On Monday evening, September 15, 2008, Dance Theater Workshop, Danspace Project, and The Joyce Theater with the 2007-2008 Bessies Committee, presented the Twenty-Fourth Annual New York Dance and Performance Awards (a.k.a. THE BESSIES) for exceptional achievements during the 2007-2008 season. Established in 1983, THE BESSIES acknowledge outstanding creative work by independent artists in the fields of dance and related performance in New York City. Artists, press constituents, presenters, and producers in the fields of dance and related performance gathered at Speigelworld to honor their own and to celebrate the breadth and depth of ideas that make New York’s contemporary performing arts community thrive.
The Masters of Ceremony for this year’s event were Terry Dean Bartlett and Katie Workum. Special site-specific performances included an excerpt from Adrienne Truscott’s genesis, no! and sections from Ursula Eagly’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. The evening also featured a live musical performance by The Dang-it Bobbys, appearances by members of Circus Amok, and the music of DJ Crazy Cuban (aka Alberto Denis).
The award ceremony included 24 citations honoring individuals for achievements during the 2007-2008 season in the following categories: Choreographer/Creator, Installation & New Media, Performer, Composer, Visual Design, and Special Citations. The award recipients, who represent a wide range of contemporary dance aesthetics in the performing arts community, each received cash awards along with their citations.
Choreographer/Creator Award recipients were Back to Back Theatre, for Small Metal Objects at the Staten Island Ferry Terminal; Nora Chipaumire, for Chimurenga, at Dance Theater Workshop; Doug Elkins, for Fraulein Maria at Joe’s Pub; Juliette Mapp, for Anna, IKEA and I at Danspace Project; Maguy Marin, for Umwelt at The Joyce Theater; Tom Pearson and Zach Morris, for Vanishing Point at Danspace Project; Susan Rethorst, for 208 East Broadway, Part 2: Suitcase Dreams at Danspace Project; and Meg Stuart, for Forgeries, Love and Other Matters and Maybe Forever.
David Michalek received this year’s Installation & New Media Award for Slow Dances at Lincoln Center.
This year’s Performer Awards were given to Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for it 50th anniversary season; Hilary Clark for her body of work; William Isaac for his performance in Karole Armitage’s Connoisseurs of Chaos at The Joyce Theater; Jodi Melnick for her performaces in the works of Susan Rethorst, Vicky Shick, John Jasperse, and Donna Uchizono; Leah Morrison for her performance in Trisha Brown’s If You Couldn’t See Me at The Joyce Theater; and Layard Thompson his performances with the Pixie Harlots and in solo performances inspired by Deborah Hay.
Composer Awards were presented to Kris Bauman, for Tom Pearson and Zach Morris’ Vanishing Point at Danspace Project; Zeena Parkins, for her body of work; and Nitin Sawhney for his work in Akram Khan and Sidi Larbi Cherkauoi’s Zero Degrees at City Center.
Visual Design Awards went to Aaron Copp, for Jonah Bokaer’s The Invention of Minus One at The Abrons Art Center; Joe Lavasseur, for his body of work; and Richard Siegal, Antoine Seigneur-Guerrini, Phillip Bußman and Norbert Pape, for Richard Siegal’s As If Stranger at Danspace Project.
Special Citations were presented to Jennifer Dunning, for her service to dance as an author and New York Times dance critic; Deborah Jowitt, for her longstanding dedication as a chronicler of the dance community; and Laurie Uprichard, for her contributions to contemporary dance and performance through her leadership at Danspace Project.
The members of the 2007-2008 Bessie Award Committee are:
Nolini Barretto, Producer, Sitelines Series, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Barbara Bryan, Executive Director, Movement Research
Lili Chopra, Performing Arts Director, French Institute Alliance Française
Rachel Cooper, Director, Cultural Programs and Performing Arts, Asia Society
Boo Froebel, Associate Producer, Lincoln Center Festival
Vallejo Gantner, Artistic Director, Performance Space 122
Stephen Greco, Executive Director, Dance Theater Workshop (committee chair)
Trajal Harrell, Choreographer and Editor, Movement Research Performance Journal
Judy Hussie-Taylor, Executive Director, Danspace Project (Co-Producer)
Iréne Hultman, Choreographer
Denise Jefferson, Director, The Ailey School
Isabel Lewis, Choreographer
Brad Learmonth, Director of Programming, Harlem Stage
Brian McCormick, Journalist
Nicky Paraiso, Curator for Performance – The Club, La MaMa ETC
David Parker, Artistic Director, The Bang Group
Carla Peterson, Artistic Director, Dance Theater Workshop (Co-Producer)
Martin Wechsler, Director of Programming, The Joyce Theater (Co-Producer)
Eva Yaa Asantewaa, InfiniteBody blog; Producer and Host, Body and Soul podcast