The New York Dance and Performance Awards, also known as the Bessie Awards are awarded annually for exceptional achievement by independent dance artists presenting their work in New York City. The broad categories of the awards are: choreography, performance, music composition and visual design. The Bessie Awards were established in 1983.
The Bessie Awards were established in 1983 by Dance Theater Workshop and named in honor of Bessie Schonberg, an influential mid-20th-century teacher of modern dance and former head of the dance department at Sarah Lawrence College. The awards honor exceptional choreography, performance, music composition and visual design in dance and allied art forms. Nominees and award winners are chosen by the Bessie Selection Committee, which consists of dancers, dance presenters, producers, choreographers, journalists, critics and academics.
Since 2010, the awards have been overseen by an independent steering committee in partnership with Dance/NYC and administered by Lucy Sexton. In their current iteration, the awards encompass a broader range of dance genres and supporting art forms than in the past, and offer an annual commission to an emerging artist.
Over 400 Bessie Awards have been presented since their founding. Notable recipients include:
An archive of past recipients is available at the Bessies web site.