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The Bessie Awards Announce 2015 Nominees

by Janet Stapleton
July 16, 2015
Apollo Theater
253 W 125th St.
New York, NY 10027
(212) 531-5300
The New York Dance and Performance Awards (The Bessies), New York City's premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, today announced the nominees for the 2014−15 season at its annual press conference. The 37 nominees were selected by the Bessies Selection Committee, an independent committee of 39 dance industry professionals. Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, Bessie Award categories include Outstanding Production, Outstanding Revival, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Music Composition or Sound Design, and Outstanding Visual Design. The list of nominations follows.

The 31st Annual Bessie Awards will take place on Monday, October 19, 2015, at 7:30pm, at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City. The 2015 ceremony will mark the Bessie Awards' fifth year at this historic venue.
Two 2015 awards were presented at the press conference. The Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award was presented to Storyboard P for fusing various styles of Hip-Hop with elements of modern and jazz dance, creating a cinematic choreographic vision for new dance narratives and abstract movement-based works.

This year's Bessies Jury—Susan Marshall, Shen Wei, and Reggie Wilson—named Pavel Zustiak as the recipient of the 2015 Juried Bessie Award. Zustiak was recognized for his poetic layering of movement and visual imagery, conceiving the stage space as a decentralized world in which the corporeal body is the focus and canvas for a wide range of human expression.

The jury of three acclaimed choreographers, appointed each year by the Bessies Steering Committee, is responsible for choosing a choreographer who exhibits some of the most interesting and exciting ideas in dance in New York City today. The award provides the honored dance maker with touring and residency opportunities outside of New York City through a partnership with the New York State DanceForce, a statewide network of arts organizers and presenters.

The 2015 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 2014−2015 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.

The 2015 Bessie Nominations

Outstanding Production:

Employee of the Year
FIAF/Crossing the Line

Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca
The Joyce Theater

Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon and BIGLOVELY
The Blues Project
The Joyce Theater

Neil Greenberg
New York Live Arts

Roger Guenveur Smith
Rodney King

Xavier LeRoy
MoMA PS1 and Crossing the Line

Shwe Man Pwe
Music and Dance from Myanmar
Asia Society

David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group
I Understand Everything Better
Abrons Arts Center co-presented by The Chocolate Factory

Justin Peck
Rōdē,ō: Four Dance Episodes
New York City Ballet
Lincoln Center

Lemi Ponifasio/MAU
Birds with Skymirrors
Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Pam Tanowitz
Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy)
The Guggenheim's Works & Process

Vuyani Dance Theatre Project
Fall for Dance, New York City Center

Outstanding Revival:

Alexei Ratmansky
The Sleeping Beauty
American Ballet Theatre

Outstanding Performer:

Alexandra Albrecht and Andrew Champlin
in Polly Pocket: Expansion Pack by Jillian Peña
Danspace Project

Michelle Boulé
For her body of work with Miguel Gutierrez

Lawrence Cassella
For Sustained Achievement in the work of Ivy Baldwin

Talya Epstein
in Star Crap Method by Larissa Velez-Jackson
The Chocolate Factory

Robert Fairchild
in An American in Paris
The Palace Theater

Ellen Fisher
For Sustained Achievement in Performance in the work of Meredith Monk

Lauren Grant
For her overall body of work with Mark Morris

Ryan Haskett, Daniel Price, and Lil Buck
Live Performance following NYC premiere of Pharaohs of Memphis
DAMN! Film Series
TheaterLab Annex

Juan Ogalla
in Antigona by Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca
The Joyce Theater

Amar Ramasar
New York City Ballet

Ryoji Sasamoto
in OQ by Kota Yamazaki
Japan Society

Melissa Toogood
For her body of work during the 2014−15 season in the work of Kimberly Bartosik, Merce Cunningham, Rashaun Mitchell, Stephen Petronio, Sally Silvers, Pam Tanowitz, among others.

Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (*indicates award recipient):

Yve Laris Cohen

Moriah Evans
For Social Dance 1-8: Index at Issue Project Room

Troy Schumacher
Storyboard P*

Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design:

Tei Blow
for I Understand Everything Better by David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group
Abrons Arts Center co-presented by The Chocolate Factory

Robyn Orlin | Compagnie Jant-Bi
At the same time we were pointing a finger at you, we realized we were pointing three at ourselves… by Robyn Orlin | Compagnie Jant-Bi
Peak Performances at Montclair State University

Ublado Perez Conde
for CAMBUYÓN by Enlace S.C.
The New Victory Theater

Kate Valk, Bobby McElver and Max Bernstein
for Early Shaker Spirituals by The Wooster Group
St. Ann's Warehouse

Outstanding Visual Design:

Reid Bartelme in collaboration with Harriet Jung
For body of work

Kathy Kaufmann
for Bloowst windku by Rebecca Davis
HERE Art Center

Lemi Ponifasio and Helen Todd
for Birds with Skymirrors
Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music

Design Team: Geoff Sobelle (Creator), Steven Dufala (Scenic Installation Designer)
Christopher Kuhl (Lighting Designer), Nick Kourtides (Sound Designer), Jamie Boyle (Integrated Archive Designer), Rachel McIntosh (Specialty Props Designer)
for The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobelle
BAM Fisher

Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, the New York Dance and Performance Awards have saluted outstanding and groundbreaking creative work in the dance field in New York City for 31 years. Known as "The Bessies" in honor of revered dance teacher Bessie Schönberg, the awards were established in 1984 by David White at Dance Theater Workshop. They recognize exceptional work in choreography, performance, music composition, and visual design. Nominees are chosen by a 39-member selection committee comprised of artists, presenters, producers, and writers. All those working in the dance field are invited to join the NY Dance and Performance League, as members participate in annual discussions on the direction of the awards and nominate members to serve on the selection committee.
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