DSC00561 Judith Jamison

Judith Jamison





by Marilyn Lester



This gala event celebrating outstanding dance and choreography on stage and in film was a veritable love-fest; anyone not familiar with the New York dance community would have observed a group of performers who not only displayed delight in their craft but a profound camaraderie which included genuine happiness for the “competition.” Thus, the 34th annual Fred and Adele Astaire Awards proved an uplifting and cheering evening of celebration for those who create, execute and just plain love dance. It was also heartwarming to hear many presenters and recipients give homage to their mentors, teachers and to those upon whose shoulders they stand. Yes, these dancers are a wise and generous group of artists.


The event is also one that’s smartly produced: long on entertainment and short on speechifying. The result is a perfectly paced two hours that lands on its mark without boredom or overtime. At the top of the evening, a special award was presented to Dr. Joan Fallon for special achievement in the field of autism and related disorders, reflecting the mission of The Douglas Watt Family Fund for the Performing Arts, the charitable fund of The Fred and Adele Astaire Awards. This is a public school-based program of dance and movement therapy for children with autism and other developmental disabilities. Then it was down to dance, with an acknowledgement of the 2016 season as a banner year: there were more nominees per category than in years past, plus a new category was added to the roster of awards: Off Broadway, recognizing outstanding dancing and choreography.


Special awards were presented to three legends in the field of dance. Judith Jamison, Artistic Director Emerita of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, was awarded the Douglas Watt Lifetime Achievement Award. Dancer, choreographer and producer Nigel Lythgoe received the Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Field of Dance, and Maurice Hines, who lately appeared Off-Broadway in his show Tappin’ Through Life, was bestowed with a special recognition award for Outstanding Body of Work in Dance.


Entertainment for the awards show included the production number “Tradición” from Broadway’s On Your Feet, Fred Astaire Dance Studio dancers in “Let’s Face the Music and Dance,” tapping brothers Leo and John Manzari (protégés of Maurice Hines) in “A Humble Tribute,” and an excerpt from Alvin Ailey’s “Cry,” among others.


Nominees and winners (in bold) of the 34th annual Fred and Adele Astaire Awards are:


Mara Davi, Dames at Sea

Deanna Doyle, Tuck Everlasting

Sandra Mae Frank, Spring Awakening

Jane Krakowski, She Loves Me

Eloise Kropp, Dames at Sea

Ana Villafañe, On Your Feet

Adrienne Warren, Shuffle Along



Phillip Attmore, Shuffle Along

Alex Brightman, School of Rock

Daveed Diggs, Hamilton

Carlos Gonzalez, On Your Feet

Curtis Holland, Shuffle Along

Kendrick Jones, Shuffle Along

Luis Salgado, On Your Feet



(Three-way tie)

Andy Blankenbuehler, Hamilton

Warren Carlyle, She Loves Me

Savion Glover, Shuffle Along

Lorin Latarro, Waitress

Spencer Liff, Spring Awakening

Casey Nicholaw, Tuck Everlasting

Sergio Trujillo, On Your Feet

Josh Rhodes, Bright Star

Hofesh Shechter, Fiddler on the Roof

Randy Skinner, Dames at Sea



Bright Star

Dames at Sea

Fiddler on the Roof


On Your Feet

School of Rock

She Loves Me

Shuffle Along

Spring Awakening



Luke Broadlick, Teresa Espinosa, Alison Faulk & Channing Tatum, Magic Mike XXL

Christopher Gattelli, Hail, Caesar!

Aakomon Jones, Pitch Perfect 2

Joey Pizzi, Lucky Stiff

Fatima Robinson & Charm Jordan, Dance Camp

Dave Scott, High Strung



Yesenia Ayala, Trip Of Love

Leslie Kritzer, The Robber Bridegroom

Rumi Oyama, Sayonara

Jaime Lynn Verazin, Standard Time

Ellen Zolezzi, Cagney



Jeremy Benton, Cagney

Dave Thomas Brown, The Legend Of Georgia McBride

Robert Creighton, Cagney

Cory Lingner, Once Upon A Mattress

Matt McGrath, The Legend Of Georgia McBride



(Two-way tie)

Joshua Bergasse, Cagney

Martha Clarke, Angel Reapers

Connor Gallagher, The Robber Bridegroom

Paul McGill, The Legend Of Georgia McBride

James Ortiz, Claire Karpen & Will Gallacher, The Woodsman

Sergio Trujillo & Darrell Grand Moultrie, Invisible Thread



The 34th annual Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, May 16th, 2016. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place, Greenwich Village), 212-992-8484, www.skirballcenter.nyu.edu, www.theastaireawards.org



Photos: Maryann Lopinto