Daina Ashbee (Photo: Patrice Mathieu) and Alice Sheppard (Photo: Beverlie Lord). Courtesy of the Bessies.

Daina Ashbee and Alice Sheppard Receive 2019 Bessie Awards

The New York Dance and Performance Awards, known as the Bessies, have announced the recipients of the 2019 Juried Bessie Award and Outstanding Breakout Choreographer Award, as well as the nominees for the rest of this year’s awards for categories such as Outstanding Performer and Outstanding Production. 

The Outstanding Breakout Choreographer Award, which recognizes an artist who has made an exceptional leap in visibility and impact in their career this past season, was presented to Daina Ashbee. She was selected “for using the elemental female body itself as a means to excavate and expose layered histories of violence against women. Using repetition, painful ritual, and raw and resilient bodies, her work draws the viewer into a journey of insistence and transformation.”

Alice Sheppard was named the winner of the Juried Bessie Award “for boldly and authentically inventing new movement vocabularies full of supercharged physicality and nuanced detail. Working with gravity, mechanics, human connection, and momentum, she creates work of power and empowerment.”

Established in 1984 by David R. White at Dance Theater Workshop, the Bessies are named for the influential dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher Bessie Schönberg. This year marks the awards’ thirty-fifth anniversary. The recipients of the other awards will be revealed on October 14 at a ceremony at New York University’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Chosen by the Bessie Awards Selection Committee, an independent committee of thirty-four dance industry professionals, the 2019 nominees are as follows:

Outstanding Production:

The Fever
Copresented by La MaMa, Public Theater, and Onassis USA

Kyle Abraham
The Runaway
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater

Nick Cave
The Let Go
Park Avenue Armory

Nora Chipaumire
#Punk 100% POP* N!GGA
The Kitchen

Merce Cunningham with stager Patricia Lent
Night of 100 Solos: A Centennial Event
BAM Opera House

Tania El Khoury
As Far As My Fingertips Take Me
Under the Radar/Public Theater

Juliana F. May
Folk Incest
Abrons Arts Center and American Realness

Alexei Ratmansk
The Seasons
American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House

Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble (ROKE)
The Art of Luv (Part 6): Awesome Grotto!
Abrons Arts Center

Caleb Teicher
More Forever
Guggenheim Works & Process

Noa Wertheim
One. One & One
Vertigo Dance Company
Baryshnikov Arts Center

Ni’Ja Whitson
Oba Qween Baba King Baba
Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center

Outstanding Performer:

Xianix Barrera
in Latido by Xianix Barrera
Emerging Choreographers Series at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center

Warren Craft
in Harlequin and Pantalone by Bill Irwin
Dorrance Dance
New York City Center

Leslie Cuyjet
Sustained Achievement with Jane Comfort, Niall Jones, Juliana F. May, Cynthia Oliver, and Will Rawls

Kirsten Davis
in Oba Qween Baba King Baba by Ni’Ja Whitson
Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center

Gabrielle Hamilton
in Oklahoma! choreographed by John Heginbotham
St. Ann’s Warehouse

Samantha Hines
in Attractor by Dancenorth Australia, Lucy Guerin Inc., Gideon Obarzanek, and Senyawa
Joyce Theater

Tiler Peck
Sustained Achievement with New York City Ballet

Molly Poerstal
Sustained Achievement with Hilary Clark, David Dorfman, Jeanine Durning, Alex Escalante, Juliana F. May, Susan Rethorst, Roseanne Spradlin, and Larissa Velez-Jackson

Nola Sporn Smith
in metamorphosis by Stacy Grossfield
The Kitchen, Dance and Process

Taylor Stanley
in The Runaway by Kyle Abraham
New York City Ballet
David H. Koch Theater

Shamar Watt
Sustained Achievement in the work of Nora Chipaumire

Takaomi Yoshino (aka Varvara Laptopova)
in ChopEniana by Alexandre Minz
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Joyce Theater


Outstanding Revival:

Deuce Coupe
by Twyla Tharp
American Ballet Theatre
Metropolitan Opera House

by Eleo Pomare, performed by Dyane Harvey
American Dance Guild Performance Festival, Ailey Citigroup Theater

Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done
by Yvonne Rainer, Deborah Hay, Lucinda Childs, David Gordon, Steve Paxton, Trisha Brown, and Simone Forti
Museum of Modern Art

Outstanding Sound Design/Musical Composition:

Joseph Kubera and Adam Tendler for interpretation of music of Julius Eastman, and Lamar for original composition inspired by Eastman
for Rambler, Worlds Worlds A Part by Kathy Westwater
New York Live Arts

Leyya Mona Tawil
for Future Faith by Lime Rickey International
Abrons Arts Center

Conrad Tao and Caleb Teicher
for More Forever by Caleb Teicher
Guggenheim Works & Process


Outstanding Visual Design:

Design Team: Tei Blow, Sean McElroy, Eben Hoffer, and Hyung Seok Jeon
for The Art of Luv (Part 6): Awesome Grotto! by Royal Osiris Karaoke Ensemble (ROKE)
Abrons Arts Center

Design Team: Jeanne Medina and Ni’Ja Whitson (costumes), Gil Sperling, featuring art works by Wangechi Mutu and Galvin Jantejes (video), and Tuçe Yasak (lighting)
for Oba Qween Baba King Baba by Ni’Ja Whitson
Co-commissioned by Danspace Project and Abrons Arts Center

Mirella Weingarten (set design)
for Xenos by Akram Khan
Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival at Rose Theater


Outstanding Breakout Choreographer (*indicates award recipient):

Daina Ashbee*

Jonathan González

Stacy Grossfield

Caleb Teicher