Reliving History at the Dance Magazine Awards

Last night, the Dance Magazine Awards at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City had more ballet candy than any DM Awards I can remember. The delightful Ashley Bouder opened with an excerpt from Balanchine's Square Dance, staged by awardee Patricia Wilde, once a New York City Ballet principal and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre artistic director. Then we got a video dose of the dagger-footed Sylvie Guillem dancing Mats Ek's work. (We also learned that the choreographer's last name is pronounced with a true E: "eek," not "eck.")

Another video montage, this time of San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan, reminded me of how otherworldly she was when I saw her earlier this fall in Ghosts, choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon, who presented her award. I loved hearing Tan talk about venturing into Balanchine roles for the first time—she never saw his work or even heard Stravinsky throughout her training in Shanghai.

Damian Woetzel gave us a firsthand account of the rush you get from Philip Glass' music in Jerome Robbins' Glass Pieces. I felt a little starstruck when Glass himself came onstage, but the feeling melted quickly once he started talking. With great sincerity, Glass emphasized how humbled he is by the dancers and choreographers he's tirelessly composed for.

And then, a childhood dream of mine came true: Alessandra Ferri passionately performed a portion of award-winner Martha Clarke's Chéri, which opened in New York on Sunday, with the equally extraordinary Herman Cornejo. As a young dancer, I remember watching one American Ballet Theatre tape of Ferri in Romeo and Juliet over and over. I nearly died when she retired—I lived in Minnesota and had never gotten the chance to see her live. What an honor it was, to see history reverse and repeat itself, all evening long.

 

For video highlights of the 2013 DM Awards, click here.