Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards

Many celebrities came to celebrate the world of dance!

By: May. 25, 2023
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Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards

The Chita Rivera Awards celebration was another once-in-a-lifetime event! On Monday, May 22, 2023, 90-year-old Chita danced onto the stage at the Skirball Center to present the Chita Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award to her friend and collaborator, 96-year-old John Kander. The mutual respect, admiration, and love for each other and the world of dance and theater had the audience cheering and crying. Chita’s career is so intertwined with dance that the hit 2005 Broadway show Chita Rivera: The Dancer’s Life was created for her, featuring many of John Kander’s songs. 

The Chita Rivera Awards were presented at NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. They were produced by Joe Lanteri, Founder and Executive Director of the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation Inc., in conjunction with Patricia Watt.

Notable presenters included Bebe Neuwirth, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jerry Mitchell, Lee Roy Reams, Jordan Roth, Derek Hough, Tony Yazback, Charlotte d’Amboise, and Riki Kane Larimer were in the theater to honor the dance and choreographic excellence of the 2022-2023 theater season. 

Funny Girl's Jared Grimes hosted the Awards and opened the evening with a song and tap dance performance that received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd. The evening ended with a performance of 36 dancers from Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studio traveling all the way from Massachusetts to share the stage with Broadway show ensembles. 

The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards were presented to John Kander, BroadwayHD founders Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, Jeffrey L. Page, Stephen Hoggett, Robyn Hurder, Jess LeProtto, Maddie Love, Gaby Diaz, Ryan Steele, Andy Blankenbueler, 13: The Musical, Everybody Dance and the ensembles of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ and New York, New York

In keeping with the mission of the Chita Rivera Awards, nominators considered outstanding choreography, featured dancers, and ensembles in shows on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as outstanding choreography in films that opened during the 2022-2023 season. For the first time, the Outstanding Dancer in a Broadway Show category was gender-free and nominated twice as many dancers as the former gendered categories.

The awards are named in honor of the legendary theater icon Chita Rivera. Chita is one of the most Tony Nominated performers in history, with a record of ten nominations, two wins, and a special Lifetime Achievement Tony. Chita trained as a ballet dancer starting at age nine. She was selected for a scholarship at the School of American Ballet, studying under George Balanchine before hitting the stage as a professional in her teens. She has appeared in starring roles in over twenty Broadway shows and toured the world, originating iconic characters in musicals such as West Side Story, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Guys and Dolls, and more. 

John Kander is a celebrated composer who wrote the scores for 15 musicals, including Cabaret and Chicago, which were later adapted into acclaimed films. His song New York, New York has become the anthem for New York City and is the title song of the new Broadway show currently playing a the St. James Theater. John had a four-decade-long writing partnership with Fred Ebb. Their collaborations garnered numerous nominations and awards, including Tonys, Emmys, and Academy Awards. 

Tony-winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell presented the Chita Rivera Ambassador For the Arts Award to BroadwayHD founders Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley. BroadwayHD was honored for its dedication to sharing the best of Broadway dance with a global audience.  Jerry Mitchell stated in his presentation speech his long-time relationship with Lane, dating back to the show Woman of the Year at the Palace Theater in 1981. Mitchell returned to The Palace Theater, which is co-owned by Lane and The Nederlander Organization, to perform in Will Rogers Follies, then to direct Legally Blonde.

“BroadwayHD gives audiences a front-row seat. It offers shows that deserve a longer run, a new lease on life, and it offers producers and creators a new way to share shows with new markets, leading to more live theater.  The founders of BroadwayHD, Tony Award-winning producers Stewart Lane and Bonnie Comley, are dear friends, and their passion for what we do as artists, preserving it and presenting it to people who can never make it to our city, is incredible, “ Mitchell said in his award presentation to Lane and Comley. 

Jeffrey L. Page, co-director and choreographer of the Broadway Revival of 1776, is an Emmy Award-nominated director and choreographer. He was presented with the Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award.  The Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award is named for the longtime Daily News theater critic and his wife. This award recognizes outstanding work that falls outside the framework of the original categories.

Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards Joe Lanteri produces the Chita Rivera Awards in association with Patricia Watt. Incorporated in the early fall of 1993, New York City Dance Alliance was founded to create a dance convention with a cutting-edge point of view from the world's dance capital, New York City. Over the next thirty years, the New York City Dance Foundation was created as a nonprofit committed to broadening performing arts awareness and investing in the next generation of professional performers. NYCDF has awarded over four million dollars in college scholarships with the support of organizations, including Dance Magazine and the Henry Buel Foundation. 

For a complete list of 2023 nominees and winners or to learn more about the Chita Rivera Awards, see: www.chitariveraawards.com

Check out photos from the awards below! Photos by J. Siskin for Rob Rich/SocietyAllure, J. Sanderson for Annie Watt, and Eugene Gologursky/GettyImages.

Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Tony Yazback
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Some Like It Hot Ensemble
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
New York, New York Ensemble 
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studio
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
McLean Mills, Bonnie Comley, Stewart F. Lane, Melissa Farber & Diana Prince
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Jess LeProtto​​​​​
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
James Blinken
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Choreographer Wayne Cilento and Bob Fosse’s Dancin Ensemble
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Bradley Shield & Jonathan Herzog
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Alyssa Sarnoff & Charlotte d'Amboise
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
A Beautiful Noise Ensemble
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
& Juliet Ensemble
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Bonnie Comley & Stewart F. Lane 
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Anna Urban & Amy Herman Schechter
Legends Are in the House: The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards
Chris Reilly (Flambeaux), Bonnie Comley & Stewart F. Lane


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