Posted on behalf of freelance writer Caroline Palmer


Members of Sage Award-winning troupe Zenon Dance Company rehearse.

“It’s a radical choice to be a dancer,” observed Patrick Scully as he accepted the Special Citation Award at the sixth annual SAGE Awards for Dance at the Southern Theater on Tuesday night. Musing that his annual social security statements show just how little money he’s made over his career, the dancer/choreographer and founder of Patrick’s Cabaret still took time to acknowledge his good fortune. “I’ve been encouraged to live my life in my body and to have an embodied existence, which is so contrary to our culture,” he said.



Dancer and cabaret impresario Patrick Scully won a Special Citation

Becky Stanchfield, recipient of the Outstanding Educator award, added that she considers “teaching a gift,” and remains amazed that her ability still continues to evolve after some 40 years guiding the ballet technique of so many local dancers.

At this year’s event there was expressed an overall sense of gratitude for the many difficulties and rewards a life in dance offers, and not just from the winners who, as expected, each acknowledged the mentors, collaborators, students and family who contributed to their success. Special Citation Nominee Linda Shapiro stated in her opening remarks that the SAGE awards celebrate the “diversity, vitality and ornery individualism” of a dance community that continues to innovate while selection panelist Hannah Kramer said that over the course of her two years viewing work she was inspired by those who have “longevity and staying power in the dance world.”

Zenon Dance Company founder and artistic artistic director Linda Andrews echoed the sentiment about surviving and thriving as part of the Twin Cities creative landscape while accepting the award for Outstanding Performance Ensemble. “The most important thing is artistic excellence and we’re all serving dance as an art form,” she said, noting that the troupe is entering its twenty-eighth performance season. “We are part of the fabric of American dance, and it’s so wonderful.”

The most memorable moment of the evening came when the mother of Outstanding Performer awardee Brian Evans accepted on his behalf. She dutifully read his prepared remarks but also paused to add warm and witty commentary about her one-time football playing son, thanking choreographers Stuart Pimsler and Suzanne Costello for “acting as another set of parents while he learns this dance stuff.” Pimsler is also the founder of the SAGE Awards, which he coordinates with Dana Kassel.

Other award recipients: Francis Kofi/Hayor Bibimma, Uri Sands and Ranee Ramaswamy/Aparna Ramaswamy for Outstanding Performance; Paul Herwig and Deborah Jinza Thayer for Outstanding Design; and Penelope Freeh and Rachel Barnes for Outstanding Performer. Each received an award specially designed by visual artist Amy Rice (a colorfully painted image of event namesake, the dancer and philanthropist Sage Cowles). The evening also featured house band 6th and Vine as well as works from past SAGE Award recipients Vanessa Voskuil, Jane Shockley and Wild Goose Chase Cloggers & DeLaSoulja Steppers with RDM.



Choreographer and dancer Uri Sands, second from left.

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