THE DOUGLAS WATT FAMILY FUND FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS HONORED
The 34th Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievements in dance on Broadway and in film, took place on Monday, May 16, 2016. This year’s Award Recipients included Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Nigel Lythgoe, Creator & Executive Director of So You Think You Can Dance. Choreographer Maurice Hines received a special award for his body of work in the field of dance. Dr. Joan Fallon also received an award for special achievement in the field of autism and related disorders.
Patricia Watt (Executive Director, The Fred & Adele Astaire Awards)
Jessica Zippin (Dance Therapist, The Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts & Associate Producer of the Fred & Adele Astaire Awards)
Judith Jamison (Artistic Director Emerita at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater & Astaire Award winner of Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award)
Nigel Lythgoe (Creator & Executive Director of So You Think You Can Dance & Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Dance Award)
Maurice Hines (Actor, Director, Jazz singer and Choreographer & Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Body of Work in Dance Award)
Dr. Joan Fallon (Winner of Special Achievement in the Field of Autism and Related Disorders Award)
Jane Krakowski (Actress & Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show Award)
Dave Scott (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Choreography in a Feature Film Award)
Rumi Oyama (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Female Dancer Off-Broadway Award)
Robert Creighton (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Male Dancer Off-Broadway Award)
Connor Gallagher (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Choreography Off-Broadway Award)
Paul McGill (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Choreography Off-Broadway Award)
Phillip Attmore (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show Award)
Andy Blankenbuehler (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show Award)
Savion Glover (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show Award)
Sergio Trujillo (Astaire Award winner of Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show Award)
The gala evening, which was held at the Skirball Center for the Performing Arts in New York, commenced with a Red Carpet & VIP Cocktail Reception followed by the Performances & Awards Ceremony, after which a VIP After Party was held at the Hebrew Union College to which some 350 award recipients, performers and well-wishers attended. Over the course of the night, a number of special performances were made.
The evening’s presenters included Tony Award Nominee Patricia Birch, Tony Award Nominee Leanne Cope, Tony Award Nominee Don Correia, Tony Award Nominee Sandy Duncan, Tony Award Nominee Charlotte D’Amboise, Tony Award Nominee Robert Fairchild, Tony Award Winner Christopher Gattelli, Academy Award, Golden Globe and Tony Award Winner Joel Grey, Obie Award Winner Jackie Hoffman, Tony Award Nominee Terrence Mann, NYCB Principal Dancer Tiler Peck, Tony Award Winner Susan Stroman, Tony Award Nominee Tony Yazbeck, Producer Randi Zuckerberg. There were also several live performances throughout the evening, featuring Emmy Winner and Drama Desk Nominee Spencer Liff, So You Think You Can Dance Season 10 Winner Amy Yakima, Broadway Dancer Francesca Harper, Tony Award Nominee Desmond Richardson, Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Company Member Rachael McLaren, and the cast of Broadway’s On Your Feet.
All proceeds from the event will benefit non-profit 501 c(3) organization The Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts, which provides Dance and Movement Therapy for autistic and disabled children in New York City. The goal of the organization is to bring artistic expression to the developmentally disabled children in our community. The event was produced by Patricia Watt, NYC Dance Alliance, Fred Astaire Studios and consulting producers Todd Allan and Beth Bogush, with Associate Producers Jessica Zippin and Alix Michel.
The evening started off with the Latin inspired performance “Tradición” from the musical On Your Feet, written by Emilio Estefan and Gloria Estefan and choreographed by Sergio Trujilo. This was followed by a welcome speech from Patricia Watt and Joe Lanteri, after which the Special Achievement in the Field of Autism and Related Disorders Award was bestowed on Dr. Joan Fallon. This announcement was followed by a few words from Jessica Zippin about the organization’s Dance & Movement Therapy Program and the big difference it makes in the lives of children with autism and severe cognitive dysfunction.
The first dance award of the evening, presented by Kiera Chaplin, was won by Dave Scott for High Strung in the category Outstanding Choreography in a Feature Film of which the nominees included: Luke Broadlick, Teresa Espinosa, Alison Faulk & Channing Tatum (MagicMike XXL); Christopher Gattelli (Hail, Caesar!); Aakomon Jones (Pitch Perfect 2); Joey Pizzi (Lucky Stiff); Fatima Robinson & Charm Jordan (Dance Camp) and Dave Scott (High Strung).
Next was the evening’s second performance “Let’s Face the Music & Dance” by The Fred Astaire Dance Studios, choreographed by Steven Powell. The lively dance performance featured music from Lady Gaga and Tony Bennet.
For the first time this year, the Fred & Adele Astaire Awards recognized excellence in dance, movement, and choreography Off-Broadway. The Off-Broadway awards for the 2015-2016 season were presented next by Jackie Hoffman and Randi Zuckerberg.
Rumi Oyama (Sayonara) was the winner of the category for Outstanding Female Dancer Off-Broadway. Nominees included: Yesenia Ayala (Trip Of Love); Leslie Kritzer (Robber Bridegroom); Rumi Oyama (Sayonara); Jaime Lynn Verazin (Standard Time); Ellen Zolezzi (Cagney).
The award for Outstanding Male Dancer Off-Broadway was won by Robert Creighton (Cagney). The nominees included: Jeremy Benton (Cagney); Dave Thomas Brown (The Legend Of Georgia Mcbride); Robert Creighton (Cagney); Cory Lingner (Once Upon A Mattress); Matt McGrath (The Legend Of Georgia Mcbride).
The Award for Outstanding Choreography Off-Broadway resulted in a tie between Connor Gallagher (of The Robber Bridegroom) and Paul McGill (of The Legend of Georgia Mcbride). Nominees in this category included: Joshua Bergasse (Cagney); Martha Clarke (Angel Reapers); Connor Gallagher (The Robber Bridegroom); Paul McGill (The Legend Of Georgia Mcbride); James Ortiz, Claire Karpen & Will Gallacher (The Woodsman); Sergio Trujillo & Darrell Grand Moultrie (Invisible Thread).
The performance “A Humble Tribute” was then performed by dancers (and also choreographed by) Leo and John Manzari.
Next, Choreographer Maurice Hines, who appeared Off-Broadway this season in his show Tappin’ Through Life, was recognized with a special recognition award for Outstanding Body of Work in Dance. In his remarked he told the audience of how “my final work was choreography of ballet dancers for Stevie Wonder and I was working through the project a life-time of memories and experiences came flooding back.”
This was followed by two back-to-back performances. First, “Where Do I Begin”, choreographed by Spencer Liff, followed by “Dr. Jazz”, choreographed by Warren Carlyle.
The third special award recipient of the evening was Nigel Lythgoe, Creator & Executive Director of So You Think You Can Dance. In accepting the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Dance he noted self-deprecatingly that, “I was the original Billy Elliot. I could take dance lessons only if I took boxing lessons also – after three broken noses dance and choreography became my true focus”.
The performance “For a Sophisticated Lady” was then held by Francesca Harper and Desmond Richardson, staged by Chet Walker and with music by Duke Ellington. After this, an excerpt from CRY (1971) was performed, choreographed by Alvin Ailey and restaged by Masazumi Chaya.
The fourth and last special award of the evening, presented by Patricia Birch and Joel Gray, was given to Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. When awarded the Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award she noted that, “People always ask me ‘why did you want to be a dancer?’ to which I reply that I always felt I needed to be a dancer.”
Thereafter, the award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show was presented by Christopher Gattelli, and included: Bright Star, Dames at Sea, Fiddler on the Roof, Hamilton, On Your Feet, School of Rock, She Loves Me, Shuffle Along and Spring Awakening, with the Award being presented to Shuffle Along.
Phillip Attmore (of Shuffle Along) won the award for Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show, which was presented by Leanne Cope and Tony Yazbeck. Nominees included: Phillip Attmore (Shuffle Along); Alex Brightman (School of Rock); Daveed Diggs (Hamilton); Carlos E. Gonzalez (On Your Feet); Curtis Holland (Shuffle Along); Kendrick Jones (Shuffle Along); Luis Salgaldo (On Your Feet).
The category Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show, presented by Charlotte d’Amboise and Terrence Mann, included nominees: Mara Davi (Dames at Sea); Deanna Doyle (Tuck Everlasting); Sandra Mae Frank (Spring Awakening); Jane Krakowski (She Loves Me); Eloise Kropp (Dames at Sea); Ana Villafañe (On Your Feet); Adrienne Warren (Shuffle Along). The award was won by Jane Krakowski (She Loves Me).
The last award of the evening for Outstanding Choreographer in a Broadway Show, presented by Sandi Duncan and Don Correia, resulted in a three way tie between Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton), Savion Glover (Shuffle Along) and Sergio Trujillo (On Your Feet). The nominees were: Andy Blankenbuehler (Hamilton); Warren Carlyle (She Loves Me); Savion Glover (Shuffle Along); Lorin Latarro (Waitress); Spencer Liff (Spring Awakening); Casey Nicholaw (Tuck Everlasting); Josh Rhodes (Bright Star); Hofesh Shechter (Fiddler on the Roof); Randy Skinner (Dames at Sea) and Sergio Trujillo (On Your Feet).
The Awards Ceremony concluded with the performance “Gloria”, featuring a mix of Gloria Estefan music and choreographed by Justin M. Lewis and Mark Orsborn.
The Off-Broadway Committee was comprised of Andy Sandberg (Chair), Jonathan Herzog, Michael Milton, Nikki Feirt Atkins, Judith Jamison, and Lee Roy Reams. The winners were announced on May 16th at the annual Astaire Awards ceremony alongside the 2015-2016 Broadway and Film Awards.
The Nominating Committee Chair was Wendy Federman, supported by committee members: Nikki Atkins, Ted Chapin, Pat Collins, Don Correia, Sandy Duncan, Jonathan C. Herzog, Judith Jamison, Anna Kisselgoff, Pia Lindstrom, Donna McKechnie, Bruce Michael, Mary McColl, Michael Milton, Mary Beth O’Connor, Laura Penn, Wendy Perron, Lee Roy Reams, Andy Sandberg and Harry Haun.
The Honorary Committee for the 34th Annual Fred & Adele Astaire Awards was comprised of: Karole Armitage, Rob Ashford, Hinton Battle, Bob Balaban, Marisa Berenson, Anna Bergman, Patricia Birch, Chase Brock, Tricia Brouk, Ron Brown, Jeff Calhoun, Warren Carlyle, Marge Champion, Wayne Cilento, Louis Hirschfeld Cullman, Arlene Dahl, Jacques D’Amboise, Graciela Daniele, Peter Darling, Marguerite Derricks, Kelly Devine, Marcia Milgrom Dodge, Eve Ensler, Daniel Ezralow, Jules Fisher, Roberta Flack, Wilhelmina Frankfurt, Mario Fratti, Christopher Gattelli, Mitzi Gaynor, Kearran Giovanni, Savion Glover, Joel Grey, Peggy Hickey, Steven Hoggett, JoAnn Hunter, Anne Jackson, Susan Jaffee, Denis Jones, Paul Katz, Larry Keigwin, Daniel Knechtges, Spencer Liff, Michele Lynch, Kathleen Marshall, Rob Marshall, Julie McDonald, Donna McKechnie, Joey McKneely, Stephen Mear, Liza Minnelli, Jerry Mitchell, Bebe Neuwirth, Phyllis Newman, Casey Nicholaw, Marsha Norman, Kenny Ortega, Robert Osbourne, Jeffrey Page, Daniel Pelzig, Jane Powell, Josh Prince, Ann Reinking, Michael Rubenstein, Wendy Seyb, Lisa Schriver, Randy Skinner, Victoria Traube, Sergio Trujillo, Anthony van Laast, Chet Walker, Patti Wilcox and Matt Williams.
This year’s nominations were announced on Monday May 2nd, 2016.
About The Fred & Adele Astaire Awards
The Fred & Adele Astaire Awards were established in 1982 to recognize outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway and in film. The annual awards were established with the cooperation of Fred Astaire to also honor his sister Adele, who starred with her brother in ten Broadway musicals between 1917 and 1931. The Fred & Adele Awards remain the gold standard for excellence in dance and choreography on Broadway and film. Since 1982, additional awards have been added, including the award for best choreography in film, the lifetime achievement award, and a unique award determined annually for exceptional contribution to the field.
For more information and tickets, visit www.theastaireawards.org/
Photo Credit: Patrick McMullan