Bessies announce 2016 Lifetime Achievement & Service to the Field of Dance Awards

Tap Innovator and Choreographer wins 2016 Bessie Award for Lifetime AchievementThe NY Dance and Performance Awards, known as “The Bessies”, are New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field. On Monday, September 19, it was announced legendary tap innovator and choreographer Brenda Bufalino is the recipient of the 2016 NY Dance and Performance Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance.


The Bessie Awards chose to recognize Brenda Bufalino for her decades-long contribution to the dance field. Bufalino is a co-founder of the American Tap Dance Foundation (originally called “American Tap Dance Orchestra”), which has helped sustain and spread the art of tap dance throughout the world. A master teacher, director and performance artist, Bufalino has influenced and mentored generations of tap dancers.


This year, two Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance Awards will be presented—one to an organization and one to an individual. The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts will be honored for its invaluable archiving of material from generations of dance makers in one of the world’s leading collections. Alex Smith, executive chairman of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center, will receive a Bessie for keeping the center a vital home for choreographers of color for nearly three decades.


The three awards will be presented at the 32nd Annual Bessie Awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House.


Excitingly, The Bessies also announced on Monday that all of the 2016 nominees will receive a cash award of $500, made possible by a generous gift from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF). The grant will allow The Bessies to give cash awards to nominees for three years.


“This gesture of support for all of our nominated artists is profound,” stated Lucy Sexton, executive director of The Bessies. “We are enormously grateful to DDCF for this additional salute to the dance makers working so hard in this city.”


The 2016 Bessie Awards ceremony will include a tap tribute to Brenda Bufalino, curated by Tony Waag; a performance by Joya Powell, recipient of the 2016 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award; and Donald McKayle’s Rainbow ’Round My Shoulder, performed by Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (2016 Bessie for Outstanding Revival).


Tickets for the 32nd Annual Bessie Awards can be purchased by calling 718-636-4100 and online at The BAM Howard Gilman Opera House is located at 30 Lafayette Avenue in Brooklyn.


Photo: Brenda Bufalino, who will soon be honored at The Big Apple Tap Festival on November 11-13, 2016. Photo courtesy of The Bessie Awards.