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The Bessies Announces Town Hall on October 26 and 36th Annual Ceremony on December 14, 2020

The Bessies Announces Town Hall on October 26 and 36th Annual Ceremony on December 14, 2020

Published on October 23, 2020
Photo: Georgia de Lotz / Unsplash

The NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, announced today that it will present a virtual event this year to honor the 2019–20 nominees. The 36th annual Bessies ceremony, to be held on Monday, December 14, will be a place for the dance and performance community to come together in solidarity, support, and celebration during these continuing challenging times. Selection Committee members attended hundreds of performances prior to the shutdown and were able to complete the nomination process. Those nominees will be recognized during the ceremony, and will receive the traditional $500 honorarium, courtesy of a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In acknowledgement of the artists who were unable to present their work due to the pandemic, the committee decided to forego presenting individual awards this year. 

AK47 Division. Photo credit: The Bessies

Incorporating both traditional and new elements, the event will serve as a place for the community to acknowledge the challenges of our time while also offering the kind of forward-thinking vision and spirit the dance community is known for. In addition to recognizing nominated artists in the categories of Outstanding Production, Outstanding Revival, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Music Composition or Sound Design, and Outstanding Visual Design, the event will pay tribute to the often unsung but essential members of the community who work behind the scenes and are central to the process of bringing live and online dance and performance to audiences in New York City.

“This past year has presented unprecedented challenges, but the NYC dance community has responded to them with creativity and compassion,” said Martin Wechsler, Chair of The Bessies Steering Committee. “Due to the impact of Covid-19, we decided it was not appropriate to give awards this year. That said, an equally important aspect of the annual Bessies’ ceremony is to gather together as a community; reflect on our collective experience; celebrate our accomplishments; mourn our losses; and lift up our work publicly. We look forward to sharing The Bessies this year in the digital space.” 

Nick Cave's "The Let Go" at Park Avenue Armory, winner of The Bessies 2019's Outstanding Production category. Photo: James Ewing

Additional details about the event in December will be announced in the coming weeks. Updated information about the Bessies and plans for the 2020–21 season will be discussed at the Bessies Town Hall event, hosted by Gibney, on Monday, October 26, from 5:30 to 7pm. To RSVP for the Town Hall, please visit Gibney’s calendar page at:

The 2020 Bessie Awards Steering Committee, responsible for setting policy and providing oversight for the Bessie Awards throughout the year, is comprised of Cora Cahan, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Jeanne Linnes, Stanford Makishi, Nicky Paraiso, Carla Peterson, Craig Peterson, Gus Solomons jr, Paz Tanjuaquio, Laurie Uprichard, Charmaine Warren, Martin Wechsler, and Eva Yaa Asantewaa.            

The 2019–2020 Bessie Awards Selection Committee: Ronald Alexander, Maria Baranova-Suzuki, Elise Bernhardt, Charles Vincent Burwell, Diana Byer, Michele Byrd-McPhee, Tymberly Canale, Boo Froebel, Angela Fatou Gittens, Diane Grumet, Mai Lê Hô, Iréne Hultman, Celia Ipiotis, Koosil-ja, Nicole Mannarino, Jessica Massart, Craig Peterson, Pam Pietro, Rajika Puri, Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Susan Reiter, George Emilio Sanchez, E. Gaynell Sherrod, Ed.D, Andrea Snyder, Sally Sommer, Risa Steinberg, Carrie Stern, Ivan Talijancic, Catherine Tharin, Philip Treviño, Muna Tseng, Tony Waag, William Whitener, Sangeeta Ghosh Yesley, and Layla Zami.

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