Dance Magazine Awards 2014

Ailey Citigroup Theater, New York City
December 8, 2014

A Review

The lobby is lively before the house opens. Friends who have not seen one another for a year are busy renewing and reviewing. The decibels mount. And then the house opens and we obediently file in.

Those of you who know the Ailey theater know it is a New York City steep auditorium with lighting controls at the top behind the audience and a great stage space. It takes a while for all of us to settle while those of us who are not in the “in” crowd contemplate the empty stage floor with an overlay for tap dance.

It finally begins… fashionably late.

It opens with tap dancing: All Blues/Tacit/Latin (excerpt), choreographed by Brenda Bufalino and danced by Felipe Galganni and Lynn Schwab, with intricate footwork and elegant carriage. This would have been better placed later in the program (between the ballet duets), but the need for the mats over the Marley dance floor to provide the intended sound of tapping took precedence. During the following presentation of the award to Brenda Bufalino and Tony Waag by Constance Valis Hill, the tap floor was removed and provoked the announcement: “Thank you, Ailey students, for your stage crew services.”

Luigi in the studio, teaching his classes ~ Photo by Lucas Chilczuk

Then followed three more duets, all ballet, all com­petently performed and choreographically interesting, interspersed by long presentation speeches. An exception was that of Liza Minelli who presented to Luigi, neither of whom could be present. Liza was on video and projected, which lasted only about one minute. Luigi, who is re­covering in hospital, was represented by Francis Roach (who was not brief). I did enjoy hearing Raven Wilkinson speak, who, as the first black dancer in any established ballet company, pre­sented to Misty Copeland. All the performances were strong, although the lighting and production elements were unsupportive. In fact, little if any attention was given to the mounting of the bal­lets: all were seemingly the same illumination, which added nothing to the dance state­ment. The only attempt at such was a downlight for the tap dancing, which unfortunately was insufficient to cover the area of the dance.

Program, first page

Program, second page

I do note that there was no award given to a modern dance choreographer. Does that mean that there were none of note? Or that Dance Mag is not all inclusive?

—Ruth Grauert, December 10, 2014   

Alwin Nikolais received the Dance Magazine Award in 1968, Murray Louis in 1977, and Hanya Holm in 1990.

For more information on this year’s award recipients, see Dance Magazine’s Dance Magazine Awards 2014.