The Bessies







New York, NY, July 15, 2015 – The New York 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 2014−15 season at its annual press conference. The 37 nominees were selected by the Bessies Selection Committee, an independent committee of 39 dance industry professionals. Produced in partnership with Dance/NYC, Bessie Award categories include Outstanding Production, Outstanding Revival, Outstanding Performer, Outstanding Music Composition or Sound Design, and Outstanding Visual Design. The list of nominations follows. 

The 31st Annual Bessie Awards will take place on Monday, October 19, 2015, at 7:30pm, at the legendary Apollo Theater in New York City. The 2015 ceremony will mark the Bessie Awards’ fifth year at this historic venue.

Two 2015 awards were presented at the press conference. The Outstanding Emerging Choreographer Award was presented to Storyboard P for fusing various styles of Hip-Hop with elements of modern and jazz dance, creating a cinematic choreographic vision for new dance narratives and abstract movement-based works.

This year’s Bessies Jury—Susan Marshall, Shen Wei, and Reggie Wilson—named Pavel Zuštiak as the recipient of the 2015 Juried Bessie Award. Zuštiak was recognized for his poetic layering of movement and visual imagery, conceiving the stage space as a decentralized world in which the corporeal body is the focus and canvas for a wide range of human expression.

The jury of three acclaimed choreographers, appointed each year by the Bessies Steering Committee, is responsible for choosing a choreographer who exhibits some of the most interesting and exciting ideas in dance in New York City today. 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 2015 Bessie Awards Steering Committee, responsible for setting policy and providing oversight of the Bessie Awards throughout the year, is comprised of Cora Cahan, Beverly D’Anne, Lane Harwell, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Stanford Makishi, Carla Peterson, Laurie Uprichard, and Martin Wechsler.

The 2014−2015 Bessie Awards Selection Committee consists of Nolini Barretto, Diana Byer, Kim Chan, H.T. Chen, Blondell Cummings, Nancy Dalva, Andrew Dinwiddie, Maura Donohue, Simon Dove, Boo Froebel, Laurel George, Caleb Hammons, Zhenesse Heinemann, Iréne Hultman, Robert LaFosse, Matthew Lyons, Nicole Macotsis, Caridad Martinez, Harold Norris, Nicky Paraiso, Mathew Pokoik, Susan Reiter, Rokafella, Walter Rutledge, Sue Samuels, Philip Sandstrom, Gus Solomons Jr., Sally Sommer, Risa Steinberg, Carrie Stern, Kay Takeda, David Thomson, Muna Tseng, Kay Turner, Tony Waag, Edisa Weeks, Ryan Wenzel, Adrienne Westwood, and Elizabeth Zimmer.

The 2015 Bessie Nominations

Outstanding Production:


Employee of the Year

FIAF/Crossing the Line


Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca


The Joyce Theater


Dorrance Dance with Toshi Reagon and BIGLOVELY

The Blues Project

The Joyce Theater


Neil Greenberg


New York Live Arts


Roger Guenveur Smith

Rodney King



Xavier LeRoy


MoMA PS1 and Crossing the Line


Shwe Man Pwe 

Music and Dance from Myanmar

Asia Society


David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group

I Understand Everything Better

Abrons Arts Center co-presented by The Chocolate Factory


Justin Peck

Rodeo: Four Dance Episodes

New York City Ballet

Lincoln Center


Lemi Ponifasio/MAU

Birds with Skymirrors

Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music


Pam Tanowitz

Broken Story (wherein there is no ecstasy)

The Guggenheim's Works & Process

Vuyani Dance Theatre Project


Fall for Dance, New York City Center


Outstanding Revival:
Alexei Ratmansky
The Sleeping Beauty
American Ballet Theatre


Outstanding Performer:

Alexandra Albrecht and Andrew Champlin

in Polly Pocket: Expansion Pack by Jillian Peña

Danspace Project


Michelle Boulé  

For her body of work with Miguel Gutierrez


Lawrence Cassella

Sustained Achievement in the work of Ivy Baldwin


Talya Epstein

in Star Crap Method by Larissa Velez-Jackson

The Chocolate Factory  


Robert Fairchild

in An American in Paris

The Palace Theater


Ellen Fisher

For Sustained Achievement in Performance in the work of Meredith Monk


Lauren Grant

For her overall body of work with Mark Morris   


Ryan Haskett, Daniel Price, and Lil Buck

Live Performance following NYC premiere of Pharaohs of Memphis

DAMN! Film Series

TheaterLab Annex


Juan Ogalla  

in Antigona by Soledad Barrio and Noche Flamenca

The Joyce Theater


Amar Ramasar

New York City Ballet


Ryoji Sasamoto

in OQ by Kota Yamazaki

Japan Society


Melissa Toogood

For her body of work during the 2014−15 season in the work of Kimberly Bartosik, Merce Cunningham, Rashaun Mitchell, Stephen Petronio, Sally Silvers, Pam Tanowitz, among others.


Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (*indicates award recipient):

Yve Laris Cohen

Moriah Evans for Social Dance 1-8: Index at Issue Project Room

Troy Schumacher

Storyboard P *


Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design:

Tei Blow

for I Understand Everything Better by David Neumann/Advanced Beginner Group

Abrons Arts Center co-presented by The Chocolate Factory


Robyn Orlin | Compagnie Jant-Bi

At the same time we were pointing a finger at you, we realized we were pointing three at ourselves… by Robyn Orlin | Compagnie Jant-Bi

Peak Performances at Montclair State University


Ublado Perez Conde

for CAMBUYÓN by Enlace S.C.

The New Victory Theater


Kate Valk, Bobby McElver and Max Bernstein
for Early Shaker Spirituals by The Wooster Group
St. Ann’s Warehouse


Outstanding Visual Design:

Reid Bartelme in collaboration with Harriet Jung

For body of work


Kathy Kaufmann

for Bloowst windku by Rebecca Davis

HERE Art Center


Lemi Ponifasio and Helen Todd

for Birds with Skymirrors

Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music


Design Team: Geoff Sobelle (Creator), Steven Dufala (Scenic Installation Designer) 

Christopher Kuhl (Lighting Designer), Nick Kourtides (Sound Designer), Jamie Boyle (Integrated Archive Designer), Rachel McIntosh (Specialty Props Designer)

for The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobelle

BAM Fisher


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Digital photos are available on request.

Follow the Bessies on Facebook / #theBessies / @bessieawards


The Bessie Awards Announce:

The 2015 Emerging Choreographer Nominees

The Nominees for the 2015 Emerging Choreographer Award are:

Moriah Evans for Social Dance 1-8: Index at Issue Project Room
Storyboard P
Troy Schumacher
Yve Laris Cohen

Congratulations to this year's nominees! The Award for the Emerging Choreographer will be given on Wednesday, July 15th at the Bessie Press Conference at 6pm. For information on the Cocktail hour at 5pm and to register, please click here!


The Bessie 2015 Cocktail Party and Press Conference

The Bessies Steering Committee: Cora Cahan, Beverly D'Anne, Lane Harwell, Judy Hussie-Taylor, Stanford Makishi, Carla Peterson, Laurie Uprichard, and Martin Wechsler, invites you to The Bessie Cocktail Party on Wednesday, July 15th at 5pm, folled by the Bessie Press Conference at 6pm. Come raise a glass to this year's nominees for the 2015 NY Dance and Performance "Bessie" Awards. Two special awards will be presented: The Bessies Juried Award, and the 2015 Bessie for Emerging Choreographer.

For tickets to the Cocktail Party at 5pm, please click here. The Press Conference begins at 6pm.

Be sure not to miss this 6th annual festive "dance family" gathering!



2014 Bessie Award Ceremony

Big Daddy's Salsa Fling band will play live from 6:30 to 7:30 before the show begins. The bar will be open with food and drink for sale. So come early and get the party started!

Bessie recognized artists from the awards' 30 year history, and some very special guests, will present awards at this year's ceremony on Monday October 20th at 7:30 at Harlem's Apollo Theater. Tickets available here.

Host Lisa Kron will be joined by Robert Battle, Faye Driscoll, Karen Finley, Crazy Legs, Virginia Johnson, Jessye Norman, Tere O'Connor, Omagbitse Omagbemi, Miki Orihara, Annie-B Parson, Lenny Pickett, Ken Swift,  and Wendy Whelan. There will be live performances from three decades of Bessie-recognized work by Mark Morris (1984), Urban Bush Women (1992), Circus Amok (1995), and Michelle Dorrance (2011). 

Arthur Mitchell to receive 2014 NY Dance and Performance Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. Dr. Chuck Davis to receive 2014 NY Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Service to the Field of Dance. For more on these special awards, click here

Tickets start at $10, get yours today!

2014 Nominations

Outstanding Production Nominees (four awards will be presented)

Asase Yaa African American Dance Theatre Djembe in the New Millennium Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts

Camille A. Brown Mr. TOL E. RAncE Produced by 651 Arts at Kumble Theater for the Performing Arts

Mallory Catlett This Was the End The Chocolate Factory

Liz Gerring Glacier Peak Performances at Montclair State University

Maria Hassabi Premiere The Kitchen

John Jasperse Within between New York Live Arts

Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker En Atendant/Cesena Brooklyn Academy of Music

Akram Khan Desh White Light Festival, Lincoln Center

Sarah Michelson 4 Whitney Museum of American Art

MIMULUS Cia de Danca Dolores The Joyce

Okwui Okpokwasili in collaboration with Peter Born Bronx Gothic Danspace Project

Aki Sasamoto Sunny in the Furnace The Kitchen


Outstanding Revival (one award will be presented)

Dark Swan by Nora Chipaumire The Joyce

Myth or Meth (or Maybe Moscow?) by Radiohole; Tom Murrin Full Moon Performance Festival at La MaMa

State of Heads by Donna Uchizono New York Live Arts

Bach Partita by Twyla Tharp American Ballet Theatre


Outstanding Performer (four awards will be presented)

Maggie Cloud in Passagen by Pam Tanowitz

Sean Donovan in the work of Witness Relocation, Jane Comfort, Faye Driscoll, and others

Julia Hausermann in Disabled Theater by Jerome Bel and Theater HORA

Sean Jackson in We Used to Hold by Lisa LaTouche as part of Rhythm in Motion

Mickey Mahar in the work of Miguel Gutierrez, Adrienne Truscott, Ryan McNamara, and Gillian Walsh

Angela "Angel" McNeal for her hip hop battle improvisations at Harlem Stage E-Moves 15 Battle

Sara Mearns, New York City Ballet

Aakash Odedra in James Brown, Get on the Good Foot, A Celebration in Dance organized and shaped by Otis Sallid at the Apollo Theater

Tiler Peck, New York City Ballet

Rebecca Serrell Cyr in Fire Underground by Donna Uchizono

Linda Celeste Sims, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Stuart Singer in Within between by John Jasperse


Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design

Simphiwe Dana, Giuliano Modarelli, and Complete Quartet for Exit/Exist choreographed by Gregory Maqoma

G. Lucas Crane for This Was the End created by Mallory Catlett

Steven Taylor for Aubade choreographed by Douglas Dunn

Nicholas Young for his inventive tap 'percussion platforms' in Rhythm in Motion


Outstanding Visual Design

Thomas Dunn for New Work for the Desert by Beth Gill

Avram Finkelstein, Kathy Morganroth, and Jenny Mui of YMX by Yellowman; Patricia Forelle; Tamara Gonzales; and Nicholas Vermeer, Olivia Barr, and William Ward of NYC Resistor for Vectors, Marys, and Snow by Brooklyn Ballet

Peter Ksander, Olivera Gajic, Ryan Holsopple, Chris Kuhl, and Keith Skretch for This Was the End by Mallory Catlett

Tim Yip for Desh by Akram Khan


Outstanding Emerging Choreographer (* indicates the recipients, previously announced at July press conference)

Gillian Walsh
HasbroTM Procedures
The Kitchen

Jen Rosenblit*
a Natural dance
The Kitchen

Jessica Lang* 
In recognition for the formation of her own company
The Joyce

Rashida Bumbray
The Little Red Rooster in a Red House
Harlem Stage E-Moves Festival

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