And the award goes to …
CHARMAINE PATRICIA WARREN | 10/9/2014, 11:47 a.m.
In October and again in December, Arthur Mitchell, founder of Dance Theatre of Harlem; Dr. Charles Davis, founder of DanceAfrica!; Joan Myers Brown, founder of Philadanco!; and Misty Copeland, soloist with American Ballet Theatre, will be honored by dance institutions for their exemplary work in the field.
The New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka the Bessies, will honor Mitchell for Lifetime Achievement in Dance and Davis for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance Oct. 20 during the annual awards ceremony at the Apollo Theater.
A Harlem native, Mitchell founded the first African-American classical ballet company (Dance Theatre of Harlem) after studying and dancing with George Balanchine, founder of New York City Ballet, as the first African-American male dancer in 1955. Inspired by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Mitchell founded Dance Theatre of Harlem in 1969 and directed until 2004. Founding member and principal dancer Virginia Johnson is the current artistic director of Dance Theatre of Harlem.
Davis is being recognized for his leadership of the legendary dance festival DanceAfrica!, founded in 1977.
Davis also founded the Chuck Davis Dance Co. and the African-American Dance Ensemble in Durham, N.C. This fall will be “Baba Chuck’s” last year as artistic director. Abdel R. Salaam, founder of Forces of Nature, was named his successor. For more information, visit www.dancenyc.org.
Dec. 4 to Dec. 7, at the annual Performance Festival of the American Dance Guild, Myers Brown, now celebrating her 45th year as the founder of the Philadelphia Dance Company, aka Philadanco!, will be honored. After founding Philadanco! in 1970, Brown helped establish the International Association of Blacks in Dance in 1991 and now serves as the honorary chair. Among her many awards, she received the Presidential Medal of Honor in the Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013.
Just one week before their annual season in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Theatre, for this ceremony the company will perform Ronald K. Brown’s “Gatekeepers” and former company member, now soloist with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Hope Boykin, will be featured on opening night.
Also honored this year is Douglas Dunn, founder of Douglas Dunn and Dancers, and Bill Evans, founder of Bill Evans Dance Company. The event will be held at the Ailey Citigroup Theater.
Dec. 8, for their annual awards ceremony, Dance magazine will honor Copeland. Copeland joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company in September 2000 and then American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in 2001.
She was appointed a soloist in 2007. She is the first African-American to hold this position. Raven Wilkinson, the first African-American to receive a full-time contract as a ballerina for Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in New York in 1955, will present the award to Copeland.
Dedicated to awarding “outstanding men and women whose contributions have left a lasting impact on the dance world,” Dance magazine will also recognize jazz teacher Luigi (aka, Eugene Louis Faccuito), the co-founders of the American Tap Dance Foundation Brenda Bufalino and Tony Waag, the British choreographer Wayne McGregor and Larissa Saveliev of Youth America Grand Prix. The event will be held at the Ailey Citigroup Theater.
Performances will include an excerpt from McGregor’s “Chroma,” danced by members of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and a duet, “Marcelo Gomes,” in tribute to Saveliev. Copeland will also perform. For more information, visit www.americandanceguild.org.