"Dancing With the Stars" has its mirror-ball trophy, and the Twin Cities dance community has the Sage Awards.

This year's seventh annual ceremony took place at the recently opened Cowles Center in Minneapolis. The location was especially apropos because the awards are named in honor of Sage Cowles, a noted Twin Cities dancer who worked with Merce Cunningham.

"I'm always impressed with the dance community -- they cheer each other on," she said at a pre-party in the center's Target Education Studio. "I find that so moving."

Frank Sonntag, the center's executive director, was caught up in the excitement of the event.

"It's an intoxicating combination of graciousness, smartness and ease," he said.

Indeed, the new home of dance has inspired many, including best-performance winner Greg Waletski.

"I love the dance scene in the Twin Cities, and I feel like it's healthier than ever," he said.

Shiny buildings, fancy parties and awards aside, dance is fundamental for Cowles.

"So you're born, and you like to move," she said. "I don't remember ever wanting to do anything else. Nothing gave me as much pleasure as moving around."

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177