2006 Dance Magazine Awards

The 2006 Dance Magazine Awards were held at Florence Gould Hall on Monday, and despite the rainy, blustery night, many in the crowd insisted on wearing strappy sandals, which leads me to...ick. Why don't women realize that it's just more elegant to dress for the weather? But perhaps the point to be made is that the ceremony was an occasion.

Preannounced winners included Eiko and Koma, who performed an excerpt of 2004's Duet (the charming Japanese couple was introduced by Charles Reinhart), and Joan Myers Brown, the director of Philadanco. For the occasion, her Philadelphia-based repertory company performed Ronald K. Brown's moving For Mother. Carmen de Lavallade, who remains the best-looking woman on earth, introduced Brown. Suki Schorer read text by Jacques d'Amboise in honor of the late Todd Bolender, whose award was accepted by William Whitener, the artistic director of Kansas City Ballet; and Natalia Makarova, presenting an award to ballet teacher David Howard, nearly stole the show with her Russian charm.

Still, the star of the show was Gelsey Kirkland, greeted by cheers and introduced by Kevin McKenzie, American Ballet Theatre's artistic director who described her as a "legend hard-earned." A glorious dancer perhaps best remembered for her battles with drugs and anorexia as well as her juicy autobiography, Dancing on My Grave, Kirkland thanked the teachers and friends who stood by her when she was "less than the most desirable act in town." This spring, Kirkland will assist McKenzie on ABT's production of Sleeping Beauty; during the ceremony she frequently broke down in tears, but ended her poignant speech on a optimistic note: "I hope to help with the future harvest." She was referring to dancers, of course, and with that, the prodigal daughter has returned to her ABT home.