The Bessies Announce 2012 New York Dance and Performance Award Recipients


The 2012 Bessies: New York Dance and Performance Award Recipients were held on Monday, October 15, 2012 at the Apollo Theater (253 West 125th Street), hosted by Elizabeth Streb. Scroll down for a full list of the award winners!

The evening included special performances by Trisha Brown Dance Company and Souleymane Badolo and 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 and Wendy Whelan.



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.