Curtain Up

October 19, 2009

This year the Dance Magazine Awards are personal for me. I started dancing with Sara Rudner more than 30 years ago. My choreography was influenced by Ohad Naharin 20 years ago, and I started editing with Allegra Kent almost 10 years ago. And Jason Samuels Smith, well, I just admired him from afar the last several years. I feel an artistic affinity for all these awardees. I know in my bones why each of them is deserving of a Dance Magazine Award. But don’t take it from my bones—read our section on the Awards to find out the real contribution each of these incredible dance artists has made.

My connection to the 92nd Street Y goes back even further. When my mother was a teenager, she was on a work scholarship to study with Martha Graham at the 92nd Street Y. In our household, the Y was a hallowed name and place. I got to perform there during my college dance tour, because Bennington College still had strong ties to the Y in the 1960s. Well, we were in a little over our heads, and Clive Barnes wrote a review in The New York Times saying that college girls have big thighs. I have since taken workshops there, taught there, and seen plenty of enthralling performances at the Harkness Festival produced by the Y. For 75 years the Y has been a mecca for modern dance, helping to make New York City the center of the dance world. In “Temple of Modern Dance,” Emily Macel reveals some surprises about how the Y’s dance center began and evolved.


Our cover subject this month has always been dazzling as a technician. When Gillian Murphy does her triple fouettés, jaws drop. The speed, finesse, and rock-solid centering are awesome—and probably have been since she was 11. Recently she has discovered a new softness, a new pliability in her movement and portrayals. In “Beyond Bravura,” Gillian talks about the help she gets from ABT’s coaches in her efforts to deepen her artistry.


Which brings me back to the four DM Award recipients. Each one, in her or his genre, represents artistry over time. It’s our privilege to recognize such greatness.