Given the challenges of the past 18 months, the opportunity to celebrate the living legends of our field feels even sweeter than usual. Today, we are thrilled to announce the recipients of the 2021 Dance Magazine Awards. With the selection committee's continued focus on diversity, we honor the artistry, the integrity and the resiliency that these artists have demonstrated over the course of their careers.
A ceremony to recognize this year's honorees will be held in New York City at Works & Process at the Guggenheim and simultaneously livestreamed at 7:30 pm Eastern on Monday, December 6, with performances and presentations for each recipient. For ticket information, visit dancemediafoundation.org.
Here are the artists we're celebrating this year.
When Robert Battle took on the artistic directorship of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in 2011, he became just the third person to head the company since its founding in 1958. Under his tenure, he has expanded the company's repertoire with works by choreographers like Wayne McGregor, Aszure Barton and Kyle Abraham. He appointed Jamar Roberts as the company's first resident choreographer, and made Rennie Harris artist in residence in 2019, during which time Harris created Lazarus, a new calling card for the company. Prior to joining Ailey's artistic staff, Battle founded Battleworks Dance Company, and choreographed powerful works like Takademe.
Choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler is known for creating Broadway numbers that ingeniously push a story's narrative forward, revealing new facets of the characters. His contemporary takes on classic dance movement have won him Tony Awards for Hamilton, Bandstand and In the Heights. He also received a Kennedy Center Award with the Hamilton team in 2018. Blankenbuehler's relentless drive has also led him to directing Broadway's Bring It On: The Musical and Bandstand; choreographing for TV shows and films, including the Emmy Award–winning FX series "Fosse/Verdon" and CATS; and, now, conceiving brand-new shows with his upcoming Only Gold.
Tap dancer Dormeshia is known for the impeccable clarity of her dancing—and her delightfully feminine performance quality. She has toured the U.S. and abroad on the tap festival circuit, appeared in the star-studded Imagine Tap!, and performed in Broadway's Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk and After Midnight. In recent years, she's garnered acclaim for her own creations, including 2013's The Blues Project, co-created with Michelle Dorrance, Derick K. Grant and Toshi Reagon, and 2016's And Still You Must Swing.
Choreographer and dancer Akram Khan is known for fusing kathak and contemporary forms into epic narrative works. He brings curiosity and imagination to his collaborations with other world-class artists of various disciplines, from flamenco star Israel Galván to sculptor Anish Kapoor. His full-length productions, like DESH, XENOS and zero degrees (created with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui), have toured internationally to critical acclaim.
Tamara Rojo first made a name for herself as a prima ballerina, particularly during her 12 years at The Royal Ballet. In 2012, she became the artistic director and a lead principal dancer with the English National Ballet. Under her directorship, ENB has attracted top dancers to its ranks and commissioned bold new works, while continuing to uphold the highest standards of classical ballet.
Chairman's Award: Works & Process
A Chairman's Award, chosen by Dance Media CEO Frederic M. Seegal to honor distinctive leaders behind the scenes, will go to Works & Process. Since its creation in 1984, the performing arts series at the Guggenheim has offered audiences insight into artists' creative processes and, in recent years, has increasingly focused on commissioning work.
Special Citation: Dr. Wendy Ziecheck
Our Chairman's Award presentation will include a special citation to Dr. Wendy Ziecheck, who helped to create and supervise "bubble residency" protocols that made it possible for dance artists to continue creating work during the pandemic.
Harkness Promise Awards: Alethea Pace and Yin Yue
The Harkness Promise Awards, which offer a $5,000 grant and 40 hours of rehearsal space for innovative choreographers in their first decade of professional work, is funded by net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony.
Alethea Pace is a Bronx-based multidisciplinary choreographer and performer. A former Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre company member, her work has been supported by BAAD!, Dancing While Black, Pregones Theater, New Dance Alliance, New York Live Arts and the 92Y. She is committed to creating work in and with her community that is rooted in social justice, born out of resilience and made in spite of the obstacles facing artists (and people) of color.Yin Yue, artistic director of YY Dance Company, has taught her signature FoCo Technique around the world. Her company has toured to Germany and China, and presented at SummerStage, BAM Fisher, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival Inside/Out and many other venues in the U.S. As a choreographer, Yue has received commissions from Martha Graham Dance Company, Philadelphia Ballet, Limón Dance Company, Gibney Company, BalletX, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Hubbard Street 2 and many others.
Stay tuned for Dance Magazine's December issue to learn more about each of these artists and how they have shaped the dance field.