The Bessie Awards announce 2015 nominees

New York Dance and Performance AwardsThe New York Dance and Performance Awards (“The Bessies”), New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, have 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. See the full list of nominations below.


The 31st Annual Bessie Awards will take place on Monday, October 19 at 7:30 p.m. 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, in turn creating “a cinematic choreographic vision for new dance narratives and abstract movement-based works.”


2015 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer AwardThis year’s Bessies Jury—Susan Marshall, Shen Wei and Reggie Wilson—named Pavel Zuštiak as the recipient of the 2015 Juried Bessie Award. Zuštiak 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 NYC through a partnership with the New York State DanceForce, a statewide network of arts organizers and presenters.


The 2015 Bessie Nominations


Outstanding Production

Employee of the Year by 600 HIGHWAYMEN at FIAF/Crossing the Line

 – Antigona by Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca at The Joyce Theater

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

This by Neil Greenberg at New York Live Arts

Rodney King by Roger Guenveur Smith at BRIC

Retrospective by Xavier LeRoy at MoMA PS1/Crossing the Line

– Music and Dance from Myanmar by Shwe Man Pwe at Asia Society

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

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

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

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

Umnikelo by Vuyani Dance Theatre Project at Fall for Dance, New York City Center


Outstanding Revival 

The Sleeping Beauty by Alexei Ratmansky for American Ballet Theatre


Outstanding Performer/s

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

– Michelle Boulé for her body of work with Miguel Gutierrez

– Lawrence Cassella for sustained achievement in the work of Ivy Baldwin (posthumous)

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

– Robert Fairchild in An American in Paris at 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 for their live performance following the NYC premiere of Pharaohs of Memphis as part of the DAMN! Film Series at TheaterLab Annex

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

– Amar Ramasar for his work with New York City Ballet

– Ryoji Sasamoto in OQ by Kota Yamazaki at 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 at Abrons Arts Center (co-presented by The Chocolate Factory)

– Robyn Orlin | Compagnie Jant-Bi for 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 at Peak Performances at Montclair State University

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

– Kate Valk, Bobby McElver and Max Bernstein for Early Shaker Spirituals by The Wooster Group
 at 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 at HERE Art Center

– Lemi Ponifasio and Helen Todd for Birds with Skymirrors at 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) and Rachel McIntosh (Specialty Props Designer) for The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobelle at BAM Fisher


Photo (top right): Pavel Zuštiak, the recipient of the 2015 Juried Bessie Award. Photo courtesy of the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Photo (left): Storyboard P, the recipient of the Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award. Photo courtesy of Storyboard P.