Debbie Allen and Dick Van Dyke to Receive Kennedy Center Honors

In May, Debbie Allen will enter into an exclusive group of American dance luminaries, joining bold-faced names like Carmen de Lavallade, Bill T. Jones, Twyla Tharp, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ginger Rogers, Alvin Ailey and Gene Kelly as a Kennedy Center Honoree.

The annual awards, recognizing those who've made outstanding cultural contributions via the performing arts, postponed its December 2020 celebration due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Kennedy Center Honors are now moving forward with plans for an adjusted series of virtual tributes the week of May 17. The possibility of small, in-person events, to be held across the Kennedy Center's campus, will be evaluated as safety protocols evolve.

Along with Allen, the 43rd group of awardees includes singer-songwriter and activist Joan Baez, country singer-songwriter Garth Brooks, violinist Midori and actor Dick Van Dyke.

Allen, who also took home a 2020 Dance Magazine Award, is perhaps most well-known for her portrayal of dance teacher Lydia Grant on TV's "Fame." Her decades-long career spans stage and screen as a performer, choreographer, director and producer. Today, she continues to inspire and nurture young artists through her Los Angeles–based Debbie Allen Dance Academy.

Though he's chiefly recognized for his comedic acting, Van Dyke, now 95, is also remembered for his iconic dance roles, such as Albert Peterson in the Broadway and film versions of Bye Bye Birdie, and as lovable chimney sweep Bert in Disney's 1964 hit Mary Poppins. On TV, in his popular "Dick Van Dyke Show," he often sang and danced opposite co-star Mary Tyler Moore.

Details about the May virtual programming to celebrate these honorees will be announced at a later date on the Kennedy Center's website.

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Photo by Ernest Gregory, Courtesy Fleming

How This Tap-Dancer-Turned-Composer Stays True to His Jazz Roots

From Riverdance to HBO's "Boardwalk Empire," tap dancer DeWitt Fleming Jr. has proved to be a triple threat on the stage and screen. He's also an entrepreneur, selling his own line of wireless microphones, DeW It Right Tap Mics. Last year, he added "composer" to his resumé with the release of Sax and Taps INTERSPLOSION!, the first tap dance and jazz album recorded at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Dizzy's Club. One of the songs, co-written with jazz saxophonist Erica von Kleist, was a finalist for last year's Unsigned Only music competition.

"When you're invited to dance with a jazz band, it's always assumed that, as a tap dancer, you're going to be a feature. If you go all the way back to New Orleans' Congo Square, and even before then, dance was a part of the music. I wanted to stick to those roots and create an album where everything was intertwined."

He recently spoke with Dance Magazine about his collaboration with von Kleist and the creation of their album.

January 2021