Dance can inspire. Dance can heal. Dance can change lives. That is why the Industry Dance Awards were created, and that is why they are attended by the best of the best in the dance world. This year’s Industry Dance Awards gala on August 19 was held at the historic Avalon Theatre in Hollywood – a fitting venue for a red-carpet award event full of glitz and glamour to celebrate our art form.
But the night wasn’t just about the highs of dance of 2015; it was about the lows for many dancers across the country battling cancer. “I am a Dancer Against Cancer” is the powerful slogan of the Circle of Hope Dancers Foundation, founded by Kids Artistic Revue CEO Noah Lands to spread awareness and raise money for cancer fighting charities and provide direct financial assistance to dancers, teachers and parents fighting the disease. The Industry Dance Awards are a committed team of dedicated sponsors who have made the event not just a typical awards gala but also a Cancer Benefit, raising funds for dancers affected by the disease.
This year’s Circle of Hope honorees donned the red carpet in gorgeous gowns created especially for them by Sherri Hill, were honored onstage next to industry greats and were presented with an annual performance dedicated to them that brought tears to the audience. Dancers Against Cancer raised $150,000 with Hope Studios and Ambassadors for 19 dancers and three partner charities in Breast Cancer Angels; Lights, Camera, Cure; and Childhood Cancer of Southern California!
With tears in her eyes, Paula Abdul told Dance Informa from the red carpet that she wanted to be a part of The Industry Dance Awards because “dance takes you out of depression, elevates you from despair and it keeps you alive when you’re suffering with illness.”
“I do a lot of benefit work, so this is just incredible,” she said of the Awards. “The young [Circle of Hope] girls are amazing.”
As hosts, Robert Hoffman and Keltie Knight were a dynamic and fun team, as they took us through 25 awards and many stunning performances.
Rita Moreno, who you may know as Anita in the West Side Story movie, was presented with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award by Abdul.
Just after presenting Moreno with her award, Abdul spoke with Dance Informa about her, saying, “Everyone loves this woman. She’s done so much and she’s proven that the spirit of a dancer transcends generations and it keeps you vital and passionate. Dance is unlike any other art form. It gets into your soul, it gets into your being, it changes your life. Rita has achieved so much greatness and she’s been on the top of the game in everything that she’s done. We all aspire to be like that.”
Vanessa Hudgens, looking stunning in a mustard backless dress, was presented with the 2015 Breakthrough Performer Award by Kenny Ortega.
“The reason why I felt compelled to be here was because of Circle of Hope,” said Hudgens. “If you would have asked me two years ago what I thought of cancer I would have said, ‘Man, you know, it sucks. It’s a horrible disease,’ but that’s only because I had not been faced with it personally. Last year, my boyfriend Austin lost his mom, Lori, to cancer and my dad has recently been diagnosed with stage four cancer. Let me tell you, I hate cancer with every cell of my being. So this award means a lot to me, but I dedicate it to Lori, my dad and to all the families out there who are struggling with this.”
With stars such as Derek Hough, Mia Michaels, Ian Eastwood and of course, Hudgens and Moreno being awarded, and international stars such as original Tap Dog Aaron Cash of Australia in attendance, the evening was a celebration of Hollywood proportions. And not only were “stars” awarded, but also the hardworking dance teachers, studio owners and choreographers across the country who create stunning numbers for the competition stage each season.
Tonya Goodwillie and Tiffany Miles-Brooks from Allegro Performing Arts Academy in Seattle were clearly excited to be invited to the Awards. Their studio once again won the Best Musical Theatre Act from thousands of pieces presented in the past year, for the third time in a row!
“We are shocked. We didn’t expect to win three years in a row,” said Tonya. “I mean, just to be a nominee is really cool. There’s so many wonderful studios across the country, so we are so honored to be awarded. We’ve been having a great time. This is a cool event and we are celebrating and enjoying it.”
Contemporary choreographer TOKYO presented the Best Choreographer Award, telling us from the red carpet that he’s been supporting the Industry Dance Awards since year one. “When the Industry Dance Awards introduced me to the idea of it I was very excited. My wife and I do a lot of charity work on our own and any time we can show support and love, we try to. We’ve seen it grow and grow and grow into this incredible event and we look forward to supporting it every year.”
Designer Marcea Lane, looking stunning as always, shared that she was thrilled to be in attendance for the first time, and presenting the Best Dance Convention Teacher Award.
“It’s dance! I love to support anything to do with dance.” she exclaimed, adding, “and with the cancer foundation behind it, I love to support it because I’m a cancer survivor.”
Beautiful contemporary choreographer Bree Hafen, who was nominated for Best Choreography, was excited that the Awards were “bringing together all these different dance competitions and conventions!” She felt that the Industry Dance Awards and the Dancers Against Cancer benefit were “a very natural coupling.” Explaining that, she said, “Dance is about life and love of the art and cancer does the exact opposite of that. I think it’s quite wonderful that as dancers and as artists that we can team together to band against something so terrible for the human body.”
The Industry Dance Awards was an incredible celebration of dance and the life that it gives us. What a joyful and inspiring evening! Thank you to these generous sponsors who made it possible: Spotlight Dance Cup, Applause Talent, StarQuest, The Countdown, Masquerade, Rainbow, KAR, LADM, Tremaine, and The Pulse.
2015 Industry Dance Awards Winners:
Lifetime Achievement Recipient – Rita Moreno
2015 Dance Innovator Award – Mia Michaels
2015 Breakthrough Performer – Vanessa Hudgens
2015 New Media Influencer – Ian Eastwood
2015 Role Model Award – Carrie Ann Inaba
Dancers Choice Award – America’s Favorite Choreographer – Derek Hough
Dancers Choice Award – Favorite Dancer 17 & under – Chloe Lukasiak
Dancers Choice Award – Favorite Dance Idol – Juliane Hough
Dancers Choice Award – Favorite Dance TV Show/Film – Dance Moms
Dancers Choice Award – Favorite Dance Song – “Watch me/Nae Nae” – Silento
Dancers Choice Award – Favorite Pop Star – Taylor Swift
Dancers Choice Award – America’s Favorite Performance – Dancing With The Stars (Season 20 Finale) – Sia’s “Elastic Heart”
Best Convention Performance for Tremaine – ‘Surrender’ – Expressenz Dance Center
Best Convention Performance for The Pulse on Tour – ‘The Cave’ – CC & Co Dance Complex
Best Convention Performance for LADM – ‘Lost it to Trying’ – Royal Dance Works
IDA People’s Choice Award – ‘KnoCKin’ on Heaven’s Door’ – CK DanceWorks
Favorite Convention Teacher – Laurie Johnson
Choreography of the Year – ‘What Hold’ – Applause Studio
Best Tap Performance – ‘Come Sail Away’ – Jamies Dance Odyssey
Best Novelty/Character/Musical Theatre Performance – ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You’ – Allegro Performing Arts Academy
Best Lyrical/Modern/Contemporary Performance – ‘Run’ – Just Plain Dancin’
Best Jazz Performance – ‘Rule the World’ – Triple Threat Performing Arts
Best Hip Hop Performance – ‘That Girl’ – Temecula Dance Company
Best Ballet/Open/Acro Performance – ‘Cyber Bully’ – Fern Adair Conservatory of the Arts
Best Performance of 2015 – ‘Celine’ – Summit Dance Shoppe
By Deborah Searle of Dance Informa.
Photo (top): Joe Tremaine with some of the Tremaine Dance Faculty at the 2015 Industry Dance Awards. Photo courtesy of Industry Dance Awards.