By Jennifer Stahl
21 September 2020
Since 1954, Dance Magazine has celebrated the living legends among us with the Dance Magazine Awards. This year, in light of deep reflections on racial equity inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, the selection committee decided to take a close look at exactly who the magazine has honored over the past seven decades. Unsurprisingly, the list is overwhelmingly white. Although it’s grown more diverse in recent years, many brilliant artists of color have been left out for far too long.
So for 2020, in order to reckon with and take a step toward repairing that history, the committee chose an outstanding group of all-Black artists. I’m delighted to announce our incredible honorees for 2020:
In addition to dancing with some of the world’s most prestigious companies, including The Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Houston Ballet, Carlos Acosta has choreographed productions of Don Quixote and Carmen, plus Guys and Dolls for the West End. Acosta established his own dance company, Acosta Danza, in 2016 in his native Cuba, and opened a dance academy there through the Carlos Acosta International Dance Foundation a year later. He also became artistic director of Birmingham Royal Ballet in January 2020, and currently leads both organizations on either side of the Atlantic.
An internationally recognized director, choreographer, teacher, dancer and actor, Debbie Allen first made her mark on Broadway in revivals like West Side Story, for which she was nominated for a Tony. She became a household name with the movie-turned-television-classic “Fame,” and has since directed and produced several TV series including “A Different World,” “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and “Scandal.” Allen has been artist in residence at the Kennedy Center for over 15 years. She founded the Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles, mentoring and inspiring hundreds of students. She is currently an executive producer, director and actress on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy.”
Camille A. Brown
Camille A. Brown‘s prolific choreography merges her modern dance foundation with elements of African, social dance and musical theater to highlight deeply personal and complex Black experiences. In addition to being artistic director of Camille A. Brown & Dancers, she has been commissioned by companies like Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Urban Bush Women, Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Ballet Memphis. Her Broadway choreography credits include Choir Boy (for which she was nominated for a Tony) and Once On This Island. She also choreographed Jesus Christ Superstar Live
in Concert on NBC, as well as The Metropolitan Opera’s Porgy and Bess. Netflix’s soon-to-be-released Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, directed by George C. Wolfe, will mark her feature film debut.
See the full list of honorees here.