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One of my favorite times of the year is when the entire DC dance community comes together to recognize and support each other’s efforts at the Metro DC Dance Awards. This year’s ceremony, held at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts’ Terrace Theater, was one of the most entertaining yet. We were all treated to a rare visit by “Martha Graham,” actually the NY-based female impersonator Richard Move, who, as the evening’s emcee, was able to channel Graham in a way that was both realistic and endearing.
Move’s devotion to Graham is apparent and his life’s work of imitation and total immersion has become an art form in and of itself. There were dance performances galore – scattered throughout the evening – beginning on the Millennium Stage at 6pm where the youth awards were given out, to the main event in the Terrace: Furia Flamenca, Joy of Motion Youth Dance Ensemble, ARKA Ballet, and Maryland Youth Ballet, were just a handful of the city’s brightest lights, from the local dance scene, to perform.
There was something for everyone – ballet, modern dance, flamenco, and even the dancing DC Cowboys!! I was overjoyed to see so many of my friends in one place and many of them winning awards: Septime Webre and the Washington Ballet for last season’s beautifully conceived, Celtic-inspired evening of ballet in the Eisenhower – Highland Fling (I went twice), Gesel Mason receiving the Pola Nirenska Award, my new friends Delphina Parenti and Jason Ignacio both receiving the award for Outstanding Individual Performance, Helen Hayes winning for Outstanding Achievement in Dance Education, and Brooke Kidd receiving the Kriegsman Award!
The climax of the evening’s honors was the acceptance speech given by the internationally-renowned, Washington-trained prima ballerina and magazine editor Virginia Johnson, for her lifetime achievement in dance. In accepting the Pola Nirenska Award, she stressed the importance of talking about dance to people who are not involved in the field, about engaging those that may otherwise not have access to the arts. A high point for me was having an opportunity to photograph Virginia with her first ballet teacher, 91 year-old Therrell Smith, who attended last night’s ceremony.
After the tightly produced show we all went over to the Watergate’s 600 Restaurant to mingle the night away! Over 700 photos will soon be available for purchase and download.
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