Dance News

And the Martha Hill Dance Fund Award Goes To…4 Outstanding Professionals Honored

Murray Louis in Kite (c. 1960s). Photo courtesy of The Niikolais/Louis Foundation for Dance, Inc.

This year's Martha Hill Dance Fund Awards Gala will be like a homecoming for Limón Dance Company artistic director Carla Maxwell.

“Martha Hill was one of my teachers and mentors—I studied under her at Juilliard in the '60s," says Maxwell, who has directed Limón since 1978. “And of course Murray Louis was one of my mentors when I first took over the company."

Both Maxwell and Louis receive Lifetime Achievement Awards at this year's Awards Gala, which honors two others in the mid-career and young professional categories.

Elizabeth McPherson, who serves as the fund's board secretary, describes Maxwell as “a tenacious leader, a visionary and very much a steward in keeping our modern dance legacy alive through performance of Limón and Doris Humphrey repertory, as well as commissioning work from current choreographers."

Louis has created more than 100 works, was a soloist with the Nikolais Dance Theater in 1949 and was appointed associate director in 1951. He is known for the Nikolais/Louis technique and founded The Murray Louis Dance Company in 1953. “Murray Louis has devoted his life to dance in many facets," McPherson says. “With humor and grace, he has worn many hats—dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, writer. He is a pioneer and an entrepreneur."

Martha Hill was a dance education pioneer, herself, who founded the American Dance Festival and the dance departments at Bennington College and The Juilliard School. Every year since 2001, the fund holds a gala honoring carefully chosen individuals to celebrate Hill's commitment to dance education and performance. Past awardees have included company directors, performers, teachers, choreographers, dance writers and administrators.

Mark DeGarmo, who directs his own company and educational foundation, Mark DeGarmo Dance, receives this year's Mid-Career Award. His work in developing an organization of teaching artists has impacted the lives of thousands of New York City public school children.

The Young Professional Award goes to Ailey II dancer Jacoby Pruitt. An outside agency selects this awardee, and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Dance Department selected Pruitt, who earned his BFA there.

The Dance Notation Bureau also receives a special citation in celebration of its 75th year of creating dance scores using Labanotation, which allows dances to be performed after the lifetime of the artist.

The awards took place November 30, at The Manhattan Penthouse in New York City.

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