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BWW Review: The Sixth Annual Clive Barnes Awards for Dance and Theatre

Dave Thomas Brown, Valerie Taylor-Barnes, and Gabe Stone Shayer
Photo Credit: Bill Grover
Michael Riedel and the late Clive Barnes on bench
Photo Credit: Bill Grover

The Sixth Annual Clive Barnes Awards was held at The Walter Reade Theater, a stone's throw away from the School of American Ballet, Juilliard, The Met, the Vivian Beaumont Theater, and many other acclaimed performing arts venues. The awards ceremony was an appropriate forum to announce this year's winners in the categories of dance and theatre.

The Master of Ceremonies, Michael Riedel, a theater columnist for the New York Post, introduced us to the afternoon's presentation and briefly spoke about Clive Barnes. I learned some new information about the late Mr. Barnes. What piqued my interest about Mr. Barnes was that words poured out of him in just minutes--roughly fifteen to twenty minutes to write most of his reviews. He would often attend up to three shows in a day and have all three reviews submitted to the newsroom in supersonic timing. I aspire to be as natural and timely as he was. Another interesting aspect of Barnes and his foundation that I learned during Mr. Riedel's history was that of the photo displayed on the screen, a pose of him with his book collection in the background. This was when I realized what the two of us have in common-His Life Nureyev by Diane Solway. You can't miss that bright red book spine!

Before we were told which finalists were chosen, Clive Barnes' widow, Valerie Taylor-Barnes, President of the Foundation, gave the host a bottle of bubbly, perhaps for his continued support as a Master of Ceremonies for six years. Mrs. Taylor-Barnes eloquently thanked the numerous supporters, and her presentation was both witty and off-the-cuff.

Thereafter, video clips showcased each finalist in the category of theatre: Dave Thomas Brown, Katie Boeck, Sandra Mae Frank, Jack DiFalco, and Austin McKenzie. Mr. Brown won the award for his remarkable talent demonstrated in The Legend of Georgia McBride, The Bridges of Madison County, Spring Awakening and The Tempest, to name a few. His acceptance speech was very touching, thanking his agent and even his girlfriend, who would help remove leftover make-up after returning home from his shows.

The other category began with Russell Janzen, last year's dance award winner. He acknowledged how this foundation, and especially Mrs. Taylor-Barnes, helped him alleviate some finances to help him undertake his challenging start in dancing New York City Ballet's repertoire.

Alex Sharp, another winner of the Clive Barnes Award, was unable to attend because he was in California. A video was scheduled to be shown; however he was unable to send the file. A facetious comment was made that there wasn't Internet in California.

Nonetheless, we were introduced to more video clips of the dance finalists: Joseph Gordon, Jacqueline Green, Catherine Hurlin, and Gabe Stone Shayer, who won the award and gave a grateful speech to the Board of Directors, Mrs. Taylor-Barnes, the selection committee, and to other important figures in his life. Mr. Shayer mentioned that this recognition represented a responsibility as well. I tend to believe that this means how he presented himself in his work, on and off stage.

The ceremony ended by trotting out all the finalists and award winners for this year. As in a beauty pageant, the audience was very proud and showed it with their enthusiastic applause. Mrs. Taylor-Barnes handed each artist an envelope with a generous cash prize.

The afternoon was a win-win situation--just to be nominated validated each person as a standout among that multitude of artists.

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From This Author Marsha Volgyi

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