The 2018 Martha Hill Awards
On Monday November 19th at 6pm, the Martha Hill Awards Gala was once again held at the Manhattan Penthouse in New York City. This year the Lifetime Achievement Award recipient was Sylvia Waters ; and the 2018 Mid-Career Award recipients were Jessica Lange and David Leventhal.
Since Ailey II’s inception over 40 years ago, Artistic Director Emerita Sylvia Waters has been responsible for the growth and expansion of one of the country's most vibrant young dance companies.Her commitment to dance began when the art form was introduced in her junior high school curriculum. She continued her studies at the New Dance Group on scholarship, whose illustrious faculty included Alvin Ailey. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Dance at The Juilliard School, where she studied with Antony Tudor, Martha Graham, Alfredo Corvino, and Mary Hinkson. While at Juilliard, she danced with companies of Hava Kohav and Donald McKayle. With McKayle, she appeared in the CBS television production of “They Called Her Moses.”Ms. Waters toured in the European company of Black Nativity and while living in Paris, she worked with Michel Descombey, then director of the Paris Opera Ballet, as well as Milko Sparembleck. She also performed in Donald McKayle's European production of Black New World and worked with Maurice Béjart’s company performing in Brussels and at the Summer Olympics in Mexico City.Upon returning to the United States in 1968, Ms. Waters joined the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. In 1975, Mr. Ailey personally chose her to become Artistic Director of Ailey II until stepping down in 2012.Ms. Waters is the recipient of many awards and honors including honorary doctorates from the State University of New York at Oswego and The Juilliard School. She is the recipient of a “Bessie” Award, the Legacy Award as part of the 20th Annual IABD Festival, Syracuse University’s Women of Distinction Award, and the prestigious Dance Magazine Award. Ms. Waters has served on a number of panels including the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Department of Cultural Affairs, and the Princess Grace Awards. She also
served on the panel of the Seoul International Dance Competition for three years in Seoul Korea. In the spring of 2010, she was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University. Currently, she leads The Ailey Legacy Residency, a lecture, technique, and repertory program for college-level students that looks definitively into the history and creative heritage of Alvin Ailey. Ms. Waters is a consultant to the Ailey Archives and is interviewing former Ailey personnel –dancers and choreographers—for an oral history project.
Jessica Lang is Artistic Director of Jessica Lang Dance. Lang leads the creative vision of the organization which has garnered remarkable acclaim since the company’s founding in 2011. Under her artistic leadership, the company now offers more than 50 performances annually at some of the world’s most prestigious performing arts centers. Noted for her dedication to educational activities, Lang developed a unique curriculum for JLD called LANGuage, which is offered as part of the company’s programming on tour and locally in New York City, focusing on the Queens community. As one of the most celebrated choreographers of her generation, Lang choreographs and teaches throughout the world. She has created original works for companies including American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, the National Ballet of Japan, and Joffrey, among many others. Lang has also worked in opera on the production Aida, directed by Francesca Zambello, for San Francisco Opera and Washington National Opera. She is the recipient of a 2014 Bessie Award and the 2017 Arison Award. Lang grew up in Bucks County, PA and has a diverse dance training background. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy and a former member of Twyla Tharp's company THARP!
David Leventhal is a founding teacher and Program Director for Dance for PD®, a program of the Mark Morris Dance Group that has now been used as a model for classes in more than 250 communities in 25 countries.He leads classes for people with Parkinson's disease around the world and trains other teachers in the Dance for PD® approach around the world. He's co-produced three volumes of a successful At Home DVD series for the program and has been instrumental in initiating and designing innovative projects involving live streaming and Moving Through Glass, a dance-based Google Glass App for people with Parkinson's. He received the 2016 World Parkinson Congress Award for Distinguished Contribution to the Parkinson's Community and was a co-recipient of the 2013 Alan Bonander Humanitarian Award from the Parkinson's Unity Walk. Leventhal has written about dance and Parkinson's for such publications as Dance Gazette and Room 217, and has chapters in Moving Ideas: Multimodal Learning in Communities and Schools (Peter Lang), and Creating Dance: A Traveler's Guide (Hampton Press). He is in demand as a speaker at international conferences and symposiums, and has spoken about the intersection of dance, Parkinson's and health at the Lincoln Center Global Exchange, Edinburgh International Culture Summit, University of Michigan, Rutgers, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, Brown, Stanford, Columbia, Georgetown, Tufts, and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Liège (Belgium), among others. He serves on the boards of the Davis Phinney Foundation and the Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center's Arts and Humanities Program. Leventhal designed and currently teaches a pioneering dance-based elective course that is part of the Narrative Medicine curriculum at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. He's featured in the award-winning 2014 documentary Capturing Grace directed by Dave Iverson. As a dancer, he performed with the Mark Morris Dance Group (MMDG) from 1997-2011, appearing in principal roles in Mark Morris' The Hard Nut, L'Allegro, il Penseroso ed il Moderato, and Prokofiev's Romeo & Juliet, on Motifs of Shakespeare. Leventhal received a 2010 Bessie (New York Dance and Performance Award) for sustained achievement. Prior to joining MMDG, he worked with Zvi Gotheiner, Ben Munisteri, Neta Pulvermacher, Seán Curran, Marcus Schulkind, Richard Colton and Amy Spencer, and José Mateo's Ballet Theatre of Boston. He graduated from Brown University magna cum laude with honors in English Literature.
Sylvia Waters, Jessica Lang and David Leventhal
Vernon Scott, Sylvia Waters and Robert Battle
The 2018 MHDF Board
Top Row: Ani Udovicki, Lance Westergard, Henning Rubsam, Elizabeth McPherson, Allen Maniker, Vernon Scott
Bottom Row: Rebecca Stenn, Yasuko Tokunaga, Megan Williams, Ernesta Corvino, Andra Corvino
Gala Photos by Steven Speliotis and Reiko Yanagi