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Dance Magazine Awards 2007: Fifty Years of Dance Awards

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Dance Magazine Awards 2007
(Dance Magazine Website)
50 Years of Dance Magazine Awards

Awardees: Wendy Whelan, Bettie De Jong
Bebe Neuwirth, Desmond Richardson

Welcome: Karla Johnson, McFadden Performing Arts Media
Introduction: Wendy Perron, Editor in Chief, Dance Magazine
Stage Manager: Abigail Epprecht
Awards Coordinators: Janelle Abbott, Katy Malone

Presented at Florence Gould Hall
(Gould Hall Website)
55 East 59th Street

Press: Katy Malone

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 5, 2007

The 2007 Dance Magazine Awards have been presented since 1954 to such renowned artists and choreographers as Moira Shearer (1955), Gene Kelly (1958), Margot Fonteyn (1962), Rudolf Nureyev (1973), Antony Tudor (1974), Paul Taylor (1980), Tommy Tune (1984), Mark Morris (1991), Savion Glover (1996), Julio Bocca (1998), Terese Capucilli (2001), Chita Rivera (2004), and the dance critic, Clive Barnes (2006). The evening began with a black-white slide show of portraits in still or motion of probably all Dance Magazine recipients since 1954 (There were no awards in 1970 and 1971). This put lighting designer, Jennifer Tipton, on a scale with choreographer, Susan Stroman, with dancer, Damian Woetzel, with impresario, Sol Hurok, and with the early TV shows, “Omnibus” (CBS). There was much class, much nostalgia, and obviously much detail and organization.

In fact, I found the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony to be a model, on which to design future such tributes in one dance form and across many genres and roles. Speeches were tight, humorous, and charismatic. And, all renowned dance stars in the audience were applauded, individually. The Post-Awards reception was elegant and attended by the glitterati of New York’s dance community.

Wendy Whelan: An Excerpt from “Wendy: A Home Movie”, a Short Film by David Michalek and Wendy Whelan, 2003, Super 8 Footage by Rick and Kay Whelan, Music: Fratres by Arvo Pärt, Presentation by Jock Soto.

Wendy Whelan, a principal dancer with NYC Ballet, has been reviewed in dozens of ballets in this magazine. She was noted in tonight’s program for mastering the “leotard” repertoire, early on, and shining in classical and lyrical story ballets and shorter set pieces, such as Swan Lake, La Sonnambula, and The Cage. She was noted also for her ethereal and mesmerizing dances by Christopher Wheeldon, like After the Rain. Whelan dances with Wheeldon’s new Company, Morphoses, now, as well. For Jock Soto’s Farewell City Ballet Gala, Wendy Whelan was his featured partner.

Jock returned the favor tonight with a heartfelt speech, as he presented Wendy her award, after an excerpt of a film made at home by Whelan and her husband, David Michalek. In this film, Whelan moves to the stark music of Arvo Pärt, even with her cuddly cat. There’s also a brief childhood dance film. Whelan was quite gracious and moved, as this was her “first award”.

Bettie De Jong: An Excerpt from Cloven Kingdom (1976), “Man is a Social Animal” (Spinoza), Choreography by Paul Taylor, Music by Malloy Miller, Men’s Formalwear courtesy of After Six, Original Lighting by Jennifer Tipton, Performed by Orion Duckstein, Robert Kleinendorst, James Samson, and Sean Mahoney, Presentation by Carolyn Adams.

Bettie De Jong, of Dutch and Indonesian roots, was Paul Taylor’s dance partner for many years, and since 1985 his Rehearsal Director and invaluable colleague. Ms. De Jong revitalizes the repertoire, so that the Taylor “classics”, such as Aureole and Esplanade, remain vital and engaging. Ms. De Jong met Taylor at the Martha Graham school, and she has worked at his side on and off stage ever since. Carolyn Adams, also a former Taylor dancer and the founder of the Harlem Dance Foundation, reminisced about the cheap motels, where the Taylor dancers used to stay, during travel engagements, and about Ms. De Jong’s ability to dance in the toughest of physical and logistical difficulties.

The prior performance, by a quartet of Taylor male dancers, Cloven Kingdom, was superbly athletic, masterful, and highly entertaining. This was gymnastics and mime, all in black tuxedoes.

Bebe Neuwirth: An Excerpt from the Video of Chicago, Performed at the 1997 Tony Awards, Presentation by Ann Reinking. Bebe Neuwirth, who recently won the 2007 Career Transitions Rolex Award, was honored with an excerpt of a video from the 1997 Tonys, showing her in her Tony Award-winning role, dancing and singing in Chicago. Ms. Neuwirth also appeared on Broadway in A Chorus Line, Sweet Charity, Damn Yankees, and Fosse. On TV, she had a long-time role in Cheers and Frasier. In film, Ms. Neuwirth starred in Le Divorce.

The filmed excerpt of Chicago, part of the 1997 Tonys, was dynamic, driven, and dazzling. This is one of the longest-running Broadway shows, and Ms. Neuwirth made an indelible mark with her talent and charm on its history and success. The speech by Tony winner Ann Reinking, who choreographed the revival of Chicago, and who danced in the original musical, was personal and lots of fun. She praised Ms. Neuwirth as a real “Fosse dancer”, and Ms. Neuwirth thanked Ms. Reinking, the late Bob Fosse, and all her mentors.

Desmond Richardson: An Excerpt from Dear Frédéric (2006), Choreography by Dwight Rhoden, Music by Frédéric Chopin, Original Lighting by Michael Korsch, Costumes by DM Design, Performed by Members of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Presentation by Judith Jamison. A film of a recent Desmond Richardson solo performance highlighted Mr. Richardson’s muscularity and momentous presence. Mr. Richardson danced with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for eight years, briefly appeared with Ballett Frankfurt, and danced in a Principal role with American Ballet Theatre. In 1994, he co-founded Complexions Contemporary Ballet with Dwight Rhoden, and he has appeared in numerous dance galas.

Judith Jamison, Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, lauded Mr. Richardson, and Mr. Richardson thanked her and Alvin Ailey for his inspiration and success. Kudos to Dance Magazine and all the award recipients and presenters for a memorable and first class Dance Magazine Awards 2007.

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at