to create a whole new dance category and vocabulary.  His works are now included in the repertories of 40 dance companies around the world.

Outstanding Production in a large venue: Event by Merce Cunningham performed at the Park Avenue Armory.

Outstanding Performer in a large venue: Silas Riener in Split Sides by Merce Cunningham at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Oustanding Performer in a culturally specific form: Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards for sustained achievement in performance and her work with Jason Samuels Smith at the Joyce Theater.  “Our mission was to show the audience what Charlie Parker’s music looks like,” she remarked in her acceptance speech.

Emily Johnson’s The Thank You Bar won for outstanding production in the context of the expanding field of contemporary arts, dance and performance practice.

Outstanding Performer in the expanding practice category was Nicole Mannarino in Devotion Study #1 by Sarah Michelon performed at the Whitney Museum.

Outstanding Emerging Choreographer: Rashaun Mitchell for NOX performed at Danspace Project.

Outstanding Production in a small capacity theater (under 400 seats): Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church by Trajal Harrell performed at New York Live Arts.

Outstanding Performer in a small capacity theater: Omagbitshe Omagbemi for sustained achievement in the works of Keely Garfield, Ralph Lemon, David Gordon, Urban Bush Women, and many others.

2012 Bessie Award for Service to the Field of Dance went to Alice Tierstien, who teaches choreograhy to teens.

Outstanding Revived Work: The Shining by Yvonne Meier, presented by New York Live Arts, performed at The Invisible Dog Art Center.  This was a new award category in 2012.

In the category of Outstanding Sound Design or Composition, Faustin Linkyekula was recognized for the piece “more, more, more…future” performed at The Kitchen in the French Institute’s Crossing the Line Festival.

And for Outstanding Visual Design, Doris Dziersk for her design for Blessed by Meg Stuart, in which a cardboard set was pummelled by stage rain at New York Live Arts.

A 2012 Juried Bessie Award went to Souleymane Badolo, who performed live at the awards ceremony.

MANY THANKS for the evening’s success are due to the New York Dance and Performance League.  Co-production kudos go to Dance/NYC, an organization I helped jumpstart with Andrea Snyder (as we remembered together last night).  I hope that these moves back and forth between the arts and entrepreneurial business worlds might spark some investigation into a new sector for some people, inviting those rare and precious wow moments of aesthetic, intellectual and purely visceral enjoyment beyond the norm.

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