Dance Magazine Awards Go to Williams, Marks and Holmes, and Bessy; Cortez Gets Citation

By Gladstone, Valerie | Dance Magazine, May 1997 | Go to article overview

Dance Magazine Awards Go to Williams, Marks and Holmes, and Bessy; Cortez Gets Citation


Gladstone, Valerie, Dance Magazine


NEW YORK CITY -- The Dance Magazine Awards, an institution in the dance world since I 1954, this year go to Claude Bessy, Bruce Marks and Anna-Marie Holmes, and Dudley Williams, Dance Magazine editor in chief Richard Philp announced. A special citation goes to Hernando Cortez and Dancers Responding to AIDS. The awards will be presented May 5 at the Asia Society in New York City. This year's winners represent a wide spectrum of what superb dancemakers can do as performers, teachers, directors, and activists to shape the art's history.

The Dance Magazine Award honors significant contributions to dance. Dance Magazine editors and correspondents from around the world submit nominations, with a panel of senior editors selecting the awardees. This year's recipients were chosen by a panel chaired by senior editor Clive Barnes and including Philp, Doris Hering, Marilyn Hunt, Robert Greskovic, Hilary Ostlere, and Tobi Tobias.

CLAUDE BESSY

Claude Bessy is the director of the Paris Opera Ballet School.

Only a few years after she joined POB, Bessy drew the attention of some of the century's leading choreographers. In 1947 George Balanchine noticed her beauty, grace, and suppleness and gave her solos in Le Palais de cristal (Symphony in C) and Serenade. Serge Lifar displayed her brilliance in Les Mirages in 1954 and in Chemin de lumiere in 1957. She created the role of Venus in John Cranko's La belle Helene and introduced jazz to the Opera in 1960 when she danced in Gene Kelly's Pas de Dieux to the music of George Gershwin.

In 1958 Bessy became the first ballerina from POB to be invited to dance with American Ballet Theatre. She also performed with the Bolshoi and other major companies in Europe and Latin America. In 1967 she was in a serious car accident that might have ended her career, but within a few months she returned to the stage in Daphnis and Chloe, triumphing over injuries that would have felled most performers. Three years later, she became the company's ballet mistress. In one of her last appearances before retiring from the stage in 1975, she designed a program for Maurice Bejart at the Palais des Sports and took the lead in his Bolero.

Bessy has also been involved in theater and film, appearing with Kelly in Invitation to the Dance as well as in many television productions. A gifted choreographer, she created Studio 60, Les Fourmis, and Play-Bach and several other ballets for the school. Under her tutelage, the pupils of the school have won medals and prizes in Moscow and Varna and in Japan. She is an officer of the Legion of Honor and author of two books, Danseuse Etoile and La Danse et l'enfant.

BRUCE MARKS AND

ANNA-MARIE HOLMES

When Bruce Marks was hired to head the financially troubled Boston Ballet in 1985, no one imagined that it would become, under his direction, one of the top companies in the United States. It owed $1.5 million, drew bad press, and was housed in a crumbling garage. To fulfill his mandate to increase the prestige of the company, Marks decided that the only way to succeed would be to acquire the best ballets and best dancers available. Within a year, BB was in the black and on its way to greater profitability. One of Marks's greatest coups was getting Fernando Bujones involved with the company. Having the superstar as a regular guest artist demonstrated to other major dancers that Boston was a good place to perform, and big names meant bigger audiences. How did he do it? "One task at a time," Marks responds.

Marks then turned to revitalizing the repertory. In 1986 he commissioned Mark Morris's Mort Subite, in 1988 Monica Levy's Ghosts, and in 1992, he held a monthlong festival of modern dance that included works by Twyla Tharp, Bill T. Jones, and Bebe Miller. He followed that success with a monthlong "American Festival" of contemporary ballet in 1995.

Marks did more than produce an excellent company.

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