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Naya Samuel, Courtesy AAADT

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our hybrid ceremony taking place December 6, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

Robert Battle once told an interviewer on PBS, "Something about movement, very early on for me, signified life." As a youngster, it wasn't likely that he would become a dancer; Battle's legs were so bowed he had to wear braces at night. However, once he no longer needed them, he made up for lost time by dancing every chance he could. When he wasn't dancing, he liked to don a bathrobe and pretend to preach, sharpening the oratorical skills that he now puts to regular use as artistic director of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Today, the warmth and charm of his pre-curtain speeches and interviews make not just Ailey but modern dance feel more accessible for all of us.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Julien Benhamou, Courtesy Akram Khan Company

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our hybrid ceremony taking place December 6, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

Akram Khan shows us what it means to be a global citizen of dance. Growing up in London in a Bangladeshi family, he studied the North Indian form kathak, and began melding it with contemporary dance almost 30 years ago. His solo works have built vivid worlds ranging from the delightfully quizzical Desh to the terrifying landscape of war in Xenos.

Driven by curiosity, he has collaborated with artists steeped in other traditions, leading to a new alchemy each time. Whether matching the furious rhythms of flamenco improviser Israel Galván in Torobaka or overhauling Giselle for English National Ballet, he has found humor in difference, as well as emotional common ground.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Erick Munari, Courtesy Works & Process

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our hybrid ceremony taking place December 6, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

Works & Process at the Guggenheim, conceived by the philanthropist Mary Sharp Cronson, has been at the heart of New York City's cultural life since its creation in 1984. For nearly four decades, it has offered a peek at the creative process, inviting composers, choreographers, actors, dancers, musicians, designers and others to talk about and show the work that goes on behind the scenes of a new creation.

As enlightening as it has been, Works & Process' impact on the performing arts (and especially on dance) has grown even further in recent years, as the series has focused increasingly on commissioning new work. Some of the most innovative and interesting artists of our time, often at a formative point in their careers, have developed work at Works & Process, including Pam Tanowitz, Michelle Dorrance and Jamar Roberts.

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Dance Magazine Awards
From left: Kathryn Butler, Courtesy Pace; Paul B. Goode, Courtesy Yue

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our hybrid ceremony taking place December 6, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

A partnership between Dance Magazine and the Harkness Foundation for Dance, the Harkness Promise Awards recognize choreographers in their first decade of professionally presenting their work. The net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony­ fund the Harkness Promise Awards, which include a $5,000 unrestricted grant, along with 40 hours of studio space and ongoing mentorship with Joan Finkelstein, the Harkness Foundation's executive director. This year's awardees, Alethea­ Pace and Yin Yue, will be featured in a shared evening as part of the 2022 Works & Process season.

Alethea Pace creates deeply compelling multimedia works. Her creative practice draws upon embodied knowledge, collective memory and historical study using a hybrid of movement forms ranging from contemporary modern dance to dances of the African diaspora. Raising social justice issues around history, identity and geography, her work uplifts the stories of Black and brown communities and resists attempts to erase marginalized bodies. A true artist-citizen, she creates spaces where the imaginary "we" is transformed into an actual "we" as a tool of activism.

Yin Yue, artistic director of New York City's YY Dance Company, has extended the physical possibilities of dance by creating FoCo Technique, an innovative approach to movement blending ballet, contemporary modern dance, and Chinese classical and folk forms. Sweepingly extended, fluidly pulsing and earthily grounded, the technique underpins her highly kinetic, full-bodied choreography.


Join Dance Magazine in celebrating Alethea Pace and Yin Yue at the December 6 Dance Magazine Awards ceremony. Tickets are now available here.

Dance Magazine Awards
Paul Stuart, Courtesy ENB

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our hybrid ceremony taking place December 6, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

A former star of The Royal Ballet, Spanish ballerina Tamara Rojo is known for her spotless technique and impassioned performances that are—to quote a review by dance critic Judith Mackrell—"etched in raw emotion." Despite her magnificent performance career, however, it is as a leadership figure that Rojo has had the most influence on the ballet world. Since 2012, she has straddled stage and office in the dual role of artistic director and lead principal of English National Ballet.

Under Rojo's leadership, ENB has shed its reputation as a lesser cousin to The Royal Ballet. Instead, it has become the epitome of an innovative, forward-thinking ballet company equipped for the 21st century. Based in a new award-winning, state-of-the-art home, Rojo's ENB presents classical repertoire alongside premieres by contemporary choreographers, and now digital creations via the company's bespoke streaming platform.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Jayme Thornton

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our hybrid ceremony taking place December 6, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

If you ask a tap dancer who their favorite hoofers are, it's not likely they'll omit Dormeshia. Her popularity even spreads by word of foot, so to speak: Some dancers have used the term "DSE"—the initials of her full name, Dormeshia­ Sumbry-Edwards—to refer to a phrase she often executes: a grab-off variation followed by a shuffle pullback and a flap.

It's a tight, crisp, elegant bar of music that can be graceful and enunciated, ending on the count of 4, or a rapid, machine-gun rhythm that ends on 3. She could probably come up with five other variations on the step that the rest of us would never think of—and all with impeccable clarity and unwavering gusto.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Matthew Murphy, Courtesy Blankenbuehler

This week we're sharing tributes to all of the 2021 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our hybrid ceremony taking place December 6, visit dancemediafoundation.org.

Andy Blankenbuehler got into dance as a 3-year-old tapper in Cincinnati, but theatergoers don't associate him with showstopping tap routines. Nor do they identify him with cheerleader formations, swing-dance extravaganzas or hip-hop blowouts, even though his shows have had them all. It's because Blankenbuehler numbers don't actually stop shows—they push them forward, vibrantly, relentlessly, ingeniously. They exist in a specific moment of a specific musical.
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Dance Spirit

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.

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Dance Spirit

Thank you for celebrating this year's incredible Dance Magazine Award honorees with us. Watch on demand here.

As this year like none other finally draws to a close, I've noticed a familiar sentiment popping up: Everything that we've lost since COVID-19 hit has made many of us that much more appreciative of all that we have. For me, I might have felt this most potently with the Dance Magazine Awards.

Putting together our ceremony amid the unique turmoil of 2020—and the deep reflections it's inspired—forced us to take a fresh look at not only how we do this, but why. And it comes down to this: The Dance Magazine Awards are about celebrating the icons among us, declaring that these are our living legends whose work we are honored to experience in our own lifetimes.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Christian Peacock

This week we're sharing tributes to all the 2020 Dance Magazine Award honorees. For tickets to our virtual ceremony taking place December 7, visit dancemediafoundation.org.


Through the years it seems that Debbie Allen has never stopped, whether she's been performing, producing, directing, teaching or mentoring a whole new generation of performers.

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Auditions
AMDA students learn how to present their best selves on camera. Photo by Trae Patton, Courtesy AMDA

Ah, audition day. The flurry of new choreography, the long lines of dancers, the wait for callbacks. It's an environment dancers know well, but it can also come with great stress. Learning how to be best prepared for the big day is often the key to staying calm and performing to your fullest potential (and then some).

This concept is the throughline of the curriculum at American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where dance students spend all four years honing their audition skills.

"You're always auditioning," says Santana Trujillo, AMDA's dance outreach manager and a graduate of its BFA program. On campus in Los Angeles and New York City, students have access to dozens of audition opportunities every semester.

For advice on how dancers can put their best foot forward at professional auditions, Dance Magazine recently spoke with Trujillo, as well as AMDA faculty members Michelle Elkin and Genevieve Carson. Catch the whole conversation below, and read on for highlights.

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Courtesy Derry

As a principal at metaLAB (at) Harvard, Lins Derry thinks through how humans and emerging technologies work with one another. She is one of the world's foremost experts on the design of choreographic interfaces: the practice of using carefully designed bodily motions (think: using "pinch-to-zoom" or swiping right or left on your mobile device) to bring humans and computers into productive dialogue. "I take choreographic models and think about how they apply to different design processes," says Derry. "How can interactive systems penetrate proprioception, and how can the body relay information back to those systems?"

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Training
Inside one of Interlochen's brand-new dance studios. Courtesy Interlochen Center for the Arts

After months of practicing in a cramped space at home, young dancers have dreamed of training in a spacious, airy studio. And when the facilities are as resplendent as the brand-new dance center at Michigan's Interlochen Center for the Arts, everyday technique class is to be savored.

The recently renovated and vastly expanded 26,000-square-foot Dance Center at Interlochen is now a world-class facility on par with those of premier conservatories and professional companies. Joseph Morrissey, Interlochen's director of dance, says a lot of careful thought went into the architecture: "This could not just be a building that dance is going to go into. This is a building that is made for dance." To build the best facilities for his students, Morrissey sought out Flansburgh Architects, the group behind the beautiful Perles Family Studio at Jacob's Pillow.

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Health & Body
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In the dance world, most companies and training programs have resources to support injured dancers. However, the same standards are not always in place for dancers who need time off for mental health reasons. "It's hard enough to take time away for a physical injury," says former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancer Casey Pentrack. In 2016, although she had been poised for a long, promising career, she quit dancing due to challenges with depression and an eating disorder. "For something that's so unseen as a mental injury," she says, "it can be difficult to convince yourself or communicate to others that time off might be necessary."

Yet according to Dr. Lynda Mainwaring, a performance and sports psychologist based in Canada, dancers are particularly vulnerable to mental health challenges because of the demanding nature of their profession. Whether they are struggling with a chronic condition or confronting a period of burnout, there are times when "pushing through it" isn't healthy, or even possible.

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News
Christopher Duggan, Courtesy AAADT

Delayed debuts, triumphant returns, onstage reunions—there's loads to celebrate across the December performance landscape. Here are five offerings we don't want to miss.

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Rant & Rave
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On what began as an ordinary day in early fall, I and the other dancers in my pre-professional ballet program were told that we were going to be measured by the costume shop in anticipation of our upcoming Nutcracker performances with the company. We were lined up in a hallway that led to the open common area of the building. And one by one, we stepped forward to face the measuring tape. As each of us was measured by an assistant costumier, the numbers were recited out loud and written down by another member of the staff sitting at a table nearby. Efficient, yes. And then we were asked to step on a scale, and just as with the other measurements that were taken, the numbers were read aloud. And we, the teenagers with big aspirations for careers in ballet, listened to those numbers and took mental notes.

This moment was more than 15 years ago. Despite my own efforts to address mental health issues in dance, I have tried to comfort myself with the knowledge that something like this would certainly not happen today.

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