The 2024 Martha Hill Awards Gala
On Monday, February 26, 2024, 6pm
The Manhattan Penthouse
80 Fifth Avenue
New York City
we will honor Joan Myers Brown and Jim May with
The Lifetime Achievement Award
Ronald K. Brown and Jacqulyn Buglisi with
The Mid-Career Award
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14 Little Fox Lane
Norwalk CT 06850
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Our Gala features an Open Bar and a Three Course Meal
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The 2024 Awardees
Joan Myers Brown is the founder of The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts. She serves as honorary chairperson for the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), an organization she established in 1991. She also founded the International Conference of Black Dance Companies in 1988. She is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which bestowed upon her an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts; is a member of the dance faculty at Howard University in Washington, DC; and has been awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA. Listed in Who's Who in America and described as an "innovator and communicator," Ms. Brown has made significant contributions to the national and international arts communities.
Regionally and nationally, Ms. Brown has served a broad range of organizations, including the New England Foundation for the Arts' National Dance Project; the United States Information Agency; Arts America; the National Endowment for the Arts; the state arts councils of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio; and the National Forum for Female Executives. Locally, she has been a part of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance; the Minority Arts Resource Council, Inc.; the Philadelphia Mayor's Cultural Advisory Council; the Philadelphia Dance Alliance; the Women's Heritage Society; and Dance/USA. Ms. Brown was appointed to the choreographer's panel of the Rockefeller Foundation Arts & Humanities Program, and served as vice president (and co-founder) of the Coalition of African American Cultural Organizations.
In 1997, Ms. Brown was honored as one of the "Dance Women: Living Legends" during a four-day series sponsored by New York-area presenters, in tribute to five African-American pioneer women who founded distinguished modern dance companies with deep roots in black communities around the country. In 2005, the Kennedy Center honored her as a Master of African American Choreography. In 2009 she received the prestigious Philadelphia Award, and November 7, 2010 was declared Joan Myers Brown Living Legacy Day. Ms. Brown was chosen as one of the 2013 Dance/USA honorees "for her extraordinary artistic guidance, her nurturance of many dancers and choreographers, visionary leadership, and grace under fire in the dance field."
She has also received a host of other accolades throughout her lifetime, including awards from The Philadelphia Tribune and the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and membership to the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania in 2012. She was designated as one of The Ten Best Philadelphians by Philadelphia magazine in 2012, in addition to recognition as an Outstanding Alumni of West Philadelphia High School, her alma mater. Her legacy has been documented in the 2011 publication of Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance (Palgrave), written by dance scholar and critic Brenda Dixon Gottschild, author of several books on dance.
Joan Myers Brown's undisputed status as a leader in the national and international arts communities was acknowledged when she was selected to receive the 2012 National Medal of the Arts, the nation's highest civic honor for excellence in the arts. President Barack Obama presented the prestigious honor at a ceremony that took place in July 2013 at the White House. President Obama cited Ms. Brown for carving out "an artistic haven for African American dancers and choreographers to innovate, create, and share their unique visions with the national and global dance communities."
Jim May was a devoted disciple of Anna Sokolow for 35 years and co-artistic director of her dance company, Players’ Project, since 1990. His aim as founder of the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble was to expand the art of dance to include the other arts (music, theater, painting, literature), working toward a progressive new style of theater/dance.
Mr. May was a dancer on the New York scene for over 40 years, having danced with the Limón Company under José Limón’s direction and as a soloist under Carla Maxwell’s direction. Other companies include those of Ruth Currier, Eliot Feld, Kathryn Posin, Kazuko Hirabayashi (soloist) and Daniel Lewis (principal). In addition he danced with all three of the original DTW founders; Jeff Duncan, Jack Moore and Arthur Bauman. He has danced on Broadway and as a guest artist, he has performed works by Donald McKayle, Don Redlich, Murray Louis, Pauline Koner, and Kurt Jooss.
Mr. May has taught on the faculties of SUNY Purchase, Juilliard School of Music, and Princeton University, and was on the faculty of the Limón Institute for many years. In 1992 he received the Marcus Award for Teaching Excellence from Washington University. He taught extensively in Taiwan, where he founded the company Dance Forum Taipei, and in Mexico at Central de Investigacion Corografica. He has taught at many Universities and schools in the United States, Europe, and South America; he was granted a Fulbright award to teach in Chile. His choreography has been in the repertories of Dance Conduit, Dance Forum Taipei, Thoughts in Motion, and the Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble.
Mr. May embraced the distinct dance styles of both Ms. Sokolow and Mr. Limón. He won a 1996 Fulbright Scholarship to Mexico City to extend his studies of his two mentors and their roles in the “across the border” relationship between modern dance in the US and Mexico.
Mr. May received the 1999 Bessie Award for lifetime achievement, “for a sustained achievement over decades as dance’s premiere leading man, an actor-dancer of extraordinary range and scope of character, in the living theater of Anna Sokolow.”
Mr. May's presenter will be Daniel Lewis.
Ronald K. Brown, raised in Brooklyn, NY, founded EVIDENCE, A Dance Company in 1985. He has worked with Mary Anthony Dance Theater, Jennifer Muller/The Works, as well as other choreographers and artists. Brown has set works on Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Ailey II, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Jennifer Muller/The Works, Jeune Ballet d’Afrique Noire, Ko-Thi Dance Company, Philadanco, Muntu Dance Theater of Chicago, Ballet Hispánico, TU Dance, and Malpaso Dance Company.
Mr. Brown has collaborated with such artists as composer/designer Omotayo Wunmi Olaiya, the late writer Craig G. Harris, director Ernie McClintock’s Jazz Actors Theater, choreographers Patricia Hoffbauer and Rokiya Kone, and composers Jason Moran, Arturo O'Farrill, Meshell Ndegeocello, Robert Een, Oliver Lake, Bernadette Speech, David Simons,, and Don Meissner
Mr. Brown is the recipient of the 2020 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award. His other awards and recognitions include theAUDELCO Award for his choreography in Regina Taylor’s award-winning play Crowns, received two Black Theater Alliance Awards, and a Fred & Adele Astaire Award for Outstanding Choreography in the Tony Award winning Broadway and national touring production of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, adapted by Suzan Lori Parks, arrangement by Diedre Murray and directed by Diane Paulus.
Mr. Brown was named Def Dance Jam Workshop 2000 Mentor of the Year and has received; the Doris Duke Artist Award, NYC City Center Fellowship, Scripps/ADF Award, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Choreographers Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, United States Artists Fellowship, a New York Dance and Performance “Bessie” Award, Dance Magazine Award, and The Ailey Apex Award.
Mr. Brown is Co-Artistic Director of RestorationART Youth Arts Academy Pre-Professional Training Program / Restoration Dance Youth Ensemble, and a member of Stage Directors & Choreographers Society.
Mr. Brown's presenter will be Arcell Cabuag.
In her five decade career, Jacqulyn Buglisi has made an indelible impact on the field of dance. Renowned for highly visual, imagistic dances that use literature, history and heroic archetypes as a primary source, Buglisi’s ballets are sweeping, passionate and always rooted in a strong physical technique. She is a prolific choreographer creating more than 100 ballets for Buglisi Dance Theatre and commissioned worldwide including Suspended Women on the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (premiere: 12/12/14 at New York City Center); Ninfee for the Richmond Ballet; her full-length The Four Elements for the Flamenco Festival presented in Madrid, Sadler’s Wells, London and New York’s City Center; Ananda Shankar Performing Arts Company, India; the Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble, China; the Martha Graham Dance Company, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Teatro Danza Contemporanea di Roma for which she was a co-founder in 1969; American Repertory Ballet; Ailey II; and Ice Theatre of New York.
Her “bewilderingly beautiful” ballet Threshold had its Italian premiere in Milan with Carla Fracci's Italian Ballet Company at the Teatro Nuovo and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Opera House. Ms. Buglisi, with Foreman, premiered their full-length ballet Runes of the Heart at Lincoln Center in 1994, followed by invitations to the Kennedy Center, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and The Joyce Theater where Buglisi Dance Theatre performs its NYC seasons. In 2001, she created Requiem to the soaring music of Gabriel Fauré, a transcendent experience and amplification of the human spirit. Anna Kisselgoff raves in The New York Times of the ballet’s powerful images, stunning...extravagant and beautiful. Breaking new ground, she collaborated with Venezuela’s leading environmental artist Jacobo Borges to create her trilogy Blue Cathedral, Rain, and Sand.
Ms. Buglisi has collaborated with composers Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Jeff Beal, Tan Dun, Glen Velez, Jennifer Higdon, Libby Larsen, Alex Weiser, Daniel Brewbaker, Reza Vali, Andy Teirstein; cellist, Maya Beiser; Flamenco Guitarist, Gerardo Nunez, the Cassatt String Quartet, Syracuse University Symphony Orchestra and Singers; spoken word artist Marc Bamuthi Joseph; lighting designers Clifton Taylor and Jack Mehler; mannequin maker Ralph Pucci; and Italian artist Rossella Vasta on the Table of Silence Project 9/11, a site-specific ritual for peace performed at Lincoln Center by over 150 dancers, music ensemble and chorus, and seen via live stream across the U.S. in all 50 states and worldwide in 238 countries/territories. For her contribution in uniting the dance community through the Table of Silence Project, Buglisi was named a “New Yorker for Dance” by Dance/NYC and received Proclamations from Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, the 2020 Bessie Award Special Citation and the 2022 Juilliard President's Medal presented by President Damian Woetzel.
During her 30 year association with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Ms. Buglisi was a Principal Dancer for 12 years, performing the classic roles and those created for her by Miss Graham. She danced in Ms. Graham’s honor on the nationally televised CBS Presentation of the Kennedy Center Honors and the PBS film An Evening of Dance and Conversation with Martha Graham. Her duet Sospiri was performed by the Martha Graham Company at New York City Center (1989). Coached by Jane Sherman, she performed Ruth St. Denis’ solos internationally including Lyon Biennale De La Danse and on film in Trailblazers of American Modern Dance, and The Spirit of Denishawn.
A master teacher committed to arts-in-education, she received commissions by the University of Richmond, California State University/Long Beach, George Mason University, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance, Interlochen Arts Academy, the State Ballet College of Oslo, Ailey/Fordham University B.F.A. Program, Oklahoma Arts Institute, the Juilliard School’s Emerging Modern Masters Series, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Boston Conservatory of Music, Randolph-Macon College and the National Dance Institute, among others. In 1970, she founded the first school of contemporary dance for the community of Spoleto, Italy and was the Master Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts. She has taught for the Dance Aspen Festival from 1990-95, the Julio Bocca Center in Argentina, the 97-98 Victoria College Melbourne, and the Chautauqua Institution and Festival. She is Chairperson of the Modern Department at The Ailey School for 30 years, served on the faculty of The Juilliard School 91 -05, The Martha Graham School since 1977 and guest teaches at the famed Performing Arts High School (alumna), Steps on Broadway, and Peridance Capezio Center. She was named Honorary Chair for the Marymount Manhattan College ‘05 Gala and served as panelist for the Heinz Awards and the New Jersey State Council for the Arts. She served as a Grand Marshal of the 2013 Parade in NYC.
Ms. Buglisi’s repertoire is archived in the Jerome Robbins Dance Collection of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Awards and honors include: 2022 Juilliard President's Medal, 2020 Bessie Award Special Citation, 2016 Fini International Lifetime Achievement Award, Dance Parade's 2016 Grand Marshall/Lifetime Achievement Award, 2014 Kaatsbaan International Playing Field Award, American Dance Guild Award for Artistic Excellence, Fiorello LaGuardia Award for Excellence, The Gertrude Shurr Award for Dance, Altria Group’s 2007 Women Choreographer Initiative Award, National Endowment for the Arts choreographer fellowships, challenge grants from the Arnhold Foundation, commissioning grants from The Harkness Foundation for Dance and The O’Donnell-Green Music & Dance Foundation, and important grants from the Howard Gilman Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, among others. Ms. Buglisi served for three terms on Dance/USA’s Board of Trustees as Chair, Artistic Directors Council (2010-2013).
Ms. Buglisi's presenter will be Terese Capucilli.
Sponsors for Students
Jody and John Arnhold
Penny Frank Mandel
Damian Woetzel and Heather Watts