Astaire Awards Tonight

June 3, 2012

Tonight at the Skirball, the Astaire Awards, which recognizes dance and choreography on Broadway and in films, will announce this year’s winners. It’s been a good year for choreography on Broadway.

In Newsies, Christopher Gattelli created the dancing-est show on Broadway. The ensemble of newspaper boys bursts with dance in almost every scene. Ron Brown has integrated a blend of modern and African-flavored dance that suits the time and place of Porgy and Bess. (That show also contains the most powerful performance on Broadway—by Audra Macdonald as Bess). Kathleen Marshall came up with a delightful, Anything Goes–style ebullience for Nice Work If You Can Get It. Rob Ashford infused Evita with more than a hint of tango. Sergio Trujillo gave us rousing gospel numbers in Leap of Faith. And in a small-scale Broadway favorite, Steve Hoggett stylized the poignant meeting of an Irish singer and a Czech piano player in Once. All of the above have been nominated for Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show.

The Awards will also recognize an outstanding male and female dancer and present Liza Minnelli with a lifetime achievement award.

It’s also been a banner year for documentaries on dance. Being on the Astaire committee, I would say that it was a hard choice. These four were all excellent, moving films: First Position,  Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance, PINA, and Check Your Body at the Door.  

The official title of this honor, which started in 1982, is the Fred and Adele Astaire Award. That’s because Adele was the driving force and the star of Fred’s first 27 years in show biz. If you want to know more about their long-lasting brother-and-sister act, see our “Plugged In” about the new book The Astaires: Fred and Adele.

To see all the Astaire nominations, click here—Wendy Perron