Isadora Duncan was clear about her life motto: "Sans limites!" The jury for The Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, or "Izzies" seek the same ideal: Artists who aren't afraid to get all kinds of illimitable.
In the 28th annual event last night, the relatively small committee of volunteers showed a massive amount of respect and support for the entire Bay Area dance world. The Izzies honor the very best in artistic fields such as choreography, performance, and design.
And these aren't a bunch of bitchy ballerinas. Almost every acceptance speech expressed thanks to the dance community with a surprising amount of openness; from a heartfelt thanks from LGBT champion, Sean Dorsey, for his show, The Secret History of Love, to the evening's charming host and ODC Theater Director, Rob Bailis, who kept the evening earnest while still fun.
However, nothing really makes you yearn for an open bar quite like sitting through two hours of dancers attempting to give speeches like they are even remotely comfortable with public speaking. Obviously, people this talented get a pass; their gifts lay elsewhere. Awkwardness even proved to be an endearing icebreaker for many of the winners -- as demonstrated by the nervous, but darling, Katherine Wells, who, along with her partner Brandon Freeman, beat out crowd favorites Lonnie Weeks and Luke Willis from San Francisco Ballet in the Outstanding Ensemble category. Anyway, it also Duncan who said, "If I could tell you what I meant, there would be no point in dancing it."
Aside from a few brief technical hiccups the evening moved swiftly thanks to a finely curated group of performances scattered throughout the evening. The featured acts included a solo for the loud and proud Hungarian folk dancer, Laszlo Tihanyi, and a short, more experimental work by the disarmingly quirky Daiane Lopez de Silva, among many others.
But, nothing was quite as charming as the evenings finale. Chinatown's Grant Avenue Follies brought a dozen of their finest showgirls. They dressed like Liza Minnelli and danced like they had never had so much fun. Basically, they were perfect.
The big winner of the night was Alonzo King LINES Ballet. With three awards, including a prestigious Sustained Achievement Award, they stole the evening with a completely bonkers performance by (seemingly boneless) company dancer, Babatunji Johnson. LINES shared their award in the Visual Design category with San Francisco Ballet, whose version of Cinderella was exactly as sparkly and over-the-top as the fairy tale should be.
So, the final results?
Outstanding Achievement in Music/Text:
Edgar Meyer's music in Collaboration with Edgar Meyer by Alonzo King LINES Ballet.
Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design:
Jim Campbell's set design for Constellation by Alonzo King LINES Ballet.
Basil Twist's set design for Cinderella by San Francisco Ballet.
Outstanding Achievement in Performance, Company:
Flyaway Productions in Niagara Falling.
Outstanding Achievement in Performance, Ensemble:
Brandon Freeman and Katherine Wells in The Devil Ties My Tongue for Amy Seiwart's Imagery.
Outstanding Achievement in Performance, Individual:
Francis Chung for her 2013 season with San Francisco Ballet.
Outstanding Achievement in Restaging/Revival/Reconstruction:
Gary Masters and Raphael Boumaila for the restaging of the Moor's Pavane by Jose Limon for sjDANCEco and Diablo Ballet.
Outstanding Achievement in Choreography:
Jo Kreiter's Niagara Falling for Flyaway Productions
Special Achievement Awards:
de Young Museum for the exhibition of Rudolph Nureyev: A Life and Dance.
Anna Halprin, Morton Subotnick and the Berkeley Art Museum for Parades and Changes.
Sean Dorsey Dance for The Secret History of Love.
Sustained Achievement Awards:
Janice Ross for her twenty years as a dance writer, critic, and historian.
Judith Smith for her role as Artistic Director and Founding Member of Axis Dance Company.
Alonzo King LINES Ballet for over 30 years of innovative, contemporary ballet.