2017 BESSIE AWARDS
October 12, 2017
Celebrating the community as much as the individual, the Bessies Awards Ceremony returned for the 33rd year. Awards were handed out in a variety of categories at the NYU Skirball Theater. The lifetime achievement award shined on Jawole Willa Jo Zoller and her forceful push to amplify, through dance, basic truths surrounding women of color.
Dianne Mc Intyre paid tribute to Zollar, a young woman she met in the 1970’s who was determined to learn from her sisters, honor her elders and mentor the future. Near the end of a stirring acceptance speech, Ms. Zollar pleaded with dance critics to refrain from insulting dancers in their print and on-line reviews. "Please, do not insult us." Words everyone should consider.
For most of the evening, the two MCs, James Whiteside—looking nothing like an ABT principal – strutted across the stage in a bevy of skin-tight, bejeweled outfits flanked by the sassy Shernita Anderson.
Two large ensembles – -the skeleton architecture, or future of our worlds and Variations on Themes from Lost and Found: Scenes from a Life and other works by John Bernd-- received awards filling the stage with a rainbow coalition of makers and performers. In fact, one of the presenters dubbed the 2017 ceremony the #(hashtag) bessiessoblack.
The award for outstanding Service to the Field went to curator and writer Eva Yaa Asantewaa who called on review outlets to invite more writers of color. Of course, this cry for greater balance is not new.
And although the majority of those honored came from the downtown and modern dance community, ballet took a few bows as well with the Outstanding Performer nomination of Diana Vishneva, Outstanding Visual Design nomination for “Whipped Cream” designed by Mark Ryden and choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky as well as Outstanding Emerging Choreogrpaher nomination to Katarzyna Skarpetowska. For a complete list of all the very deserving nominations and awards please click Bessie Awards.
All in all, the evning was a well-produced event that continues due to the hard work of the Lucy Sexton, her able staff including Heather Robles, supporters and volunteer committee members. It’s always a good time to stop and pay tribute to the dedicated work force forging the NYC dance community.
EYE ON THE ARTS< NY -- Celia Ipiotis