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Last night at Parsons Dance's 2019 gala, the company celebrated one of our own: DanceMedia owner Frederic M. Seegal.

In a speech, artistic director David Parsons said that he wanted to honor Seegal for the way he devotes his energy to supporting premier art organizations, "making sure that the arts are part of who we are," he said.

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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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James Whiteside and Misty Copeland in AfterEffect, Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy ABT

As a dancer, Marcelo Gomes has it all—a magnetic stage presence, impeccable musicality, technique for days and world-renowned partnering skills. But the American Ballet Theatre star has also been gaining ground as a choreographer lately, creating works for Complexions Contemporary Ballet, galas and festivals. (He also choreographed Misty Copeland's famous Under Amour ad.) Tonight marks a major milestone in his choreographic career: His first full ballet for ABT, AfterEffect, has its world premiere at the David H. Koch Theater in New York.

Gomes, who was just announced a 2015 Dance Magazine Award winner, has created short works for ABT galas in the past, including the first movement of AfterEffect in 2013. This expanded version, set to Tchaikovsky's Souvenir de Florence, includes a whopping 26 dancers and stars James Whiteside and Copeland (who has been something of a collaborator and muse for Gomes over the years). Fast-rising soloist Cassandra Trenary will perform the lead with Cory Stearns on Saturday afternoon. (You may have caught a glimpse of rehearsals during the World Ballet Day live-stream earlier this month.)

Gomes' new choreographic opportunity is a positive step for ABT, which has received criticism in the past for relying too heavily on guest stars and not developing its own dancers. With the recent promotion of Copeland and Stella Abrera, a talented roster of homegrown soloists and a 2016 Met season conspicuously light on guest artists, it looks like the company is making a serious effort to cultivate more from within.

For more news on all things ballet, don't miss a single issue.

On Monday night I got to attend the 2011 Dance Magazine Awards. The event is always chock-full of dance luminaries—both on stage and in the audience—but this year they seemed to shine extra bright.

 

The 2011 awardees were Dr. William Hamilton, Jenifer Ringer, Alexei Ratmansky, Yvonne Rainer and Kathleen Marshall. The night began with a self-deprecatingly funny Mikhail Baryshnikov presenting to Hamilton, a pioneer in the field of dance medicine. Hamilton was first asked to take care of New York City Ballet in the 1970s by George Balanchine, whom he developed a close friendship with. When accepting his award, Hamilton told of the time he asked Balanchine, "How do you make such beautiful ballets?" Balanchine responed: "It's easy: When I hear beautiful music in my mind I see bodies dancing. Then I just tell the dancers to do that." Right, easy.

 

New York City Ballet principal Jenifer Ringer gave a moving speech thanking all of the people who helped her out of what she calls her "dark years" when she fell out of love with dance. One of those people was her teacher Nancy Bielski, who urged Ringer back into class, and offered a place where she could dance again with no judgment. Another was her now-husband (who presented her with the award) James Fayette who invited her to dance with him in The Nutcracker—no matter how out of shape she thought she was, he just wanted the chance to dance with her.

 

My favorite part was hearing from Ratmasky, who spoke about his formative years at the Bolshoi School and seeing Balanchine choreography for the first time. Just listening to him, you could tell this was an intelligent artist who lives a rich inner life, who is deeply curious about the world around him. He joked that when he left his post as director of the Bolshoi to become artist in residence at American Ballet Theatre, he rejoiced that he finally had time to go see plays, read books, visit museums—but (fortunately for us) he's been kept busier than ever before, choreographing what feels like a new premiere every other month.

 

See a highlight reel of the event on dancemedia.com.

 

 

Getting to attend the annual Dance Magazine Awards is one of my favorite perks of this job. The caliber of artists you get to rub shoulders with each year is kind of amazing, if a bit overwhelming. The first time I went, as a Dance Magazine intern, I remember seeing Alessandra Ferri float up the aisle to accept her award with the exact same effortless fluidity she moves with onstage. (Full confession: I might have literally drooled in my seat.) A few years later, I brought my mom along with me, who to this day still brags about being able to go up to Christopher Wheeldon to tell him how much she loves his ballet Carousel (A Dance).

 

This year, the biggest treat for me was watching American Ballet Theatre principals Hee Seo and Cory Stearns perform Antony Tudor's The Leaves Are Fading in honor of Julie Kent. Seo has been one of my favorite ABT dancers for years—when she's on, her lines are simply breathtaking. Getting to see her dance just a few feet away from me was a rare treat. A clip of their performance just went up on dancemedia.com. I reccomend everyone take a break from Nutcracker madness and watch it here. It's only a minute long, but it's chock-full of gorgeousness.

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