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On Monday, October 7th, the 2013 NY Dance and Performance Awards will be held at the Apollo Theater, produced in partnership with Dance/NYC. Affectionately termed “The Bessies” in honor of revered dance teacher Bessie Schoenberg and described by The New York Times as “the dance world’s version of the Academy Awards,” the NY Dance and Performance Awards have recognized exceptional work in choreography, performance, music composition and visual design annually since their inception in 1983.

A 40-member Selection Committee comprised of artists, presenters, producers, and writers choose this year’s nominees, which fell into nine categories:

Outstanding Performer
Outstanding Emerging Choreographer
Outstanding Musical Composition/Sound Design
Outstanding Visual Design
Outstanding Revived Work
Outstanding Production – Performed in Large Capacity Venue
Outstanding Production – Performed in a Small Capacity Venue
Outstanding Production – Of a Work Stretching the Boundaries of a Traditional Form
Outstanding Production – Of a Work at the Forefront of Contemporary Dance and Performance Practices

Beyond the nominees, New York’s choreographers, performers, presenters, and audience  members eagerly anticipate the Bessies, considering the event a valuable aspect of the NYC dance scene. Bessies Director Lucy Sexton recognizes that “the full slate of nominees gives a glimpse of the extraordinary breadth of dance work that is happening in the city.”

Alexander Leslie Thompson—dancer, Associate Artist Program Manager at New York Live Arts and Vice-Chair of the Dance/NYC Junior Committee—agrees, as the Bessie Awards honor “dancemakers who are progressing the form rather than just preserving the status quo” by providing a formal community platform for recognizing extraordinary dancemakers and including works in “smaller and non-traditional venues.” However, Thompson points out that the Awards “tend to be more insular than is useful” and suggests that the Bessies “would better serve the purpose of promoting dance if advertised and broadcasted more widely (akin to the Tonys for theater).”

Alexandra Pinel, performance artist, choreographer, art marketer, and Dance/NYC Junior Committee Communications Coordinator adds that the Bessie Awards are a particularly valuable aspect of the NYC dance atmosphere because they regularly “acknowledge new categories and definitions of dance.” As Pinel sees it, this broad and inclusive perspective both highlights influential works and also inspires to progress the dance industry.

Along with award presentations by Joe Levasseur, Meredith Monk, Steve Paxton, Rajika Puri, Christopher Wheeldon and other past recipients, attendees at the 2013 Bessie Awards can look forward to live performances of work by 2012 Lifetime Achievement recipient Paul Taylor, 2013 Juried Award recipient Darrell Jones, and 2013 Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Joanna Kotze.

Tickets ($10) are now available online and at the Apollo box office. If you’d like to further support the Bessies you can opt to purchase the Bessie Supporter ticket for $20. Doors open at 7:00 pm, ceremony begins promptly at 8:00 pm. Drinks and food will be available for purchase at the theater, and everyone is invited to the free after-party following the ceremony at the Alhambra Ballroom, sponsored by Two Boots Pizza and hosted by the Junior Committee of Dance/NYC.

CLICK HERE for Tickets!

All those working in the dance field are invited to join the NY Dance and Performance League—members participate in annual discussions on the direction of the awards and nominate members to serve on the Selection Committee.

Written by Alejandra Iannone

Alejandra Iannone is an interdisciplinary artist who relocated to the Twin Cities after a decade in New York City. Her writing has been published by DIYdancer, Dancer’s Turn, and the International Journal of Technoethics. She has performed at venues like the Josie Robertson Plaza at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Jacob’s Pillow, the Ailey Citigroup Theater, and the Versace Mansion. Alejandra’s choreography has been presented in New York City and throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area. She is the Creative Director of Sparkle Theatricals, an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher, and a Balanced Body® Certified Pilates Instructor. Alejandra graduated with high honors from the Ailey School Fordham University B.F.A. Program and holds an M.A. in Philosophy from Temple University. She is a citizen of Argentina and the U.S.A.