In our September issue’s History: Lesson Plan, we learn about Bessie Schönberg, a celebrated composition teacher at Sarah Lawrence College for nearly 40 years, known for championing her students’ individuality. A revered mentor, she helped shape the creative work of four generations of artists.

Schönberg at Bennington College in 1934

Fun fact: The New York Dance and Performance Awards, which were established in 1983 to honor innovative dance work, are more commonly referred to as “The Bessies” in honor of Schönberg. She received her own Bessie Award for lifetime service to dance in 1988.

The 2016 Bessies take place Tuesday, October 18, at the Brooklyn Academy of Music Howard Gilman Opera House. Among the nominees for awards in outstanding production, revival, performer, emerging choreographer, music composition/sound design and visual design are Camille A. Brown, Justin Peck, Donald McKayle, Ephrat Asherie and Gillian Murphy. Check out the full list of nominees here.

Photo courtesy of the American Dance Festival archives

For more on Schönberg, subscribe to Dance Teacher and receive the September issue.

At last night’s Bessie Awards at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, we were surprised to hear that New York City’s first lady is a former Frank Hatchett devotee! That’s right: Chirlane McCray, whose husband is mayor Bill de Blasio, told the audience she used to take class from the late jazz icon (and 2013 DT Lifetime Achievement Award recipient) in her hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts. Is there anyone whose life he hasn’t touched?

Megan Williams at the 2014 Bessies

The excitement didn’t end there. The evening, which marked the awards’ 30th anniversary, featured a performance by Megan Williams (DT September 2014) in Mark Morris’ Bijoux, which was honored at the very first Bessies in 1984. And Michelle Dorrance (DT May 2012) and her dancers performed her brand of grounded rhythm tap in 2011’s Bessie-winning Three to One, where dancers are lit only from the hips down.

Michelle Dorrance's Three in One

Ailey’s Linda Celeste Sims, Nora Chipaumire of Urban Bush Women, John Jasperse and Camille A. Brown were honored, as well as Arthur Mitchell, who received recognition for Lifetime Achievement in dance.

Chirlane McCray, Chuck Davis and Wendy Whelan on the red carpet

Photos by Christopher Duggan


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