The Bessie Awards Announce 2017 Nominees and Recipient for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award

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Award for Outstanding Emerging Choreographer and

Seventh Annual Juried Bessie Award Presented at Press Conference

New York, NY, July 12, 2017 – The NY Dance and Performance Awards, The Bessies, New York City’s premier dance awards honoring outstanding creative work in the field, today announced the nominees for the 2016−17 season at the Bessies press conference. The nominees were selected by the Bessie Awards Selection Committee, an independent committee of 38 dance industry professionals. Bessie Award categories include Outstanding Production, Outstanding Revived Work, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Music Composition or Sound Design, and Outstanding Visual Design. The list of nominations follows.

The 33rd annual Bessie Awards will take place on Monday, October 9, 2017, at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets will go on sale August 1.

Two 2017 awards were presented at the press conference. The Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award was presented to Will Rawls for creating astute, genre-eluding work that explores the relationship between movement and language and delves deeply into ideas of transmission, translation, and authorship; and for his multifaceted artistry as choreographer, writer, editor, and curator, expanding the presence of dance and performance.

Abby Zbikowski was presented with the 2017 Juried Bessie Award. This year’s Bessies Jury—Kyle Abraham, Brenda Bufalino, and Beth Gill—recognized Zbikowski for her rigorous and utterly unique development of an authentic movement vocabulary, employed in complex and demanding structures to create dances of great energy, intensity, surprise, and danger.

About the Juried Bessie Award: The Bessies Jury is responsible for selecting a choreographer who exhibits some of the most interesting and exciting ideas in dance in New York City today. A new panel of three acclaimed choreographers is convened each year. The award provides the honored dance maker with touring and residency opportunities outside of New York City through a partnership with the New York State DanceForce, a statewide network of arts organizers and presenters.

“The city’s dance world this season was incredibly vital, brave, and engaged with the issues of our time, featuring boundary-stretching explorations of hip-hop, African, and African-American dance traditions, as well as political cabaret and searingly relevant balletic work,” said Bessies Executive Director Lucy Sexton. “I offer my congratulations and gratitude to all the nominated artists for their work.”

The 2017 Bessie Awards Steering Committee, responsible for setting policy and providing oversight for the Bessie Awards throughout the year, is comprised of Cora Cahan, Beverly D’Anne, Lane Harwell, Jeanne Linnes, Stanford Makishi, Nicky Paraiso, Carla Peterson, Tamia B. Santana, Laurie Uprichard, and Martin Wechsler.

The 2016−17 Bessie Awards Selection Committee: Diana Byer, Tymberly Canale, Leah Cox, Maura Donohue, Boo Froebel, Angela Fatou Gittens, Diane Grumet, Joseph Hall, Caleb Hammons, Zhenesse Heinemann, Jerron Herman, Iréne Hultman, Celia Ipiotis, Robert LaFosse, Matthew Lopez, Matthew Lyons, Harold Norris, Craig Peterson, Rajika Puri, Susan Reiter, Walter Rutledge, Sue Samuels, George Emilio Sanchez, Risa Shoup, Sally Sommer, Risa Steinberg, Carrie Stern, Kay Takeda, Catherine Tharin, Muna Tseng, Kay Turner, Tony Waag, Eleanor K. Wallace, Edisa Weeks, Ryan Wenzel, Adrienne Westwood, William Whitener, and Tara Aisha Willis.


The 2017 Bessie Awards Nominations 


Outstanding Production:

Vanessa Anspaugh

The End of Men; An Ode to Ocean

Joyce Unleashed at Abrons Art Center


Kader Attou of CCN de la Rochelle/Cie Accrorap


Fall for Dance at New York City Center


Art Bridgman and Myrna Packer, Bridgman|Packer Dance


Sheen Center


Nora Chipaumire

portrait of myself as my father

BAM Fisher


Antony Hamilton


Performance Space 122’s Coil 2017 Festival, with La MaMa


Jessica Lang

Thousand Yard Stare

The Joyce Theater


Ligia Lewis

minor matter

American Realness at Abrons Art Center


Taylor Mac

A 24-Decade History of Popular Music

St. Ann’s Warehouse/Pomegranate Arts


Crystal Pite

The Statement

Performed by Nederlands Dans Theater

New York City Center


Sébastien Ramirez and Honji Wang


BAM Fisher


Abdel Salaam

Healing Sevens

Featuring Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, Asase Yaa African American Dance Theatre, Ill Style & Peace Productions, and Dyane Harvey Salaam

DanceAfrica at BAM Howard Gilman Opera House


Adrienne Truscott


New York Live Arts


Outstanding Revived Work:


Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd 

Conceived by Ishmael Houston-Jones. Co-directed by Ishmael Houston-Jones and Miguel Gutierrez. John Bernd’s music compositions arranged and re-mixed by Nick Hallett. Consultation by Jennifer Monson.

Danspace Project Platform 2016: Lost and Found


About Kazuo Ohno

By Takao Kawaguchi

Japan Society


Stephen Petronio Company

For Trio A (1966), Chair Pillow (1969), and Diagonal (1963) by Yvonne Rainer; Goldberg Variations (1986) by Steve Paxton; The Courtesan and the Crone (1999) by Anna Halprin

The Joyce Theater


Outstanding Performer:


Yeman Brown

In Citizen by Reggie Wilson

BAM Harvey


PeiJu Chien-Pott

In Virginie Mécène’s reimagining of Martha Graham’s 1933 solo, Ekstasis

The Joyce Theater


Sean Donovan

For his body of work with The Builders Association, Faye Driscoll, Witness Relocation, Jennie MaryTai Liu, and Jane Comfort


Jonathan Gonzalez

In minor matter by Ligia Lewis

American Realness at Abrons Art Center


Julie McMillan

In Ko-bu by Benjamin Kimitch

Danspace Project


Cast of Riff this, Riff that: Ephrat “Bounce” Asherie Valerie “Ms. Vee” Ho Eriko Jimbo Linda “LaNaija” Madueme Omari Mizrahi Sidney Vault

By Ephrat Asherie Dance

River to River Festival, Atrium Plaza


Anna Schön

In Citizen by Reggie Wilson

BAM Harvey


Nicholas Sciscione

In excerpts from Steve Paxton’s Goldberg Variations

Presented by the Stephen Petronio Company

The Joyce Theater


Ensemble of the skeleton architecture, or future of our worlds: Maria Bauman, Sidra Bell, Davalois Fearon, Marjani Forté-Saunders, Melanie Greene, Kayla Hamilton, Jasmine Hearn, Marguerite Hemmings, Nia Love, Paloma McGregor, Sydnie L. Mosley, Rakiya Orange, Grace Osborne, Leslie Parker, Angie Pittman, Samantha Speis, Charmaine Warren, Marýa Wethers, Ni’Ja Whitson, and others*

Curated by Eva Yaa Asantewaa

Danspace Project Platform 2016: Lost and Found

*Edisa Weeks and Tara Aisha Willis also appeared in the cast, but are ineligible to vote on or receive awards as current Bessie Awards Committee members.


Daaimah Taalib-Din

In Eclipse: Visions of the Crescent and the Cross by Abdel Salaam

Aaron Davis Hall


Diana Vishneva

For Sustained Achievement with American Ballet Theatre


Cast of we free: DJ BLKWYNTR, Arielle Rosales, and Solo Woods, as well as Courtney Cook, Marguerite Hemmings, Jessica Phoenix and Italy Welton

By Marguerite Hemmings

Gibney Dance: Agnes Varis Performing Arts Center


Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (* indicates award recipient):


Lela Aisha Jones


Niall Jones


Will Rawls*


Katarzyna Skarpetowska


Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design:


ICTUS ensemble/ROSAS

For Vortex Temporum

By Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker

BAM Next Wave Festival, Howard Gilman Opera House


Chris Kuklis and Will Rawls

For The Planet-Eaters: Seconds

By Will Rawls

River to River Festival, National Museum of the American Indian


Ryan MacDonald

For The End of Men, Again

By Vanessa Anspaugh

Danspace Project


Alisdair Macindoe

For Meeting

By Antony Hamilton

La MaMa and Performance Space 122, COIL 2017


Outstanding Visual Design (costume, set, light, projection, or overall visual design):


Nora Chipaumire

For Set Design of portrait of myself as my father

By Nora Chipaumire

BAM Fisher


Taylor Mac (creator), Niegel Smith (director), Machine Dazzle (costume), Mimi Lien (set), John Torres (lights), Eric Avery (puppetry), Jawole Willa Jo Zollar (choreography)

For A 24-Decade History of Popular Music

By Taylor Mac

St. Ann’s Warehouse/Pomegranate Arts


Paulina Olowska

For Costume Design of Slavic Goddesses–A Wreath of Ceremonies

By Paulina Olowska

The Kitchen


Mark Ryden (set and costume) and Brad Fields (lighting)

For Visual Design of Whipped Cream

By Alexei Ratmansky

Performed by American Ballet Theatre

Metropolitan Opera House


About the Bessies

The NY Dance and Performance Awards have saluted outstanding and groundbreaking creative work in the dance field in New York City for 33 years. Known as “The Bessies” in honor of revered dance teacher Bessie Schönberg, the awards were established in 1984 by David R. White at Dance Theater Workshop. They recognize outstanding work in choreography, performance, music composition, and visual design. Nominees are chosen by a selection committee comprised of artists, presenters, producers, and writers. All those working in the dance field are invited to join the NY Dance and Performance League, as members participate in annual discussions on the direction of the awards and nominate members to serve on the selection committee. The Bessies are produced in partnership with Dance/NYC.

For more information, visit: www.bessies.org

Digital photos are available on request.

Follow the Bessies on Facebook / #theBessies / @bessieawards