Jock Soto & Carmelita Tropicana to Host 31st Annual Bessie Awards

The NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, New York City's premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, announce the lineup of special guests for the 2015 ceremony. Acclaimed former New York City Ballet principal Jock Soto and performance artist and playwright Carmelita Tropicana will host the event. The 31st Annual Bessie Awards will be held on Monday, October 19, at 7:30pm, at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City. Doors open at 6:30pm for red carpet and pre-show celebrations.

The ceremony will feature performances by Bessie Award-winning artists Camille A. Brown, Lisa Nelson, and Storyboard P, recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award.

This year's Bessie Award presenters include notable members of the dance community such as Kyle Abraham, Ella Baff, Ivy Baldwin, Ping Chong, Robin Dunn, Marcelo Gomes, Rennie Harris, Cynthia Hopkins, Sam Miller, Liz Prince, Jan Schmidt, Linda Celeste Sims, and Nancy Stark Smith.

The evening will also include special presentations to Steve Paxton, recipient of the 2015 Bessie for Lifetime Achievement in Dance, and Movement Research, for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.

Host Bios

Jock Soto was acclaimed during his 24-year career at New York City Ballet for the incomparable skill and artistry of his partnering technique, and for his versatility as a performer in both classic and contemporary neoclassical ballets. He joined New York City Ballet in 1981 and was named a principal dancer in 1985. His extensive repertoire included leading parts in numerous works by George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins, and original roles in new ballets by Peter Martins and Christopher Wheeldon, among others. His life is the subject of the award-winning documentary Water Flowing Together (2008) and the memoir Every Step You Take (Harper Collins, 2011). Soto is currently a faculty member at the School of American Ballet, the official academy of New York City Ballet. He will be performing with Wendy Whelan at BAM in November in a new dance-chamber opera, directed by David Michalek and choreographed by Bessie nominee David Neumann.

Carmelita Tropicana (aka Alina Troyano) is known for her contributions to the downtown art scene in New York City. A Cuban-American artist, her work rewrites history with subversive humor and fantasy. Tropicana's performances, plays, and videos have been presented at such venues as the Institute of Contemporary Art in London, Hebbel Am Ufer in Berlin, Mark Taper Forum's Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles, and El Museo del Barrio in New York City, among many others. She has received numerous awards, including the prestigious Anonymous Was a Woman award, fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and a 1999 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Performance.

Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, The Bessies recognize exceptional and groundbreaking work in choreography, performance, music composition, and visual design. A list of 2014?15 Bessie nominees can be found at

Tickets for the 2015 Bessie Awards start at $10 and can be purchased in person at the Apollo Theater box office; by phone through Ticketmaster (800) 745-3000; or online at The Apollo Theater is located at 253 West 125th Street, New York, NY 10027.

2014?15 Bessie Committees

The Bessie Awards Steering Committee, responsible for setting policy and providing oversight of the Bessie Awards throughout the year, is comprised of Cora Cahan, Beverly D'Anne, Lane Harwell, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Stanford Makishi, Carla Peterson, Laurie Uprichard, and Martin Wechsler.

The Bessie Awards Selection Committee consists of Nolini Barretto, Diana Byer, Kim Chan, H.T. Chen, Blondell Cummings, Nancy Dalva, Andrew Dinwiddie, Maura Donohue, Simon Dove, Boo Froebel, Laurel George, Caleb Hammons, Zhenesse Heinemann, Iréne Hultman, Robert LaFosse, Matthew Lyons, Nicole Macotsis, Caridad Martinez, Harold Norris, Nicky Paraiso, Mathew Pokoik, Susan Reiter, Rokafella, Walter Rutledge, Sue Samuels, Philip Sandstrom, Gus Solomons Jr., Sally Sommer, Risa Steinberg, Carrie Stern, Kay Takeda, David Thomson, Muna Tseng, Kay Turner, Tony Waag, Edisa Weeks, Ryan Wenzel, Adrienne Westwood, and Elizabeth Zimmer.

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