"Los Angeles honors its own"

"Los Angeles honors its own"

 Victoria Looseleaf , Dance Magazine, September 2005

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Befitting the melting pot that is Los Angeles, the city celebrated an array of multicultural talent at the 14th annual Lester Horton Dance Awards.  Leading the pack was choreographer Anna Djanbazian, whose revival of her 1982 contemporary ballet, Komitas, Kroong Bnaver (Komitas, Banished but not forgotten), premiered by Djanbazian Dance Company last fall, received honors in four categories.

Named after the West Coast modern dance pioneer, the Horton Awards, which are voted on by the membership of the Dance Resource Center of Los Angeles, were presented in April at North Hollywood’s El Portal Theatre.  The three-hour ceremony featured touching speeches, archival film clips, and live performances, including tribute to the late modern dance icon Bella Lewitzky and departed tapper Leonard Reed.

Djanbazian’s evening-length opus about Armenian composer Komitas, who went mad after witnessing the 1915 Armenian genocide, garnered awards for revival, reconstruction, and staging, as well as for long form choreography.  Arsen Serobian and Narineh Gazarians snagged prizes for their performance in Komitas.

Sitting on January, performed at last year’s Celebration of Dance Festival, also netted multiple awards.  Jennifer Backhaus Mclvor  took home the short form choreography prize, with Rhonda Earick copping a costume design award Monique L’Heureux taking it for lighting design.  Jill Sanzo/Ballet of the Foothills won Horton for producing the festival.

Other awards went to Rei Aoo, Erin Dwyer, Carrie Green, and Carin Noland for small ensemble choreography, and Rev. Tom Kurai and Satori Daiko for music.  Nina Kaufman and Bradley Shimada scored for set design.  Stephanie Gilliland’s “hyperdance” troupe, Tongue, captures outstanding performance by a company.

Special category Hortons went to ballet master Stefan Wenta, composer-pianist Michael Roberts, and Los Angeles Times dance critic Lewis Segal, who spoke of the bleak fiscal times faced by both critic and artist.  Postmodern guru Rudy Perez, still active at 75 and over the moon with his lifetime achievement award, credited dance as “the thing that keeps me going,” echoing the mood of the ebullient, sold out audience.

 

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