writers on dancing


Civic Recognition

Mayor's Arts Awards
The Concert Hall
Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Washington, DC, USA
Monday, January 10, 2005

by George Jackson
copyright © 2005 by George Jackson

Dance did well at the 20th annual mayoral arts awards for "the District." Three of the eight top awards went to dance and more than half the evening's entertainment was by dancers.

The mayor of Washington, the Honorable Anthony A. Williams, had come down with a bad cold and "been tucked into bed" by his mother. It was she who stood in for him and did so imperially, outfitted in a red greatcoat. The first award, for Excellence in an Artistic Discipline, was given twice. Modern dancer Dana Tai Soon Burgess and Washington Ballet were the recipients. Mr. Burgess, wearing an elegant blue silk shirt-jacket from the Far East, and Septime Webre, artistic director of Washington Ballet, in a preppy jacket and blue jeans, contrasted in manner as well as clothing. Mr. Burgess appeared pleased yet reserved; Mr. Webre bounded onto the stage and was a node of energy.

The award for Outstanding Emerging Artist went to Nejla Y. Yatkin, modern dancer. The exotic Ms. Yatkin, who can stand in for the bust of Queen Nefertiti, was dancing in another city and so her professor husband received the honor for her.

The first performance was by four scantily clad chorus girls from the DC Caribbean Carnival Dancers. They shook strategically placed fringes and stalked on very high heels. Flamenco artist Anna Menendez followed. A tight green gown gave her torso a composure against which her arms and legs rebelled. DC Youth Ensemble combined African rhythms and military marching in a punchy manner. The Culkin Irish Dancers melded tapping and ballet into footwork that was like fine lace. The last dance number was the Balcony pas de deux from Prokofiev's "Romeo and Juliet", a MacMillanish mixture of yearning, catching, lifting and carrying; Runqiao Du and Michele Jimenez rendered Mr. Webre's choreography seamlessly. She looked a bit plump in her nightgown, yet deliciously pliant.

Highlights from the other arts included a reading to guitar accompaniment by Dolores Kendrick, DC Poet Laureate and remarks about the necessity of the arts by Leonard Slatkin, conductor of the National Symphony and recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. There was lots of pop music too, noise to my ears.

Volume 3, No. 3
January 19, 2005
Copyright ©2005 by George Jackson


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last updated on January10, 2005