The Bessies reveal this year’s dance and performance awards nominees

The Bessies reveal this year’s dance and performance awards nominees
Morgan Bobrow-Williams performs in "Motherboard Suite." Photo: Tony Turner.

The nominees for the 37th annual New York Dance and Performance Awards, known as the Bessies, were revealed Wednesday, with nods divided up into to six categories ranging from Outstanding Production to Outstanding Breakout Choreographer.

Set for a virtual presentation, the 2021 awards ceremony will be livestreamed Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern, with registration starting Sept. 20. Nominees were drawn from a pool of digital performances presented between March 15, 2020, and May 31, 2021, and in-person shows held June 1, 2020, through May 31, 2021.

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“Dance artists and their collaborators have continued to dream and build during the pandemic,” Bessies Executive Director Heather Robles said in an announcement. “They have called upon each of us to reimagine and commit our collective movement toward equity, justice, and healing. We are thrilled to celebrate their work and the resilience of our community at the virtual 2021 Bessies Ceremony.”

Choreographer Kyle Abraham — who presented the dance film “If We Were a Love Song” on ALL ARTS in May as part of the inaugural “Past, Present, Future” festival — and dancer Taylor Stanley picked up a nomination in the Outstanding Production category for “Ces noms que nous portons,” a four-minute piece filmed on the Lincoln Center Plaza in 2020. Abraham was also recognized for “When We Fell,” premiered by New York City Ballet in April, for both Outstanding Production and Outstanding Visual Design, a nomination he shares with Ryan Marie Helfant, Eric K. Yue and Esteban Pedraza.

"When We Fell." Photo: Ryan Marie Helfant.
“When We Fell.” Photo: Ryan Marie Helfant.

Tap dancer and choreographer Ayodele Casel was nominated in Outstanding Production for “Chasing Magic,” which received further recognition in the Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design field, where Arturo O’Farrill, Crystal Monee Hall, Annastasia Victory and Senfu Stoney were named as nominees for the work.

The production “The Motherboard Suite” (music by Saul Williams and direction by Bill T. Jones) was also well represented, with four nominations: one for Outstanding Production (which went to Williams, Jones and choreographers Maria Bauman, Kayla Farrish, Marjani Forté-Saunders, d. Sabela grimes, Jasmine Hearn and Shamel Pitts), two for Outstanding Performer (grimes and Hearn) and a final nod for Outstanding Music Composition/Sound Design (Williams).

Stefanie Batten Bland’s “Kolonial,” mayfield brooks’ “Whale Fall,” Janessa Clark’s “Communion,” Johnnie Cruise Mercer’s “_AShadowPrince,” Israel Galván’s “Maestro de Barra,” Indigenous Enterprise’s “Indigenous Enterprise: Powwow Style,” Eiko Otake’s “A Body in a Cemetery” and Mariana Valencia’s “Brownout” are among the dozen represented in the Outstanding Production category.

Eiko Otake at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo: William Johnston.
Eiko Otake at Green-Wood Cemetery. Photo: William Johnston.

Dancers Sara Mearns and Michael Trusnovec both picked up nominations in Outstanding Performer for their roles in the 2020 Joyce Theater presentation of Molissa Fenley’s 1988 “State of Darkness,” which was also recognized in the Outstanding Revival category alongside “Watermotor” by Trisha Brown.

LaTasha Barnes, Isabella Boylston, Princess Lockerooo and Annique Roberts were each nominated in Outstanding Performer for “sustained achievement.” Marc Crousillat, Anjali Mehta, Nicholas Sciscione and Huiwang Zhang round out the cohort of 12 in the category.

Hope Boykin, Johnnie Cruise Mercer, Maleek Washington and André M. Zachery received nominations for Outstanding Breakout Choreographer, which “recognizes an artist who has made an exceptional leap in visibility and impact in their career this past season.”

A full list of nominations can be found on the Bessies website.

Top Image: Morgan Bobrow-Williams performs in "Motherboard Suite." Photo: Tony Turner.