Feature Articles

The Bessies announce 2020 nominees

Burr Johnson. Photo by Ryutaro Mishima.
Burr Johnson. Photo by Ryutaro Mishima.

The NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, has announced the nominees for the 2019–20 season. This year, all of the nominees will be honored. Each nomination will be recognized with a $500 honorarium, courtesy of a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Honorees for Lifetime Achievement, Service to the Field of Dance and 2020 Special Citation will be announced at The Bessies Ceremony. The 36th annual Bessies Ceremony will be streamed on a virtual platform on Monday, December 14, at 7:30pm ET. 

Monica Bill Barnes. Photo by David Wilson Barnes.
Monica Bill Barnes.
Photo by David Wilson Barnes.

All of the nominees being honored presented live performance work prior to the March 15 citywide shutdown due to the pandemic. In acknowledgement of the artists who were unable to present their work this season, The Bessies Steering and Selection Committees decided to forego giving individual awards this year. Artists who presented work after March 15, including on virtual platforms, are eligible for award consideration in the 2020–21 season. 

The Bessies Ceremony will be a place for the dance and performance community to come together in solidarity, support and celebration during these times of continuing challenge. The event will feature video footage of the nominated artists’ works, and will include a special tribute to the often unsung but essential members of the community who are central to the process of bringing live and online dance and performance to audiences in New York City. 

Annie-B Parson's 'American Utopia'. Photo by Mathew Murphy.
Annie-B Parson’s ‘American Utopia’.
Photo by Mathew Murphy.

“We hope to reflect the immense scope of our dance and performance community at the virtual 2020 Bessies Ceremony because The Bessies belongs to all of us,” said Bessies Managing Director and Producer Heather Robles. “We look forward to celebrating all of the 2020 nominees and the extraordinary work presented this past season. We will acknowledge how organizations and individuals came together to support one another during COVID-19, we will hear from beloved members of our community, and we will lift up many luminaries for their lifetime achievement in dance and service to the field.” 

Lucy Sexton. Photo by AK47-Division.
Lucy Sexton. Photo by AK47-Division.

The pre-ceremony Angel Reception will honor choreographer, producer and former executive director of The Bessies Lucy Sexton for her leadership and advocacy for dance for so many years. The Bessies Angel Reception will include remarks by Bebe Neuwirth, exclusive footage of DANCENOISE’s 1989 show All the Rage and more.

Robles stated, “We are thrilled to honor the incomparable Lucy Sexton at The Bessies Angel Reception for her unparalleled leadership, vision and dedication to The Bessies and the artists we serve.” 

The 36th annual Bessies Ceremony is free, with a suggested donation of any amount. Registration is required at Bessies RSVP.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the virtual Angel Reception, visit Angel Reception tickets.

The celebration will continue at the free, virtual Bessies After-party following the ceremony. Everyone who registers for The Bessies Ceremony will be invited to the party.

The 2020 Bessie Nominees/Honorees:

Outstanding Production:

Kimberly Bartosik, through the mirror of their eyes, at New York Live Arts 

Monica Bill Barnes and Robert Saenz de Viteri, Days Go By, at Brookfield Place New York 

Brother(hood) Dance!, Afro/Solo/Man, at Gibney 

Ayodele Casel and Arturo O’Farrill, Ayodele Casel + Arturo O’Farrill, at The Joyce Theater

a canary torsi/Yanira Castro, Last Audience, at New York Live Arts 

Yoshiko Chuma, My Diary: Secret Journey to Tipping Utopia, at The Invisible Dog 

Colin Dunne, Concert, at Baryshnikov Arts Center 

Gregory Vuyani Maqoma, Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero, at The Joyce Theater 

Annie-B Parson, American Utopia, at Hudson Theatre 

jumatatu m. poe and Jermone “Donte” Beacham, Let ‘im Move You: This Is a Formation, at Abrons Art Center

Amanda Szeglowski, this is now, and now, and now, at JACK

Outstanding Performer: 

Oluwadamilare Ayorinde in A.D. and Colored by Kyle Marshall, at BAM Fisher

Grupo de Rua in Inoah by Bruno Beltraõ/Grupo de Rua, at Brooklyn Academy of Music

Burr Johnson in through the mirror of their eyes by Kimberly Bartosik, at New York Live Arts 

Wataru Kitao in The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood by Suguru Yamamoto, The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival 2020, at Japan Society 

Huwer Anthony Marche Jr. (“King Havoc”) in LayeRhythm Jam, at Nublu

Shannon Nash in Community Exercises for Sanctuary Spaces by Brendan Drake, at The Brick

Emily Pope in My Diary: Secret Journey to Tipping Utopia by Yoshiko Chuma, at The Invisible Dog 

Annique Roberts for Sustained Achievement in the work of Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE

Myssi Robinson in Colored by Kyle Marshall, at BAM Fisher

Bijayini Satpathy in Kalpana – the world of Imagination by Kelucharan Mohapatra and Surupa Sen, presented by Drive East Festival, at A.R.T. New York Theatre

Hu Shenyuan in Under Siege by Yang Liping, at David H. Koch Theatre 

Omari Wiles in Odeon by Ephrat Asherie, at The Joyce Theater 

Breakout Choreographer: 

Gemma Bond 

Tess Dworman 

It’s Showtime NYC 

Gabrielle Revlock 

Outstanding Revival: 

Busk by Aszure Barton, performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at New York City Center

Colored by Kyle Marshall, at BAM Fisher 

From The Horse’s Mouth, various works by Jamie Cunningham and Tina Croll/Horse’s Mouth honoring the 75thanniversary of the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, at 14th Street Y

Monuments: Echoes in the Dance Archive by Adam Weinert, at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Outstanding Sound Design/Musical Composition: 

Quran Karriem for Soundz at the Back of My Head by Thomas F. DeFrantz/Slippage, at Gibney 

Nhlanhla Mahlangu and Ntuthuko Mbuyazi for Cion: Requiem of Ravel’s Bolero by Gregory Maqoma/Vuyani Dance Theater, at The Joyce Theater 

Stephan Moore for Last Audience by a canary torsi/Yanira Castro, at New York Live Arts 

Nioka Workman, nia love and Antoine Roney for g1(host):lostatsea by nia love, at Gibney

Outstanding Visual Design: 

Peter Born (Set and Lighting Design) for Sitting on a Man’s Head by Okwui Okpokwasii and Peter Born, at Danspace Project 

Liam O’Brien and Kelly Hanson (Costume and Scenic Design), and Mary Ellen Stebbins and Jane Cox (Lighting Design) for Days Go By by Monica Bill Barnes and Robert Saenz de Viteri, at Brookfield Place New York 

Ricarrdo Valentine and Orlando Zane Hunter (Video) for Afro/Solo/Man by Brother(hood) Dance!, at Gibney

Tim Yip (Visual Director and Set) and Beili Liu (Installation) for Under Siege by Yang Liping Contemporary Dance, at David H. Koch Theatre

For more information, visit bessies.org

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top