The 32nd Annual New York Dance and Performance Awards

Editor in chief: Najaam Lee
Photo credit:  AK47 Division.

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An exploding night of dance, performances and celebration at the 32nd Annual Bessie Awards For Dance And Performance, held at the BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House in New York on October 18, 2016.

Awards were presented in the categories of Outstanding Production, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design, and Outstanding Visual Design, with additional awards presented for Lifetime Achievement and Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance.

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Hosting this years ceremony was choreographer, writer and comedian Adrienne Truscott. Opening speeches from  Katy Clark, President of BAM, Lucy Sexton, Executive Director of the NY Dance and Performance Awards, and Lane Harwell, Executive Director of Dance/NYC.

The night included performances by Joya Powell, recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award, an excerpt from Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder (2016 Bessie for Outstanding Revival), performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company and produced by Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, and a tap tribute to 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Dance recipient Brenda Bufalino.

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Composer and director Meredith Monk presented choreographer Eiko Otake with a Special Citation for her A Body in Places platform, presented and produced by Danspace Project.

Dancer Ayodele Casel presented tap legend Brenda Bufalino with the 2016 Bessie for Lifetime Achievement in Dance.

Judy Hussie-Taylor, Executive Director & Chief Curator of Danspace Project, and Alastair Macaulay, chief dance critic of the New York Times, presented an award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance to The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Alex Smith, Executive Chairman of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center also received an award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance, presented by Philadanco founder Joan Myers Brown.

Other presenters included Tei Blow (sound designer), Katy Clark (President, BAM), Ishmael Houston-Jones (choreographer), Judith Jamison (celebrated dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director Emerita, Alvin Ailey American Dance), Amar Ramasar (principal dancer, New York City Ballet), Regg Roc (Flex dance pioneer). Carlota Santana (Founder/Artistic Director, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana), and Alice Sheppard (dancer).

The 2016 NY Dance and Performance Awards presented at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House are as follows:

Souleymane Badolo for Yimbégré at BAM Fisher
Pat Graney for Girl Gods at Peak Performances at Montclair State University
Maria Hassabi for PLASTIC at MoMA
Ralph Lemon for Scaffold Room at The Kitchen

Ephrat Asherie for her body of work
Kazunori Kumagai for Live at the Blue Note
Molly Lieber for her body of work
Jamar Roberts for Sustained Achievement with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Dan Trueman in collaboration with Sō Percussion and Mobius Percussion
For There Might Be Others by Rebecca Lazier at New York Live Arts

Holly Batt
For Pat Graney’s Girl Gods at Peak Performances at Montclair State University


About the Bessies:

The NY Dance and Performance Awards have 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 R. White at Dance Theater Workshop. They recognize outstanding 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 about the Bessies, please visit



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