The Bessies announce the 2016 recipients

2016 Bessie for Lifetime Achievement in DanceThe NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, announced the complete list of the 2015–16 season award recipients at the 32nd Annual Bessie Awards ceremony on Tuesday, October 18. 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. (See the full list of 2016 Bessie Award recipients below.)


The 32nd Annual Bessie Awards were held at the BAM Howard Gilman Opera House at 7:30 pm, following red carpet interviews and pre-show celebrations. BAM President Katy Clark, NY Dance and Performance Awards Executive Director Lucy Sexton and Dance/NYC Executive Director Lane Harwell gave opening remarks and acclaimed choreographer, writer and comedian Adrienne Truscott hosted the ceremony.


Tap tribute to 2016 Lifetime Achievement in Dance recipient Brenda Bufalino.The evening 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), as 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.


Composer and director Meredith Monk presented Eiko Otake with a Special Citation for her A Body in Places platform, presented and produced by Danspace Project. Dancer Ayodele Casel presented Brenda Bufalino with the 2016 Bessie for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. Judy Hussie-Taylor, executive director and 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.


2016 NY Dance and Performance AwardsAlex 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, Ishmael Houston-Jones, Judith Jamison, Amar Ramasar, Regg Roc, Carlota Santana and Alice Sheppard.


The 2016 Bessie Awards were produced in partnership with Dance/NYC and presented in partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music.


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



Eiko Otake

2015 Danspace Project Platform: A Body in Places

For making herself “radically available” in public and private spaces over several weeks, actively engaging with pressing political and environmental issues of our time. For collaborating with a wide range of artists through performances, readings, films, discussions and rituals to evoke the power and meaning of the human body inhabiting a planet in crisis.



Brenda Bufalino

For her visionary work ensuring the future of the American art form of tap dance with the formation of the American Tap Dance Orchestra and Foundation. For introducing innovative concepts to tap choreography and for inspiring a new generation of tap artists to expand the art form.



Alex Smith

For his 21-year commitment to the presentation and preservation of dance by choreographers of color through the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center. For offering emerging and established artists performance opportunities and for developing audiences from underserved and underrepresented



The Jerome Robbins Dance Division of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

For giving the ephemeral art of dance a rich afterlife through its unrivalled collection of video, writing, photos, choreographers’ notes and more. Thanks to decades of work by dedicated staff and leadership, dance’s past is there to be remembered, recovered, discovered and imagined.



Souleymane Badolo for Yimbégré at BAM Fisher

For investigating the artist’s experience of home and not home, of African and American identity, of ancient rhythms and modern jazz in a work that gloriously communicated the clash and reconciliation of the different traditions held within one’s life, one’s body.


Pat Graney for Girl Gods at Peak Performances at Montclair State University

For a visually stark and surreal depiction of the emotions, strength and rage of generations of women and girls struggling under the constraints of society’s image of what it is to be female.


Maria Hassabi for PLASTIC at MoMA

For masterfully transforming the museum environment into an inclusive performance space in which the viewer’s gaze was directed from performer to spectator, putting all bodies on display.


Ralph Lemon for Scaffold Room at The Kitchen

For a complex meditation on the black female experience in our culture, exploring its expression, projection and manipulation. For mining Southern family stories and pop culture icons to create a work that troubled, entertained and challenged its audience.



Ephrat Asherie

For her body of work

For a presence and a skill that is immediate and unmistakable, explosive and captivating. For her vibrant contributions to the works of Michelle Dorrance, Doug Elkins, Rennie Harris, Bill Irwin, Cori Olinghouse, Gus Solomons Jr. and others.


Kazunori Kumagai

For Live at the Blue Note

For his powerful athletic technique combined with a riveting clarity. For extending the improvisational tradition of tap with a show danced in dialogue with musicians Alex Blake, Bill Ware and Samuel Torres at the Blue Note.


Molly Lieber

For her body of work

For her introspective and tenacious performances, demonstrating her clear intention and visceral choices, and embodying the choreographic intention of a wide range of artistic processes in the work of luciana achugar, Maria Hassabi and Donna Uchizono.


Jamar Roberts

Sustained Achievement with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

For impeccably representing the traditional values of classic modern dance while forging new paths with his sublime artistry, technical precision and passionate presence 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

For building a sound system which enabled an infinitely varied aural world, using drums, percussion instruments, pieces of paper, mobile phones, wine bottles and more. The percussionists and dancers equally inhabited an ever-changing composition in Rebecca Lazier’s There Might Be Others.



Holly Batt

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

For creating an immersive and interactive environment of boxes that metamorphosed in tone and purpose, from towering backdrop to dresser drawers to ritual containers for Pat Graney’s Girl Gods.


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All photos by AK47 Division.