This year’s 32nd annual NY Dance and Performance Awards, the Bessies, moved from a five-year run at the Apollo Theatre to the Brooklyn Academy of Music at the Howard Gilman Opera House. Executive Director Lucy Sexton and Lane Harwell, executive director of Dance/NYC, introduced Katy Clark, president of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and then the host, choreographer, writer and comedian Adrienne Truscott, kept the evening alive with unending quips. The impressive lineup of presenters included Joan Myers Brown, Tei Blow, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Judith Jamison, Amar Ramasar, Regg Roc, Carlota Santana, Alice Sheppard, Ayodele Casel, Meredith Monk, Alastair Macaulay and Judy Hussie-Taylor.
The house, as it is each and every year, was filled with friends, supporters and performers ready to celebrate yet another year in dance. The evening included performances by Joya Powell, the recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award, and a special performance of Donald McKayle’s 1959 classic, “Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder,” danced by members of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. “Rainbow” received the 2016 Bessie for Outstanding Revival and was produced by the Paul Taylor American Modern Dance at the David H. Koch Theater.
Outstanding Production awards were presented to Souleymane Badolo for “Yimbégré” at BAM Fisher, Ralph Lemon for “Scaffold Room” at The Kitchen, Maria Hassabi for “PLASTIC” at MoMA and Pat Graney for “Girl Gods” at Peak Performances at Montclair State University. Outstanding Performer awards went to Jamar Roberts, Ephrat Asherie, Kazunori Kumagai and Molly Lieber. Outstanding Musical Composition/Sound Design award went to Dan Trueman in collaboration with Sō Percussion and Mobius Percussion, Outstanding Visual Design award went to Holly Batt, and a Juried Bessie went to Pam Tanowitz. A Special Citation was awarded to Eiko Otake for her 2015 Danspace Project, “Platform: A Body in Places,” and Brenda Bufalino received a Lifetime Achievement in Dance. The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, and Alex Smith, executive chairman of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center received awards for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.
The Bessie Awards “…salute outstanding and groundbreaking creative work in the dance field in New York City.” The 2016 Bessie Awards was produced in partnership with Dance/NYC and presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The list of 2015-16 nominees can also be found at www.bessies.org.