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Two visiting dance artists win coveted 2008 Bessies Award

Sep 18, 2010

Visiting dance faculty members Nora Chipaumire and Richard Siegal have been awarded a 2008 Annual New York Dance and Performance Award, more commonly known a ‘Bessie' Award. The 2008 Bessies, which aimed to highlight individuals for exceptional achievements during the 2007-2008 season, were presented by the Dance Theater Workshop, the Danspace Project, and The Joyce Theater, along with the 2007-2008 Bessies Committee.

A native of Zimbabwe, Chipaumire is a graduate of the University of Zimbabwe’s School of Law and holds a master of arts in dance and a master of fine arts in choreography and performance from Mills College. Chipaumire is also the recipient of numerous awards, grants and fellowships, including a Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography (MANCC) choreographic fellowship and a Mariam McGlone Emerging Choreographer Award from Wesleyan University Center for the Arts.

She was recognized in the ‘Choreographer/Creators’ category of ‘The Bessies’ for her work on Chimurenga, which was presented at Dance Theater Workshop. The piece has been hailed as both a “testament to a troubled state, and a troubled state of mind” and a masterpiece in “humanity, humor, and striking sensuality.”

Fellow visiting dance artist Richard Siegal also received an award in the visual design category during the 2008 Annual New York Dance and Performance Awards for his production design of As If Stranger. As If Stranger played at Danspace Project and was acclaimed for evoking “a dark, virtual world inhabited by a lone dancer.” Siegal shares the award with Antoine Seigneur-Guerrini, Phillip Bußman, and Norbert Pape.

Siegal has been widely recognized for his achievements in the world of dance. He was named ‘Outstanding Dancer’ by Balletanz’s Annual Critics’ Survey (1998, 2000, 2003) and was made an honorary member of the Bolshoi Ballet’s Benois de la Danse in 2004. In 2007, he was honored with the prestigious Mouson Award for his production Stranger/Stranger Report, which was shown at the Festspielhaus in Hellerau (Dresden).

He is the founder of The Bakery (2002) and danced with William Forsythe's Ballett Frankfurt from 1997 through its final season in 2004. Siegal was a guest choreographer at New York City Ballet’s Choreographic Institute during the 2007 fall season. He is on the faculty of D.A.N.C.E. and at American Dance Festival, for which he also curates an annual Forsythe Festival.

The Bessie award is named after Bennington alumna and former dance faculty member Bessie Schonberg '36.