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By Sandi Durell . . .

On June 20 at NYU Skirball Center, the 2022 Chita Rivera Awards were back with a vigor that can only be described as bold and dynamic after surviving two years of pandemic challenges. These awards are the only one of their kind dedicated to acknowledging dance excellence on stage and screen presented in the name of the iconic Chita Rivera.

Joel Grey – Chita Rivera
Cast of Stomp
Hosts Bianca Marroquin and Charlotte d’Amboise

Opening the evening was the cast of Stomp with an amazing rhythmic tap done with sticks, followed by hosts Charlotte d’Amboise and Bianca Marroquin telling humorous tales of their former award acceptances while giving information about NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, Joe Lanteri (Executive Producer/Director) and Patricia Watt (Executive Producer) as to where the evening’s monies go – – – to benefit the NYC Dance Alliance Foundation College Scholarship Fund. An informative video of some of the young dancer scholarship recipients made the words a reality.

American Dance Machine for the 21st Century regaled with “Moses Supposes” (Singin’ in the Rain) in a re-creation by Caleb Teicher performing with John Manzari.

Tony Award winning choreographer Sergio Trujillo presented the first award for Outstanding Direction of a Documentary Release in a tie to director Josh Prince for “First Try” and to director John Carluccio for “Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back.” The award for Outstanding Choreography for a Theatrical Release went to Ryan Heffington for “tick…tick…Boom!”

Kudos were given to all the understudies by Dylis Croman to loud applause.

Funny Girl’s Jared Grimes gave an explosive tap performance garnering a standing ovation, followed by the presentation of an Off-Broadway Outstanding Choreography award to Josh Prince for Trevor and Outstanding Ensemble Award for The Wrong Man.

Annie-B Parsons
Alan Wiggins – A.J. Shively

Tony Nominee and legend Lee Roy Reams (one of the best storytellers) presented the Douglas & Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award to Annie-B Parson for her creation of David Byrne’s visually exciting experience in American Utopia. She gave insight into how the band became dancers.

The Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show went to Paradise Square that came to life when A.J. Shively and Alan Wiggins took the stage to illuminate.

Jack O’Brien

Marcia Milgrom Dodge presented the SDC Director Award for Exemplary Collaboration with Choreographers to the inimitable Jack O’ Brien whose theater history is legendary, followed by Charlotte d’Amboise and Bianca Marroquin’s brilliant song and dance to “Nowadays/Hot Honey Rag” (from Chicago where they have both made their own history).

Preliminary to Joel Grey receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award, Jackie Hoffman and Rachel Zatcoff, from Yiddish Fiddler, offered up lots of jokes and a heart-warming story about two cast members Stephanie Lynne Mason (Hodl) and Drew Seigla (Perchik) who will be getting married next week and performed “Itst Hob Ikh Di Gantse Velt” (“Now I Have Everything”).

Special Guest Bebe Neuwirth followed with “Mr. Cellophane” (Chicago).

Bebe Neuwirth
Myles Frost – Jared Grimes
Cast – for colored girls . . .

Other awards presented (by Dylis Croman and Ashley Fitzgerald) included Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show in a tie to Myles Frost (MJ the Musical) who thanked Camille A. Brown and to Jared Grimes (Funny Girl) who spoke about his coming to NYC and performing on the streets, on boards, hoping to get noticed. Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway show (presented by Desmond Richardson) went to Tendayi Kuumba (for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf). Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show (presented by Wayne Cilento) was awarded to Bill T. Jones, Garrett Coleman, Jason Oremus (Paradise Square) accepted by Gelan Lambert, Garrett Coleman and Chloe Davis.

The incomparable Ben Vereen was on hand to present the Outstanding Ensemble Award in a Broadway Show to the cast of for colored girls who have considered suicide … and choreographer Camille A. Brown.

Bianca Marroquin – Charlotte d’Amboise (“Nowadays”)
Big Hug between Dearest Friends

A special compilation video was shown giving detailed insight into the career of Joel Grey including snippets of him in 1954 on the Colgate Comedy Hour, the various iterations of his performances in Cabaret, performance on the Dean Martin Show, the Muppets, in the Grand Tour (1979) et al. And then it was time for Tony and Academy Award winner Chita Rivera to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to the mischievous Joel Grey who, when receiving the honor admitted he was “never a trained dancer” and politely acknowledged Chita as “one of my oldest but dearest friends.”

  • Joel Grey, Chita Rivera

The evening ended with dance students from Pace University, choreographed by Josh Prince, to a medley that included “Everything’s Coming Up Roses . . .” A glowing evening of talent and respect.

Show Photos: Cherylnn Tsushima

Red Carpet Photos: Melissa Griegel

Lead Photo: Melissa Griegel