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Minnelli, Rush & Cumming Announce 2009 Astaire Award Nominations 5/4

Minnelli, Rush & Cumming Announce 2009 Astaire Award Nominations 5/4

Patricia Watt and Ron Glucksman, Producers of the 2009 Astaire Awards, have announced that this year's Nominating Committee, Sylviane Gold (Theater Columnist for Dance Magazine), Anna Kisselgoff (former Chief Dance Critic of The New York Times), Wendy Perron (Editor in Chief of Dance Magazine), Linda Winer (Chief Theater Critic of Newsday) and Damian Woetzel (Former Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet), will announce this year's nominees from the best of Broadway and film performances and choreography this season on Monday, May 4 at 7:00pm at Elaine's Restaurant (1703 2nd Avenue at 88th Street). The Astaire Awards recognize excellence in dance on stage and in film.

The 2009 Astaire Awards Ceremony, hosted by Alan Cumming, is scheduled for June 1 at The Haft Auditorium at Fashion Institute of Technology (7th Avenue at West 27th Street). In addition to the Awards Ceremony, the night will include performances of some of the best Broadway and Hollywood dance numbers, alongside stars of the stage and screen. Liza Minnelli will present American film director and choreographer, hailed as "the King of the Hollywood musicals," Stanley Donen (Singin' In The Rain, On the Town) with the 2009 Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award. Other scheduled presenters include Tony Danza, Bebe Neuwirth and Geoffrey Rush.

The Astaire Awards, established 26 years ago by the Anglo-American Contemporary Dance Foundation, recognize outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway each season. The awards were established with the cooperation of Fred Astaire to honor him and his sister, Adele, who starred with her brother in 10 Broadway musicals between 1917 and 1931. In 2008 the Awards were expanded to include dance in choreography for film as this was the métier that brought Fred Astaire to international fame and a permanent slot on every list of the top movie stars of the century.

During their years together, the brother & sister duo delighted Broadway audiences in Over the Top, The Passing Show of 1918, Apple Blossoms, Love Letter, For Goodness Sake, The Bunch & Judy, Lady Be Good, Funny Face, Smiles and The Band Wagon. Fred Astaire starred on Broadway without sister Adele in one more show, The Gay Divorcee.

After Adele retired to marry in 1932, Astaire headed to the West Coast. Signed to RKO, he was loaned to MGM to appear in Dancing Lady before starting work on RKO's Flying Down to Rio. In the latter film, he began his highly successful partnership with Ginger Rogers with whom he danced in 10 motion pictures. Their 17 year collaboration resulted in such classics as The Barkleys of Broadway, Carefree, Follow the Fleet, The Gay Divorcee, Roberta, Shall We Dance, The Story of Vern and Irene Castle, Swing Time and the quintessentially elegant Top Hat.

During these years, he was also active in recording and radio. On film, Astaire later appeared opposite a number of partners through various studios. After a temporary retirement in 1945-7, during which he opened Fred Astaire Dance Studios, Astaire returned to film to star in more musicals. He subsequently performed a number of straight dramatic roles in film and TV. In addition to starring in the film Funny Face in 1957, he also starred in the original 1927 Broadway version of the George & Ira Gershwin musical Funny Face.

Always one of the most glamorous and eagerly anticipated events on the theatrical calendar, the Awards have paid homage to the brightest lights in the world of dance. Previous winners of awards for dance performance include: Debbie Allen, Hinton Battle, Charlotte D'Amboise, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Natalia Makarova, Donna McKechnie, Ann Miller, Bebe Neuwirth, Ann Reinking and Chita Rivera.

Previous winners of awards for choreography are such legends as George Balanchine, Michael Bennett, Patricia Birch, Wayne Cilento, Graciela Daniele, Bob Fosse, Peter Martins, Ann Reinking, Jerome Robbins, Susan Stroman, and Tommy Tune.

Last year's honorees included Spencer Liff - Best Male Dancer on Broadway for his dancing in Cry-Baby; Karen Olivo - Best Female Dancer on Broadway for her dancing in In The Heights; Rob Ashford - Best Choreography on Broadway for his work in Cry-Baby; and Dave Scott - Best Choreography in Film for his work in the film Step up 2: The Streets as well as presenting nine-time Tony Award & two-time Astaire Award-winner Tommy Tune with the first Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award.

All proceeds from the event benefit The Auditory Oral School of New York, a non-profit organization which specializes in teaching deaf and hard of hearing children to listen, talk, think and socialize in a full and barrier free environment.

The Awards for the 2009 Astaire Awards will be designed by Donna Distefano.

For more information, or to inquire about tickets or sponsorships, please contact Patricia Watt at 212-595-0924 or patricia_watt@msn.com

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