Hip-hop dance group Obtuse Crew has yet to win a deserved blue ribbon for its cheeky name. But the energetic b-boys 'n' girls did nab outstanding-ensemble honors at Wednesday night's Sage Awards.

Held for the second year at Cowles Center, the Sage event is the local dance community's yearly celebration of its top work, as judged by a panel of peers. Hosted by Cassandra Shores, her royal highness of Middle Eastern and belly dance, the event featured performances by Alanna Morris, one of last year's honorees, and others.

Dancers Katie Johnson, Andrew Lester and Eva Mohn all earned outstanding-performer nods for their collective work throughout the year. There were three winners for outstanding performance, recognizing a single work: Shapiro and Smith Dance for "Celebrating Our 25th Year," Uri Sands for "January (Part 1 and 2)" and Wynn Fricke for Zenon's "Wine Dark Sea."

For behind-the-scenes excellence, Peter O'Gorman garnered an outstanding-design award for his music for "Wine Dark Sea," as did Mike Grogan for his lighting of several performances.

Morris Johnson of the University of Minnesota's Department of Theatre Arts & Dance was named best dance educator. Lirena Branitski, school principal for the Minnesota Dance Theatre & the Dance Institute and a former Bolshoi Ballet member, received a special citation.

The awards, now in their eighth year, are named for Sage Cowles, the prominent Twin Cities dance patron, choreographer and dancer.

Kristin Tillotson • 612-673-704