Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Izzies 1: Honoring Local Dance

Most arts awards ceremonies are expensive, ponderous affairs, filled with dreary speeches, and costing nominees and friends lots of money to attend. A major exception to that rule is the annual Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, known as The Izzies, which are short, free, and open to the public.

On Tuesday evening, the 24th annual version of the Izzies were presented in the basement of the San Fracisco Public Library's Koret Auditorium, honoring dancers, choroeographers, designers, composers and musicians who have contributed to the Bay Area dance scene. A few of the awards were for "sustained achievement" by a group, such as the woman above receiving an Izzie for Berkeley's Ashkenaz Music & Dance Community Center for its 35 years of world music and dance.

There were also a few special awards, such as the one to Dohee Lee (above), the "dancer/musician/vocalist" who seems to work with every interesting performance group in the Bay Area. She was a guest performer at the "Music for 16 Futurist Noise Intoners" last October at Yerba Buena Center, and just about stole the entire show.

Also receiving a specal nod was Jo Kreiter (above) who recently created a dance about female bridge builders at SOMArts that created a sensation.

The program also featured Academy Awards style competition among five nominees in various categories, with the winners leaping onto the stage for short thank you speeches. In the "Outstanding Achievement in Individual Performance" during the the period between September 1, 2008 and August 31, 2009, Ramon Moreno Acanda (above) from Ballet San Jose tied for the award with Laura Elaine Ellis (below) from Dimensions Dance Theatre.

For a full listing of winners, you can click here to get to The Izzies website.

The legendary local choreographer Carlos Carvajal (above) gave out the final award for Outstanding Achievement in Choreography. Carvajal has been the co-artistic director of the SF Ethnic Dance Festival for the last four years, and the maturation of that group was reflected by the seven nominations it received this year against heavyweights like the San Francisco Ballet.

The auditions for the Ethnic Dance Festival at the Palace of Fine Arts are continuing this weekend and next, and the public is invited to the all-day affairs for $10 with in-and-out privileges. For more information, click here.

Carlos prefaced the naming of the choreography winner with, "Well, this is a surprise," as he announced that Scott Wells' contact improvisation piece, "What Men Want," had snagged the award. The dancer/choreographer arrived at the podium with babe in arms, who looked perfectly content to be in the spotlight.

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