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The Bessies Announces 2012 Award Nominees

The Bessies Announces 2012 Award Nominees


Friday, July 20, 2012 - 5:15am

The New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka The Bessies, announces its nominees for the 2011-2012 season, as well as the recipient of the Juried Bessie Award, Souleymane Badolo.

The New York Dance and Performance Awards
Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC,
a branch of the national dance service organization Dance/USA


2012 Bessie Jury: Lar Lubovitch, Yvonne Rainer and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, Present Second Annual Juried Bessie Award to Souleymane Badolo

The Bessies Announces 2012 Award Nominees

The New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka The Bessies, announces its nominees for the 2011-2012 season, as well as the recipient of the Juried Bessie Award, Souleymane Badolo.

"This years Bessies' nominees demonstrate the vibrancy and diversity of dance and performance in our city. The nominees show how the arts can lead us all through times of challenge and change," says Lane Harwell, Chair of the Bessies Steering Committee. "We are especially delighted to announce the Juried Award recipient and a new partnership with The New York State DanceForce to connect this emerging artist to venues and artists throughout the state."

Juried Bessie Award

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 Françiase (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."

BREAKING NEWS: 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. Full details will be announced at the Bessie ceremony in October.

The Bessies Return to The Apollo Monday October 15, 2012 at 8pm

The Bessie Awards are very excited to announce that its second year at one of the country's most renowned and historic venues-Harlem's Apollo Theater. To be presented in collaboration with the Apollo, and produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, the 2012 Bessies ceremony will once again host the city's expanding, diverse dance community, a significant portion of which has been directly inspired or affected by performances at the Apollo.

Mikki Shepard, Executive Producer of the Apollo Theater, says "The inaugural presentation of the Bessies at the Apollo was one of the highlights of our year. We look forward to another inspiring awards presentation and welcome the dance community to join us at the Apollo to celebrate dance in New York."

The land-marked Apollo Theater has played a pivotal role in American culture since the 1930s. The Apollo's signature Amateur Night talent competition is known around the world, and its legacy of launching and nurturing talent and presenting seminal music, dance, and entertainment performances is unparalleled.

Final Works for Each 2012 Award Category

Outstanding Production (of a work performed in a larger capacity venue of more than 400 seats):
- Event by Merce Cunningham, performed at the Park Avenue Armory
- Preludes and Fugues by Emanual Gat, performed by Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve at the Joyce Theater
- Samhara performed by the Nrityagaram Dance Troupe at the Joyce Theater

Outstanding Production (of a work that stretches the boundaries of a traditional or culturally specific form):
- La Edad de Oro by Israel Galvan, performed at the Joyce Theater
- Dingle Diwali by the Darrah Carr Dance Company with guest choreographer Sean Curran, performed at Symphony Space
- Jazz Meets Flamenco by Juan de Juan and Jason Samuels Smith, performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center

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
- NOX by Rashaun Mitchell, performed at Danspace Project
- Antigone Sr./Twenty Looks or Paris is Burning at the Judson Church by Trajal Harrell, performed at New York Live Arts

Outstanding Production (of a work not technically considered dance but happening in and influencing dance in New York):
- The Rehearsal by Cuqui Jerez, performed at Performance Space 122, and the French Institute's Crossing the Line Festival at the Performing Garage
- 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
- The Thank-you Bar by Emily Johnson, performed at New York Live Arts

Outstanding Revived Work:
- Fort Blossom revisited by John Jasperse, performed at New York Live Arts
- The Shining by Yvonne Meier, presented by New York Live Arts
- Roaratorio by Merce Cunningham, performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music

Outstanding Visual Design:
- Wendall Harrington and Simon Pastuk, for set and projection design for Firebird by American Ballet Theatre
- Company XIV, for light, set and costume design, for Snow White, performed at 303 Bond Street
- Doris Dziersk, for set design for Blessed by Meg Stuart, performed at New York Live Arts
- Christine Shallenberg, for lighting design for Restless Eye by David Neumann, performed at New York Live Arts

Outstanding Sound Design or Composition:
- Alex Waterman for Show by Maria Hassabi, performed at the Kitchen
- Christian Wolf, John King, David Behrman, and Takehisa Kosugi for Event by Merce Cunningham, performed at the Park Avenue Armory
- Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, Dhaneswar Swain, Prasanna Rupatilake, and Surupa Sen for Samhara by Nrityagram, performed at the Joyce Theater
- Flamme Kapaya and band for more more more . . . future, by Faustin Linkyekula, performed at the Kitchen in the French Institute's Crossing the Line Festival

Outstanding Emerging Choreographer:
- Jennifer Weber and DECADANCE colleagues for DECA, performed at Joyce Soho
- Liz Santoro for We Do Our Best, performed at Danspace Project
- Lee Sher and Saar Harari for Fame, performed at Montclair State University
- Rashaun Mitchell for NOX, performed at Danspace Project

Outstanding Performer (of a work performed in a larger capacity venue of more than 400 seats):
- Shantala Shivalingappa in Swayanbhu by Shantala Shivalingappla, performed in World Music Institute at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts
- Silas Riener in Split Sides by Merce Cunningham at the Brooklyn Academy of Music
- David Hallberg for his work with The Bolshoi Ballet and American Ballet Theatre

Outstanding Performer (of a work that stretches the boundaries of a traditional or culturally specific form):
- Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards for sustained achievement in performance, and her work with Jason Samuels Smith at the Joyce Theater
- Gianne Abbott in Brazil! Brazil!, performed at the New Victory Theater
- Jessica Alejandra Wyatt in Asuka by Eduardo Vilaro, performed by Ballet Hispanico at the Apollo Theater

Outstanding Performer (of a work performed in a smaller capacity venue of less than 400 seats):
- Omagbitse Omagbemi for sustained achievement in the works of Keely Garfield, Ralph Lemon, David Gordon, Urban Bush Women, and many others
- Ryoji Sasamoto in Glowing by Kota Yamazaki, performed at the Japan Society
- Silas Riener for sustained achievement in the works of Merce Cunningham and in NOX by Rashaun Mitchell

Outstanding Performer (of a work not technically considered dance but happening in and influencing dance in New York):
- John Fleck in Mad Women by John Fleck, performed at La MaMa
- Emily Wexler in Mad Heidi by Yvonne Meier, performed in American Realness at Abrons Arts Center
- Nicole Mannarino in Devotion Study #1 by Sarah Michelson, performed at the Whitney Museum

About the Bessie Awards

The Bessies will take place on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 8:00pm at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City. The 2012 ceremony will mark The Bessie Awards' second year at the Apollo Theater.

The mission of the Bessie Awards is to gather the city's many dance communities, to honor outstanding work in the field of dance, and to advocate on the national and international stage for the extraordinary range of dance being performed in New York.

Established in 1983 by David White at Dance Theater Workshop, the New York Dance and Performance Awards or Bessie Awards-in honor of the treasured dancer and teacher Bessie Schonberg-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.


Lucy Sexton is the independent producer of the Bessie Awards. A choreographer, director, and producer, she has worked in the field of dance and performance for more than 25 years. Highlights include creating the dance performance duo DANCENOISE, directing the off-Broadway play Spalding Gray; Stories Left to Tell, and producing Charles Atlas's film The Legend of Leigh Bowery. Please contact her with any questions about The Bessie Awards: thebessies@gmail.com.

The Bessie Steering Committee

The Steering Committee is responsible for setting policy and providing oversight of the Bessie Awards throughout the year. Lane Harwell, Director of Dance/NYC, is Chair of the Bessie Steering Committee.

Steering Committee Members

Cora Cahan (President, The New 42nd Street), Judy Hussie-Taylor (Artistic Director, Danspace Project), Carla Peterson (Artistic Director, Dance Theater Workshop), Elizabeth Streb (Artistic Director, Streb Extreme Action), Martin Wechsler (Director of Programming, Joyce Theater), Reggie Wilson (Choreographer, Artistic Director, Fist and Heel Performance Group), Beverly D'Anne (From 1980-2011, Director of Dance Program, New York State Council on the Arts), and Laurie Uprichard (Independent Producer and Curator).

The Bessie Selection Committee

The Bessie Selection Committee is responsible for choosing work to be awarded from the 2011-2012 season.

Selection Committee Members

Arthur Aviles, Artistic Director, Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre and the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance

Nolini Barretto, Arts Administrator, Producer, Curator

Barbara Bryan, Executive Director, Movement Research; Managing Director, John Jasperse Company; Project Director, Sarah Michelson

Kim Chan, Paul Taylor Dance Foundation, Director of Development

H.T. Chen, Artistic Director/Founder of H.T. Chen & Dancers and Chen Dance Center - School and Theater

Lili Chopra, Artistic Director of the French Institute/Alliance Francaise (FIAF)

Rachel Cooper, Director for Cultural Programs and Performing Arts, Asia Society

Blondell Cummings, Director/Choreographer/Performer and Dance Activist, Artist Director of Cycle Arts Foundation

Nancy Dalva, Dance Writer; Creator/Producer of Mondays with Merce

Andrew Dinwiddie, Performer, Creator and Co-curator of Catch

Maura Donohue, Artistic Director, Maura Nguyen Donohue /inmixedcompany; Writer, Culturebot.org; Assistant Professor of Dance, Hunter College in New York City

Joan Finkelstein, Director of Dance, New York City Department of Education

Stephen Greco, Director of Content, Classical TV

Marina Harss, regular contributor to "Goings On About Town" in the New Yorker magazine and "The Faster Times"; freelance writer for The Nation, Playbill, Ballet Review, and Pointe

Zhenesse Heinemann, Curator, Producer, Performance/Visual Artist

Andy Horwitz, Curator, Producer; Director of Public Programs, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council; Founding Editor, Culturebot.

Ryutaro Ishekane, Performance / Lens-based artist

Virginia Johnson, Artistic Director, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Founding Editor in Chief Pointe magazine, former Principal Dancer, Dance Theatre of Harlem

Fatima Kafele, Publicist and Dance Enthusiast, LIU Brooklyn

Robert LaFosse, Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, and Broadway

Ken Maldonado, Producer, Curator; Founding Director of Zia Artists and Gotham Arts Exchange

Caridad Martinez, Choreographer; Former Principal Dancer of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba; Pre-Professional Division Coordinator for the Ballet Hispanico School of Dance

Sarah Maxfield, Freelance performance-maker, curator/producer, and writer

Harold Norris, President of H-Art Management, a performing arts booking agency

Nicky Paraiso, Performer/Artist-Curator; Director of Programming, The Club at La MaMa; Curator, La MaMa Moves! Dance Festival

Morgan von prelle Pecelli, PhD., Curator, Producer, Anthropologist, and Performer; Director of Development, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council

Rokafella, Choreographer, Dancer, Founder Full Circle Soul/Full Circle Prod.

Walter Rutledge, Associate Artistic Director and Choreographer in Residence, Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theatre; Senior Writer Harlem World

Philip Sandstrom, Producer, Designer, Critic

Yoko Shioya, Artistic Director, Japan Society

Elka Samuels Smith, Artist Management, Divine Rhythm Productions, Freelance Dance Writer & Teacher

Gus Solomons Jr., Dancer/Choreographer; Artistic Director, PARADIGM, Professor, NYU/Tisch; and Writer for Dance Magazine, Gay City News, www.solomons-says.com

Ivan Sygoda, Director, Pentacle Artist Services

Muna Tseng, Choreographer, Performer, Artistic Director, Muna Tseng Dance Projects NYC

Kay Turner, Folk Arts Director, Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn-based traditional dance research and presentation

Marya Warshaw, Founder/Artistic & Executive Director, BAX/Brooklyn Art Exchange

Jay Wegman, Director, Abrons Arts Center

Adrienne Westwood, Choreographer and dancer, Co-founder of VIA Dance Collaborative, member of the Dance/NYC Junior Committee

Marya Wether

Susan Yung, Freelance culture writer and BAM's Publications Manager

Elizabeth Zimmer, dance writer, METRO and elsewhere; teacher, Hollins U and elsewhere

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