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Kennedy Center Honors


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It's December again, and I turned to the Kennedy Center website with hope (but not too much expectation) that a dancer might be one of the honorees. No luck. Then I thought to myself: if I had the power or privilege, which dancer, choreographer, teacher or any other talent connected with the ballet world would I nominate to receive this honor? Since I am a only a fan and do not have the education or insight to come up with names, I'd like to ask the membership of balletalert. Who would be your choice to receive this honor this year? Try not to come up with a name who has already been chosen.

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I am by far an expert myself - and am not sure I navigated the Kennedy Center website accurately, therefore I hope I don't propose someone who has already been honoured. My thoughts (not necessarily ballet):

* Gregory Hines (posthumous)

* Mark Morris

* Savion Glover

* Ethan Stiefel

* Patricia Barker

* Melissa Hayden (posthumous)

* Lauren Anderson

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Nora's post made me realize that my memory of past Kennedy Center honorees was pretty spotty. So I looked up the list.

From the KC website, here are the dancers who have received the award. All seem to have been honored late in their careers and certainly after their serious dancing was beyond them. This would mean that Stiefel and Morris will have to wait a while. Also, don't seem to be any posthumous awards, unless I'm missing someone.

The choices, which cover several different kinds of dancing, seem pretty darn good, when you consider them as a whole. The accumulated genius is mind-boggling.

1978 Fred Astaire, George Balanchine

1979 Martha Graham

1980 Agnes de Mille

1981 Jerome Robbins

1982 Gene Kelly

1983 Katherin Dunham

1985 Merce Cunningham

1986 Antony Tudor

1987 Alwin Nikolais

1988 Alvin Ailey

1989 Alexandra Danilova

1991 Fayard Nicholas, Harold Nicholas

1992 Paul Taylor

1993 Arthur Mitchell

1995 Jacques d'Amboise

1996 Maria Tallchief

1997 Edward Villella

1999 Judith Jamison

2000 Mikhail Baryshnikov

2002 Chita Rivera

2005 Suzanne Farrell

How about Natalia Makarova, Frederick Franklin or Lupe Serrano? Or the team of Francia Russell and Kent Stowell? Or Helgi Tomasson? If posthumous awards are possible, how about Fernando Bujones?

If they are looking for a new direction, surely there are some great teachers -- teachers who have had a broad impact on dance around the country-- who might qualifty? Or if they are willing to go for critics -- how about Clive Barnes?

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I'm afraid Leon Fleisher gets the token nod to classical arts this year.

With all due respect to Kent Stowell, I think that Francia Russell would deserves the award had she not co-directed PNB: although her performing career was short, she is a key stager of the Balanchine repertoire around the world, and she was responsible for the PNB School, whose Professional Division is developing an amazing crop of dancers. Of course, many in the audience would just say, "Who?" (On the other hand, many in the audience would say the same about Fleisher.)

If they can give the award to Joan Sutherland, surely they can give it to Frederic Franklin.

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