Dance Magazine Awards
Jodi Melnick and Marc Happel presenting to Sara Mearns. Photo by Christopher Duggan

What a night. The Dance Magazine Awards yesterday at the Ailey Citigroup Theater was jam-packed with love for dance.

From legendary icons to early-career choreographers we can't stop obsessing over, the Dance Magazine Awards, presented by the Dance Media Foundation, recognized a wide spectrum of our field.

And with more performances than ever before, the night was an incredible celebration of the dance community. As host Wendy Perron pointed out, in many ways, we doubled the usual fun this year: Some honorees had two performances, some had two presenters, and David Gordon and Valda Setterfield were themselves, well, two awardees.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Jayme Thornton (2)

All net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony go towards the Harkness Promise Awards, which grant $5,000 and 40 hours of studio space to innovative young choreographers. This year's awardees are Bobbi Jene Smith and Caleb Teicher.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Courtesy The Joyce

In an industry that has been clamoring for more female leadership, Linda Shelton, executive director of New York City's The Joyce Theater Foundation since 1993, has been setting an example for decades. As a former general manager of The Joffrey Ballet, U.S. tour manager for the Bolshoi Ballet, National Endowment for the Arts panelist, Dance/NYC board member and Benois de la Danse judge, as well as a current Dance/USA board member, Shelton has served as a global leader in dance. In her tenure at The Joyce, she has not only increased the venue's commissioned programming, but also started presenting beyond The Joyce's walls in locations such as Lincoln Center.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB

Sara Mearns is a force. There is a monumentality to her dancing that was apparent even as a young corps member of 19, cast in her first Swan Lake with New York City Ballet. She threw herself into the role heart and soul, stretching each shape to the limit, trusting the music to carry her to a deep place (and her partner to save her should she go too far). In the 13 years since, her dancing has gained in power and focus, while never losing that edge of risk.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Luc Delahaye, Courtesy Gordon & Setterfield

How to frame two lifetimes of work as broad and vibrant as that of choreographer David Gordon and performer Valda Setterfield? When onstage together, an invisible tether connects them, whether they're kibitzing, chiding, flirting or embracing a sense of melancholy.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet

When Angel Corella took over as artistic director of Pennsylvania Ballet in 2014, the company underwent a sea change. And while some in the ballet world were shocked by Corella's vision to reinvigorate and redirect the company, longtime fans of his career shouldn't have expected anything less.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Andrew Eccles, Courtesy Ailey

When Masazumi Chaya moved to New York City in 1970, leaving his Japanese homeland behind, he never dreamed he would become one of the longest-serving artists with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

For 47 years, Chaya has been a constant force in the Ailey studios: first as a dancer for 15 years, then as choreographic assistant to Ailey, a rehearsal director and, most recently, associate artistic director alongside Judith Jamison and Robert Battle. Quietly guiding hundreds of AAADT dancers to find their own artistic voices has sustained his unwavering work ethic for decades.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Clockwise from top left: Angel Corella photo by Arian Molina Soca, courtesy Pennsylvania Ballet. David Gordon and Valda Setterfield photo by Luc Delahaye, Courtesy Gordon and Setterfield. Sara Mearns photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB. Masazumi Chaya photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy Ailey

The 2019 Dance Magazine Awards are here! A tradition dating back to 1954, the Dance Magazine Awards have long celebrated living legends who've made a lasting impact on dance. These days, we go even further with our recently added Chairman's Award for distinctive leaders behind the scenes, and Harkness Promise Awards, a grant for innovative young choreographers.

So who's included among this year's honorees?

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Dance Magazine Awards
Misty Copeland opened the 2018 Dance Magazine Awards. Photo by Christopher Duggan.

What does it mean to be human? Well, many things. But if you were at the Dance Magazine Awards last night, you could argue that to be human is to dance. Speeches about the powerful humanity of our art form were backed up with performances by incredible dancers hailing from everywhere from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago to Miami City Ballet.

Misty Copeland started off the celebration. A self-professed "Dance Magazine connoisseur from the age of 13," she not only spoke about how excited she was to be in a room full of dancers, but also—having just come from Dance Theatre of Harlem's memorial for Arthur Mitchell—what she saw as their duty: "We all in this room hold a responsibility to use this art for good," she said. "Dance unifies, so let's get to work."

That sentiment was repeated throughout the night.

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Dance Magazine Awards
Harkness Promise Awardees Raja Feather Kelly and Ephrat Asherie. Photos by Kate Shot Me and Matthew Murphy

The Dance Magazine Awards are almost here. As we look forward to the celebration on Monday night, we're sharing an excerpt from the program—a letter written by our CEO Frederic Seegal:

The 61st year of the Dance Magazine Awards represents a major step forward. It extends the reach of the awards and now marks the second year of our collaboration with the Harkness Foundation for Dance, thus uniting two iconic organizations.

Firstly, this will be the inaugural presentation of the Harkness Promise Awards, which recognizes new talent at the upswing of their careers. Nurturing emerging artists, especially choreographers, is critical to ensuring dance's role in today's cultural landscape.

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Popular
Studio Bleu students Jaxon Keller, Samantha Halker and Alia Wiggins. Photos by Chris Stark

When it comes to equipment, dancers don't need much—just shoes and whatever can fit in their dance bag. But between rehearsals in the studio and performances on stage, one major piece of equipment often goes overlooked—the floor.

Dancers too often find themselves warming up on the concrete or carpet backstage, or wanting to practice in a location without a proper floor. For years, Harlequin Floors has offered a solution to this problem with its innovative turning board, offering a portable and personal floor that can be flipped between marley and wood. Now, they've revolutionized portability again with their practice mat, offering dancers the option to roll up their own personal floor and sling it over their shoulders like a yoga mat.

We spoke with experts from every corner of the dance industry to see how Harlequin's products have become their everyday essentials:

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Health & Body
Courtesy Henderson

As a dancer and personal trainer, I'm used to spending most of my time in the studio or gym. While I'm really missing those places, I'm glad to stay in to help keep myself and others safe—and I'm taking advantage of what I've learned from years of training clients in their apartments using minimal equipment.

With a little creativity, lots of things you already have at home make great fitness props. First up: six dancer-friendly exercises you can do with just towels.

You'll want two small hand towels, or some kind of similar cloth. (Paper plates can work, too!)

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Popular
Dance Magazine video editor Kelsey Grills takes a virtual class. Courtesy Grills

Odds are, your social media feed has recently become cluttered with a barrage of virtual dance classes. The dance community's response to the coronavirus pandemic has been quick and creative, with artists across the field jumping on the online class bandwagon.

These classes, and the posts from students taking them, are often accompanied by language about how class is essential for dancers' physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, and how this is an opportunity to connect with one another in a time of social distancing.

While for many this is true, the new culture of virtual dance classes has some dancers feeling more overwhelmed than excited.

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Dance History
Courtesy DM Archives

The technique developed by the legendary Luigi has become inextricable from jazz dance. But it was born from a career that almost never was: In 1946, at 21, the dancer was left comatose and partially paralyzed in the wake of a car accident, two months to the day after his discharge from the U.S. Navy. It was doubtful he would walk again, but three years later he danced in his first Hollywood film—and began developing and adapting the exercises that would form the basis of his technique.

Luigi (who was born Eugene Louis Faccuito but went by the nickname given to him by Gene Kelly while filming On the Town) spent a lifetime imparting his knowledge. "I want to know who you are as a human being," he told us in the April 1991 issue of Dance Magazine. "I don't sit at home and plan an artificial feeling for the class. I use the life around me at the moment—the students in the class—and whatever they present to me. What you are at the moment is important to me. There is enough life experience in me to be able to call upon what is needed."

He received a Dance Magazine Award in 2014 and passed away the following April, just a few weeks after his 95th birthday.

Training
Jason Hill, courtesy Disenhof

When dancer Katherine Disenhof found out her company, NW Dance Project, would be shutting down indefinitely due to the coronavirus pandemic (on Friday the 13th, no less), she immediately went in search of ways to stay connected and in shape.

At that point, a few virtual class opportunities had emerged, so Disenhof decided to aggregate them on an Instagram account called Dancing Alone Together.

She launched the account that Monday, and by mid-week she'd also created a website. Now, just a few weeks later, Dancing Alone Together has 22K followers—and virtual classes are more than just a growing trend, but a phenomenon that has reshaped the dance world at an unprecedented speed.

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Training
Burmann working with Wendy Whelan at Steps. Photo by Kyle Froman.

Over the last 36 years, scores of dancers passed through Wilhelm Burmann's studio doors at Steps on Broadway in New York City. Burmann, who went by "Willy," welcomed everyone—from huge dance stars to young students with huge dreams. He also welcomed adult students seeking to improve their technique and even students just taking ballet class for exercise.

On Tuesday, March 31, he died of renal failure after his treatment was complicated by the coronavirus, and the dance world lost a beloved teacher and coach.

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