At the fifth annual Lester Horton Dance Awards, presented Thursday night at the Water Court at California Plaza, it was the maverick side of Los Angeles dance that was the big winner. Aggressive individuality and experimentation showed much more strongly than in previous years, putting many newcomers into the winners' circle.
The showcase categories--choreography and performance--honored deeply personal works, dramatic dancing and creative risk. Five choreographers--Janis Brenner, Tina Gerstler, Danielle Shapiro, Shel Wagner and Scott Wells--won for their collaborative work for Pacific Dance Ensemble, "Tom's Renaissance," a tough-minded look at alcoholism.
Michael Mizerany's emotional dancing in "Tin Soldier" won best individual performance, and Diavolo Dance Theatre's gymnastic daring in Jacques Heim's "Te^te en L'Air" took the ensemble performance award. Gemma Sandoval's anything but traditional collage of Mexican myth and folklore, "Epopeya Mestiza," took the award for staging traditional dance.
Named after the Los Angeles-based modern dance pioneer who died in 1953, the Horton Awards honor all movement-based art produced by or for, or performed by a Greater Los Angeles-area company or individual during the 1995 calendar year.
Winners were selected from candidates nominated by the membership of the Dance Resource Center of Greater Los Angeles, whose members include most of the area's concert dancers, choreographers, teachers and related professionals. The list of nominees was then narrowed down by a committee of dance experts. The final list was voted on by the center's members. Serena Tripi, president of the center's board, presided over the awards ceremony.
Choreography: Janis Brenner, Tina Gerstler, Danielle Shapiro, Shel Wagner and Scott Wells for "Tom's Renaissance" (Pacific Dance Ensemble).
Performance/Individual: Michael Mizerany in his "Tin Soldier."
Performance/Company: Diavolo Dance Theatre in Jacques Heim's "Te^te en l'Air."
Staging Traditional Dance: Gema Sandoval for "Epopeya Mestiza," (Danza Floricanto/USA).
Restaging, Revival or Reconstruction: Bella Lewitzky for "Spaces Between," (Lewitzky Dance Company).
Visual Design: Eileen Cooley (lighting) for "Thunder Is Not Yet Rain" (Winifred R. Harris' Between Lines); Laura Brody (costumes) for Diavolo Dance Theatre; Roger Webb (set) for "Te^te en l'Air."
Music: Steve Moshier for program by Hae Kyung Lee and Dancers.
Teaching: Don Bondi, L.A. County High School for the Arts.
Sustained Achievement: artistic director Michael Alexander, California Plaza.
Special Award: executive director Dr. Clifford Harper, Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State Los Angeles.
Board of Directors Awards: dance producer Neil Barclay; the national service/advocacy organization Dance/USA; impresario James A. Doolittle.