+ Add An Event


Your support helps us cover dance in New York City and beyond! Donate now.

The 2012 Bessies:New York Dance and Performance Award Recepients

The  2012 Bessies:New York Dance and Performance Award Recepients


Tuesday, October 16, 2012 - 1:25pm

The 2012 Bessies: New York Dance and Performance Award Recipients

New York Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies
Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC

Monday, October 15, 2012 at 8 pm
Apollo Theater
253 West 125th Street

Hosted by Elizabeth Streb.

Special performances by Trisha Brown Dance Company and Souleymane Badolo.

Award Presentations by Marina Abramovic, luciana achugar, Ronald K. Brown, Brenda Bufalino, Archie Burnett, Stuart Hodes, Kevin McKenzie, Bebe Neuwirth, Charles Reinhart, Rokafella, David Thomson, Wendy Whelan.

"The scale and reach of this year's ceremony, and the range of artists represented, demonstrate the vitality and promise of dance in New York City," says Lane Harwell, Director of Dance/NYC and Chair of the Bessie Steering Committee.



For his pioneering work as modern dance's original maverick, helping to re-imagine what was possible in dance; for creating a unique dance language that is both lyrical and muscular, dynamic and humane; for having the courage and commitment to follow his own compass, creating new works for six remarkable decades, the 2012 Bessie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance goes to PAUL TAYLOR.

The Bessie Selection Committee is thrilled to honor Paul Taylor with the 2012 Bessie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. For nearly six decades Taylor has been inventing movement and creating dances which delight and challenge the audience. Starting in 1954, Taylor was one of the early radicals reimagining the ways that that one might use dance to communicate ideas. The Bessies salute him as a pioneer who helped reshape the landscape of American dance.

Paul Taylor is the last living member of the pantheon that created America's indigenous art of modern dance. At an age when most artists' best work is behind them, Mr. Taylor continues to win public and critical acclaim for the vibrancy, relevance and power of his creations. In 1954 he assembled a small company of dancers and began to choreograph. Mr. Taylor has made 137 dances since 1954, many of which have attained iconic status. He has covered a breathtaking range of topics, but recurring themes include life and death; the natural world and man's place within it; love and sexuality in all gender combinations; and iconic moments in American history. Mr. Taylor has influenced dozens of men and women who have gone on to choreograph - many on their own troupes - including Pina Bausch, Patrick Corbin, Laura Dean, Senta Driver, Thomas Evert, Danny Ezralow, Danny Grossman, Amy Marshall, David Parsons, Twyla Tharp, Takehiro Ueyama, Doug Wright and Lila York.

He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton in 1993. In 1995 he received the Algur H. Meadows Award for Excellence in the Arts and was named one of 50 prominent Americans honored in recognition of their outstanding achievement by the Library of Congress's Office of Scholarly Programs. He is the recipient of three Guggenheim Fellowships and honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degrees from California Institute of the Arts, Connecticut College, Duke University, The Juilliard School, Skidmore College, the State University of New York at Purchase, Syracuse University and Adelphi University. Awards for lifetime achievement include a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship - often called the "genius award" - and the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award.


For inspiring hundreds of NYC public school teens to create and perform original choreography, connecting them with a wide range of professional dancers in her Young Dancemakers Company; for thirty years teaching the art and craft of dance at the Fieldston School, and for a lifetime spent building the dance community for future generations as a performer, teacher, mentor, and advocate, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Service to the Field of Dance goes to ALICE TEIRSTEIN.

The Bessie Selection Committee has chosen Alice Teirstein as the recipient of this year's award for service to the field. Teirstein's work with young dancers in New York City has changed countless lives and given generations of young people the ability to express themselves through dance and choreography. She believes in their abilities to create and compose, and offers high school students from across the city the opportunity to choreograph and perform their work via her Young Dancemakers Company. All of us working in dance in NY owe her a great debt of gratitude.

Alice Teirstein, MA, is the founding director of Young Makers and has been choreographing, performing, and teaching dance in New York since the early 1970's. She designed, initiated and developed the dance curriculum for grades 7-12 at the Fieldston School, where she served on the faculty for over 3 decades, leading the dance program and directing its Touring Fieldston Dance Company. She initiated the dance program's Dance Out Project, bringing her students into the city's homeless shelters where they served as group leaders in dance workshops with homeless youngsters, for which she received an award from the city's Human Resources Administration. She also brought the Dance Out Project to public schools in the South Bronx. For three years she was Co-Director of the 92nd St. Y's Young Masters Repertory Ensemble. She has led workshops for dance teachers for the NYC Department of Education, the Dance Educators Lab, and many other organizations.

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION (of a work performed in a larger capacity venue of more than 400 seats):

Preludes and Fugues by Emanuel Gat, performed by Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve at The Joyce Theater (nominated)

Samhara by Surupa Sen performed by the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble at The Joyce Theater (nominated)


For transforming the vast architecture of the Armory with the cloud-like designs of Daniel Arsham, the astral music of four composers, and the complex, exhilarating choreography culled from five decades of Merce Cunningham's work to create an unforgettable and profoundly moving gift to its audience, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Production goes to The Merce Cunningham Dance Company for Event at the Park Avenue Armory.

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION (of a work that stretches the boundaries of a culturally specific form):

Dingle Diwali by the Darrah Carr Dance Company with guest choreographer Sean Curran performed at Symphony Space (nominated)

Jazz Meets Flamenco by Juan de Juan and Jason Samuels Smith, performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center (nominated)


For astonishing audiences with idiosyncratic kineticism, rigorous intellectualism, and thrilling use of boundary-breaking movement elements, in a stark and startling dialogue between Flamenco's golden age and its many possible futures, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Production goes to Israel Galvan for La Edad de Oro at The Joyce Theater.

ISRAEL GALVAN de los REYES is a famous Spanish flamenco dancer and choreographer. He was born in Seville. He became a celebrity in flamenco thanks to his dancing steps with complicated feet movements. He has been awarded several dance prizes.

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION (of a work performed in a smaller capacity venue of less than 400 seats):

Twin Pines by Keely Garfield, performed at Danspace Project (nominated)

NOX by Rashaun Mitchell performed at Danspace Project (nominated)


For daring to create a 21st century drama where post modern dance, voguing and Greek tragedy collide, and in so doing offer new possibilities for the future of performance, A 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Production goes to Trajal Harrall for Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church at New York Live Arts.

TRAJAL HARRELL'S work has been presented at many venues including The Kitchen, Danspace Project, Dance Theater Workshop, P.S. 122, Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) Boston, Dance Mission (San Francisco, CA), the former San Francisco Institute of Choreography, among others. Internationally, his work has toured to international festivals in France, Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Croatia, and Mexico including prestigious festivals such as such as Rencontres Chorgraphiques-Paris, Festival d'Avignon, Impulstanz-Vienna, TanzimAugust- Berlin, and Panorama Festival- Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. A graduate of Yale University with a B.A. in American Studies with a concentration in Creative Processes, he has been an artist-in-residence at The White Oak Residency and Dance Center, Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Movement Research, Bennington College, CDC Toulouse, and ICA Boston, among others.

OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION (of a work in the expanding field of new art, dance, and performance practice):

The Rehearsal by Cuqui Jerez, performed at Performance Space 122, and the French Institute's Crossing the Line Festival at the Performing Garage (nominated)

Big Girls Do Big Things by Eleanor Bauer, performed in Perfoma 11 at New York Live Arts, and in American Realness at Abrons Arts Center (nominated)


For gently and deftly coaxing an audience into a community, holding them spellbound with stories spoken and unspoken; For seamlessly interweaving Blackfish's music with the magical transformations of paper into ice, and dry leaves into water; For reminding us that we all come from a place unknowable, yet known, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Production goes to Emily Johnson for The Thank-you Bar at New York Live Arts.

EMILY JOHNSON is a director/choreographer/curator, originally from Alaska and currently based in Minneapolis. Since 1998 she has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances often function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment - sights, sounds, smells - interacting with a place's architecture, history, and role in community. She works to blur distinctions between performance and daily life and to create work that reveals and respects multiple perspectives. Emily is a 2011 Native Arts and Cultures Fellow, a 2010 and 2009 MAP Fund Grant recipient, a 2009 McKnight Fellow and a 2009 and 2011 MANCC Choreographer Fellow.


Fort Blossom revisited (2000/2012) by John Jasperse, performed at New York Live Arts (nominated)

Roaratorio by Merce Cunningham, performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (nominated)


For taking its audience on a 21st century journey down an urban rabbit hole, beginning with a surreal ride to an unknown destination, and culminating in a frightening journey through a dark warren full of noise, bodies and violence, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Revival goes to The Shining By Yvonne Meier, presented by New York Live Arts and performed at the Invisible Dog Art Center.

Originally created and performed in 1992 at Performance Space 122 and reconstructed in 1995 at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, The Shining is a dance-installation work full of thrill and fearful anxiety. It speaks of experiences at once sought and avoided - how do we hide from fear, play with thrills and terrors? How do those emotions excluded from consciousness play with us? This second reconstruction features original cast members, Scott Heron, Annie Iobst, and Mike Iveson, with new cast members, Yve Laris Cohen, Jen Rosenblit, Aki Sasamoto, Osmani Tellez, Arturo Vidich, and Emily Wexler, and special guest appearances from Hapi Phace, Stinkmetal, and Gina Varla Vetro.


Wendall Harrington and Simon Pastukh, for set and projection design for Firebird by Alexei Ratmansky performed by American Ballet Theatre (nominated)

Company XIV, for light, set and costume design, for Snow White by Company XIV performed at 303 Bond Street (nominated)

Christine Shallenberg, for lighting design for Restless Eye by David Neumann, performed at New York Live Arts (nominated)


For transporting us into a hurricane-drenched apocalyptic world, where a cardboard home slowly melted into oblivion under steady torrential rain in real time over the stretch of the performance, a brilliant technical achievement that perfectly matched the artistic intent of the work, a 2012 NY Dance and Performance Award for Visual Design goes to Doris Dziersk for Meg Stuart's Blessed at New York Live Arts.


Alex Waterman for Show by Maria Hassabi performed at the Kitchen (nominated)

Christian Wolff, John King, David Behrman, and Takehisa Kosugi for Event by Merce Cunningham performed at the Park Avenue Armory (nominated)

Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, Dhaneswar Swain, Prasanna Rupatilake, and Surupa Sen for Samhara by Surupa Sen performed by Nrityagram Dance Ensemble at The Joyce Theater (nominated)


For a driving, ebullient, viscerally live score with its varied influences of ndombolo, jazz, traditional, rock, and more,For creating a sea of rhythm that ranged from, political protest songs to music of sheer pleasure, A 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Music Composition goes to Flamme Kapaya and his bandfor Faustin Linyekula's more more more. future performed at the Kitchen.

Flamme Kapaya is recognized as one of the best guitar soloists of his generation. He lives and works in Paris and Kinshasa. Kapaya was raised in a musical tradition. He was first trained by his brother Bavon, and his grandfather, a traditional chief in the Bandundu area, was also a gifted musician. As a teenager in Kinshasa, he began by singing in local traditional groups. A self-taught guitarist, Kapaya draws his inspiration from various musical genres including jazz (especially George Benson), classical, and Latin music. In 1997, he joined the legendary ndombolo group, Maison mère, accompanying the Congolese singer Werrason. With the group, as a musician but also as a composer and producer on numerous albums, he became Flamme, taking his name from Captain Flamme, a 1980s cartoon hero. He performed with Maison mère for 10 years, taking part in several international tours. In 2007, he met Faustin Linyekula, accompanying the performances of his piece Festival of Lies at the Avignon Festival in July 2007 and at the Faïencerie Théâtre in Creil / France in May 2008. In August 2008, he joined Linyekula for two performances in Berlin as part of the 20th anniversary of the Tanz im August Festival. Kapaya also composed the music of Bérénice, staged by Linyekula at the Comédie Française in 2009, as well as the score of Pour en finir avec Bérénice, which premiered at the Avignon Festival in 2010 and tours to the Chaillot National Theater (Paris) and KVS (Brussels) in 2011. In December 2011, Flamme released his first solo album, Banningsville, produced by the Studios Kabako.


Jennifer Weber and DECADANCE colleagues for DECA performed at Joyce Soho (nominated)

Liz Santoro for We Do Our Best performed at Danspace Project (nominated)

Lee Sher and Saar Harari for Fame performed at Montclair State University (nominated)


For his choreographic candor and carefully calibrated work examining grief, spirits, words and movement in NOX; For his advancement of technical virtuosity; And for drawing out powerful and personal expression from his dancers and designers, generously collaborating and giving them the stage, The 2012 Bessie Award for Emerging Choreographer goes to Rashaun Mitchell.

RASHAUN MITCHELL was born in Stamford, Connecticut, and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2000. Shortly after, he received the Viola Farber-Slayton Memorial Grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Art, which allowed him to move to New York to pursue dance projects with an array of artists, including Chantal Yzermans, Donna Uchizono, Risa Jaroslow, Sara Rudner, Jonah Bokaer, Richard Colton, Rebecca Lazier and Silas Riener. In 2007 he was the recipient of a Princess Grace Award: Dance Fellowship, anD received a 2011 New York Dance and Performance Bessie Award for sustained achievement in the work of Merce Cunningham (2004-2012). His own work has been presented by Danspace Project, La Mama Moves Festival, Mount Tremper Arts in New York; and with writer Anne Carson at the Skirball Center at NYU, Summer Stages/ The Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston, the OMiami Festival, College of St. Elizabeth, Wellesley College, University of Minnesota, and Princeton University.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER (nominated by the committee looking at work performed in a larger capacity venue of more than 400 seats):

Shantala Shivalingappa in Swayambhu by Shantala Shivalingappa performed in World Music Institute at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (nominated)

David Hallberg for his work with The Bolshoi Ballet and American Ballet Theatre (nominated)


Amid a company of unforgettable dancers, his electric, thrilling high-wire solo pushed the limits of physics and induced gasps and spontaneous applause. For transcendent and breathlessly immediate dancing in Merce Cunningham's Split Sides at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Performance goes to Silas Riener in Merce Cunningham's Split Sides.

SILAS RIENER grew up in Washington DC. He graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Comparative Literature and certificates in Creative Writing and Dance. He has worked with Chantal Yzermans, Takehiro Ueyama, Christopher Williams, Jonah Bokaer, and Rebecca Lazier's TERRAIN, and is currently dancing for Tere O'Connor. Since 2010 he has collaborated with poet Anne Carson and choreographer Rashaun Mitchell, with whom he continuesto develop new projects. In 2011 he choreographed a site-specific performance at the Storefront for Art and Architecture with the Harrison Atelier, and will premiere a new work in February 2012 at The Invisible Dog.He was a member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company from November 2007 until its closure at the end of 2011. While performing with MCDC, Riener completed his MFA in Dance at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. He is currently on faculty at NYU's Playwrights Horizons, and Gallim Dance's Clinton Hill Arts Center.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER (nominated by the committee looking at work that stretches the boundaries of a culturally specific form):

Gianne Abbott in Brazil! Brazil! performed at the New Victory Theater (nominated)

Jessica Alejandra Wyatt in Asuka by Eduardo Vilaro, performed by Ballet Hispanico at the Apollo Theater and at The Joyce Theater (nominated)


She can, with grace and eloquence, both fiercely attack and tenderly caress each of Charlie Parker's notes; for years spent joyously championing the art of tap, and for inspired performing in the work of Jason Samuels Smith at The Joyce, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Sustained Achievement in Performing goes to Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards.

DORMESHI SUMBRY-EDWARDS has been apart of almost every major Tap movie or show that has appeared in the history of tap dance since the 80's. She was nominated for best actress for her starring role in the award-winning Independent film "The Rise and Fall of Miss Thang". She was also elected to the Advisory Board as the Tap Advisor for Dance Magazine and the official Tap Spokesperson for Capezio along with her family, as well as being featured in their international advertising campaign.Mrs. Sumbry-Edwards was also the private tap instructor to the iconic Michael Jackson over the course of 11 years.Mrs. Sumbry-Edwards career includes acclaimed runs on Broadway and off-Broadway in shows such as Black and Blue, the Tony Award Winning Bring In Da'Noise, Bring In Da'Funk, and the International Tour of Bring in Da'Noise, Bring in Da'Funk.

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER (nominated by the committee looking at work performed in a smaller capacity venue of less than 400 seats):

Ryoji Sasamoto in Glowing by Kota Yamazaki, performed at the Japan Society (nominated)

Silas Riener for sustained achievement in the works of Merce Cunningham and in NOX by Rashaun Mitchell (nominated)


Equally compelling and equally at home in dances as aesthetically diverse as post-Judson minimal, fanciful postmodern, or relentlessly physical movement work, she is a fascinating chameleon - a dancer of unique versatility. For bringing skill and honesty to every performance in the work of Keely Garfield, Ralph Lemon, David Gordon, and Urban Bush Women, and many others A 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Sustained Achievement in Performance goes to Omagbitse Omagbemi.

OMAGBITSE OMAGBEMI received her BFA in dance from Montclair State University. She has performed nationally and internationally with companies such as Sean Currran, Kevin Wynn Collection, Shapiro and Smith, Urban Bush Woman, Jeremy Nelson, Risa Jaralow, Barbara Mahler, Keely Garfield, and Christopher Williams.8).

OUTSTANDING PERFORMER (nominated by the committee looking at work in the expanding field of new art, dance, and performance practice):

John Fleck in Mad Women by John Fleck, performed at La MaMa (nominated)

Emily Wexler in Mad Heidi by Yvonne Meier, performed in American Realness at Abrons Arts Center (nominated)


For her heroically serene, crystal-clear, mysterious, sweat-drenched and angelic execution of a rigorous 80 minute dance filled with metronomic and fearless striding, backwards into space in Sarah Michelson's beautifully severe "Devotion Study #1 - The American Dancer" at the Whitney Biennial, a 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Performance goes to
Nicole Mannarino.

NICOLE MANNARINO is a dancer based in Brooklyn, NY. She has worked with Kyle Abraham, Beth Gill, and Juliana May. She is also a rock climber and teaches at the Manhattan Plaza Rock Wall.


The Bessies are pleased to announce the return of the Juried Bessie Award for its second year. The panel, Lar Lubovitch, Yvonne Rainer, and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, has chosen to honor Souleymane Badolo as its 2012 recipient. The award is given to an artist who the jury believes is investigating some of the more interesting and exciting ideas happening in dance in New York City today. The honored dance maker will tour his work to regional theaters partnering with the Juried Bessie Award in the coming year. The Jury announced their decision on July 18, 2012 during the Bessie Awards annual press conference, held at the French Institute/Alliance Franciase (FIAF).

In speaking of their choice, the Jury said they were interested in the way Souleymane Badolo's work combines a number of different dance traditions, drawing on West African dance and making use of improvisation and experiment. As juror Lar Lubovitch put it, "Souleymane brings a unique history to his artistic point of view, and embodies it within a passionate physical language that can engage the viewer both intellectually and emotionally." The jury was also appreciative of the desire of the inaugural touring partner Nazareth Dance Festival to build and stretch its audience's view of the dance arts, and felt Mr. Badolo would be an excellent choice in that endeavor. In the words of juror Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, "I truly appreciate his commitment to innovation, ritual, culture, and personal narrative. He is the real deal."

Dancer and choreographer Souleymane Badolo, is known for his contemporary interpretations of traditional African dance. He began his dance career at DAMA, and founded his dance company, Kongo Ba Teria in Ouagadougou, Burkino Faso in 1993; he has toured throughout Africa, Europe and North America. He has participated in DTW's Studio Series, Harlem Stage's E-Moves Series, and Dance Under the Influence at the Museum of Art and Design. In 2010, Mr. Badolo premiered a commissioned solo work, Yaado (Cemetery), for I Got Lost, Platform 2012 at Danspace. He teaches contemporary dance at Bennington College.

"I am so very honored and excited to be this year's recipient of the Juried Bessie Award," says Mr. Badolo. "Thank you to the Jury and thank you to the many people who have made this possible, including Nora Chipaumire, Reggie Wilson, Ralph Lemon, Jawole Zollar, Bennington College, and so many others. I want to thank my dad and mom; they are not anymore in this life, but I know somewhere they are listening." Badolo, who could not be present at the announcement, recorded his speech in both English and French for the occasion.

The Nazareth College Arts Center Dance Festival was the inaugural touring partner for the Juried Bessie Award. Beth Gill, the 2011 award recipient, is currently performing at the 2012 festival at the Nazareth College Arts Center in Rochester, NY. Nazareth College President Daan Braveman says, "We are proud to have served as the inaugural touring partner for the newly established Juried Bessie Award. The Nazareth College Arts Center has a long history of presenting dance companies on our stage. It is an honor to partner with the prestigious New York Performance and Dance Awards and play a role in introducing emerging choreographers to the cultural community here in Rochester, NY. Our audiences have enjoyed seeing Beth Gill's Electric Midwife this week as part of our Summer Dance Festival, and we hope that Gill's experience here has been a rewarding one. We look forward to welcoming the recipient of the 2012 Juried Bessie Award next summer."

NYS DanceForce to partner with the Juried Bessie Award

The New York State DanceForce, a statewide network of dance activists dedicated to linking artists and communities across New York State, has announced that its members are committed to partnering with the Juried Bessie Award. They will work with the recipient of the annual award to create further opportunities for that artist to bring their work to dance centers across the state.

The New York Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, were established in 1983 by David White at Dance Theater Workshop, in honor of the treasured dancer and teacher Bessie Schonberg, and acknowledge outstanding creative work by independent artists in the fields of dance and related performance in New York City. They honor exceptional choreography, performance, music composition, visual design and others areas of dance and performance. The award recipients are chosen by The Bessie Selection Committee, which consists of artists, dance presenters, producers, journalists, critics and academics. The awards are produced in partnership with Dance/NYC. www.dancenyc.org/bessies

Dance/NYC is a branch of Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance. Dance/NYC's mission is to sustain and advance the professional dance field in New York City- serving as the voice, guide and infrastructure architect for all local dance artists and managers. The organization achieves this mission through: advocacy, research and convening. As a convener, Dance/NYC aims to connect and educate our constituency-strengthening the collective voice for dance. www.dancenyc.org

+ Add An Event