Capezio A.C.E. Awards Winners—Where Are They Now?

January 24, 2016

For seven years, The Capezio A.C.E. Awards have been recognizing emerging choreographers and giving them the tools they need to take their work to the next level. Each summer at the Dance Teacher Summit, 15 talents from around the country present their works to a panel of industry experts. Three are chosen for the top prizes of $15,000, $5,000 and $3,000, to be used for their next show.

The judges, including our own Dance Magazine editor in chief Jennifer Stahl, have an eye for spotting talent. Shall we take a trip through memory lane? Here are the grand prize winners of years past, and what they’re up to today.


2009: Travis Wall

Travis Wall was already a household name for his second place win on Season 2 of “So You Think You Can Dance”—but not for his choreography. He’s come a long way since his winning dance, It’s Gonna Be A Long Walk. But it was clear that he had a taste for texture and technique that would take him far. And it has. Wall has been a recurring mentor mentor and choreographer on “SYT”—for which he won an Emmy—and co-directs his internationally touring company Shaping Sound.


2010: Peter Chu

Like Wall, Peter Chu was well known for his dancing when he won his award, in particular for being one of Crystal Pite’s incredible, “How did he do that?!” dancers. He used his A.C.E. earnings to produce an evening-length program, full of luscious contemporary movement and quirky theatricality, called Nothing Sticks. Since then, he has set work at Orlando Ballet and Houston Met Dance Company, among others, while leading his own company chuthis.


2011: Al Blackstone

I can still remember how I felt watching Al Blackstone’s dance at the 2011 Awards. It was a super charming and witty take on 21st-century love—and the moment it ended I knew it would be the winner. Since then, Blackstone has been teaching like crazy, and working on theater projects under prestigious houses off Broadway and beyond, plus “SYTYCD.”


2012: Melinda Sullivan

When novice audiences imagine tap dancing, they think of rhythm, music and fast feet. But there’s much more potential for substance and storytelling in the form. Melinda Sullivan’s Gone proved that the slower, grittier sounds of tap are just as compelling as the quick and clear ones. Shortly after her award, we named Sullivan one our of “25 to Watch.” She’s recently been tearing up the tap scene, creating more works and dancing with Chloe Arnold’s The Syncopated Ladies.


2013: Erica Sobol

If the white onesies the men wore didn’t catch your attention, the skilled dancing in black flies/heavy skies sure did. (Check out the footage below for proof.) Sobol is now on faculty at EDGE Performing Arts Center in L.A., and is teaching all over the country, while leading her troupe collidEdance.


2014: Talia Favia

Talia Favia’s piece at the 2014 Awards was memorable for shifting perspective—she quite literally had the dancers on their heads. Since then, she’s become a huge behind-the-scenes presence on “So You Think You Can Dance,” assisting Mia Michaels and Tyce Diorio.


2015: Kirsten Russell

, Kirsten Russell’s winning piece from last year’s Capezio A.C.E. Awards, borrows qualities from so many different dance forms. It feels a little bit contemporary dance, a little bit hip hop, and almost a little bit Gaga. She has a strong sense of texture and musicality. Russell is currently prepping for the performance she will be able to produce with her winnings.

2016: Your Name Here?

Could you be the next winner? Try your chops: Apply by May 2 to be considered for the live competition in New York City.



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