GOSH!ABOUT: The Bessie Awards Are Coming

32nd Annual Bessie Awards Are Coming

Editor in chief: Najaam Lee
Contributing Location Writer: Mitchell Acks
Photo credit: The Bessie Awards/Candace Powell Tabbs/Paul B. Goode/Steven Schreiber/Christopher Duggan/Ian Douglas

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I am super excited about the Bessie Awards, which is the equivalent to the Tony Awards.

This year, the 32nd annual Bessie Awards, presented in association with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), will take place on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, at 7:30pm, at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House.

“After five glorious years at the Apollo, we are thrilled to be bringing the awards to BAM’s historic opera house,” said Lucy Sexton, Executive Director of the Bessies. “It is in some sense a homecoming—BAM hosted the awards from 1985 to 1990—and it is especially meaningful as Brooklyn is home to so many artists.”

At this recent press conference on July 13, 2016, the announcing of the Bessie Award Nominations for 2016 and three awards were presented to the following:

The Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award was presented to Joya Powell for her passionate choreographic engagement with issues of justice and race in her communities and the country.

The Outstanding Revival Award was given to Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder” choreographed by Donald McKayle. Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder’ was recognized for giving a classic modern dance new and powerful life, transforming the mid-century portrayal of an African American prison chain gang into a searingly resonant cry for our current times.

This year’s Bessie Jury, consisted of Yoshiko Chuma, Liz Gerring, and Bill T. Jones—named Pam Tanowitz the recipient of the 2016 Juried Bessie Award. Tanowitz was recognized for using form and structure as a vehicle for challenging audiences to think, to feel, to experience movement.


This year’s 2016 Bessie Award Nominations are:

Outstanding Production:
Luciana Achugar
An Epilogue for OTRO TEATRO: True Love
Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center

Souleymane Badolo
Yimbégré: Replanting roots in the name of freedom
BAM Fishman Space

Camille A. Brown
Black Girl: Linguistic Play
The Joyce Theater

Jack Ferver and Marc Swanson
The New Museum co-presented by FIAF

Pat Graney
Girl Gods
Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University

Maria Hassabi

Heather Kravas
dead, disappears
American Realness at Abrons Arts Center

Ralph Lemon
Scaffold Room
The Kitchen

Dada Masilo
Swan Lake
The Joyce Theater

Justin Peck
Miami City Ballet
Presented by the Joyce Theater at the David H. Koch Theater

Liz Santoro & Pierre Godard
For Claude Shannon
The Kitchen

Safi A. Thomas with H+ | The Hip-Hop Dance Conservatory
Sleeping Beauty
Flamboyán Theater

Outstanding Revival (* indicates award recipient):
Get Dancing
By Andy de Groat & Catherine Galasso
Danspace Project

Rainbow ‘Round My Shoulder *
Choreographed by Donald McKayle
Performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company
Produced by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance
David H. Koch Theater


Outstanding Performer:
Ephrat Asherie
Sustained Achievement with Dorrance Dance, Doug Elkins, Bill Irwin, Gus Solomon jr., Rennie Harris, Cori Olinghouse, and many others
Nicolas Bruder
In Custodians of Beauty by Pavel Zuštiak
New York Live Arts
Omar Edwards
New Victory Theater
Paul Hamilton
For his body of work including Ralph Lemon’s Scaffold Room and the work of Jane Comfort, Keeley Garfield, Reggie Wilson, and others

Parisa Khobdeh
For her body of work with Paul Taylor Dance Company

Kazunori Kumagai
For his body of work including Live at the Blue Note Late Night Groove Series

Jennifer Lafferty
In Catacomb by Beth Gill
The Chocolate Factory

Molly Lieber
For her body of work with several artists including luciana achugar, Maria Hassabi, and Donna Uchizono

Aaron Mattocks
In Big Dance: Short Form by Big Dance Theater
The Kitchen

Gillian Murphy
Sustained Achievement with American Ballet Theatre

Aakash Odedra
In Rising
Skirball Center for the Performing Arts

Jamar Roberts
Sustained Achievement with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (* indicates award recipient):
John Heginbotham
Jillian Peña
Joya Powell *
Larissa Velez-Jackson

Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design:
Admanda Kobilka
For Clap Hands by Jen Rosenblit
Invisible Dog Art Center / New York Live Arts

Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste and Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
For #negrophobia by Jaamil Olawale Kosoko | anonymous bodies
Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center

Dan Trueman, Sō Percussion, and Mobius Percussion
For There Might Be Others by Rebecca Lazier
New York Live Arts

Ustatshakirt Plus
For Dream’d in a Dream by Seán Curran
BAM Harvey Theater


Outstanding Visual Design:
Holly Batt
For the visual and set design of Girl Gods by Pat Graney
Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University

Design Team: F. Randy deCelle, Ralph Lemon, Roderick Murray, Naoko Nagata, R. Eric
Stone, Mike Taylor, and Philip White
For the visual design of Scaffold Room by Ralph Lemon
The Kitchen

DD Dorvillier and Thomas Dunn
For the lighting and visual design of Extra Shapes by DD Dorvillier
The Kitchen

Eamonn Farrell
For the new media scenography of Forgiveness by Emily Berry | B3W Performance Group
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center





In partnership with Dance/NYC, the NY Dance and Performance Awards have produced and saluted outstanding and groundbreaking creative work in the dance field in New York City for 32 years. Known as “The Bessies” in honour 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 40-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.

To learn more and get involved , please visit www.bessies.org


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