Wednesday, September 22, 2010

6th Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance: Special Citation

Minneapolis, Minnesota

The 6th Annual Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance recognized 11 people connected to Minnesota's dance community at ceremonies held Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2010, at the Southern Theater. As one of 13 members of the panel that reviewed performances during 2009/10 and selected the awardees, I was given the privilege of presenting the Special Citation, with the comments below.
The SAGE Awards Special Citation is presented at the discretion of each year's panel to one, living or dead, person or organization, connected to Minnesota dance. 

Each of this year’s three nominees has inspired us with their creations, their performances, their teaching, and their leadership. If, in their leading, they ever felt fear or trepidation, they never let it show. I have known all of them for decades, and I encourage you to do  yourself a favor by befriending them and receiving for yourself the blessings of their experience and wisdom. Their resumes are lengthy, and I provide only a few highlights of each.

Where is Susana di Palma?

Susana, stand up, dear, so that we can admire you and your jewels.

In the 1970s, a colleague invited me to a restaurant and club over by Saint Anthony Main. The Hauser brothers were playing flamenco guitar, and you were dancing solo. It was the first professional dance performance that I ever saw as an adult. I had never seen anything like it. 

You founded Zorongo Flamenco Dance Theatre in 1982 as your vehicle to create traditional flamenco and full-length works of theater-flamenco. In doing that, you regularly brought a stable of international flamenco artists to America and Minnesota, and all of us have been richer for it.

You have known the slings and arrows of working in the nonprofit arts. Once, when we were working together and Zorongo was performing in this very theater, after two days no one was coming in the door. We called the radio station down the street and had them broadcast the message that anyone who turned up would be admitted for free.

A short time later, your work sold 97% of the seats a week of performances at the Joyce Theater in New York City. Reviewing that production of "Dona Flor & Her Two Husbands" for the New York Times, Jennifer Dunning observed that "This is possibly the most imaginative production that has ever appeared at the Joyce."

The Joyce Theater invited you and Zorongo back for the following year, but you said "no," showing us that one can pick and choose the opportunities that present themselves.

With the Zorongo school you have raised up a new generation of flamenco artists to engage and beguile us.

In the panel we talked about how you are a self-made artist and a self-made woman. You are a true, Minnesota original. We bless you, and look forward to your new work, later this fall, at the Ritz.

Olé, my dear!

Patrick Scully! Stand up, man, so we can look up to you as we have for these many years!

From 1976 until 1980, you were a member of the Contactworks Dance Company. Your performance of "A Personal Goodbye" at the Mixed Blood Theatre in 1981 was the second professional dance I attended as an adult. Like a good audience member, I signed your mailing list and, months later, joined your Wednesday night improvisation class held on Block E. But for stumbling upon that performance, someone else would be talking to you right now.

You have performed in Boston, New York, Washington, D. C., Germany, Ireland, Argentina, and all over Minnesota. The New York Times included your 1992 performance at Dance Theater Workshop as among that year's best!

You founded Patrick's Cabaret in 1986. The earliest years of cabaret performances took place in the gymnasium of St. Stephens' Church school. After a time, you moved the cabaret  to "your living room" off of 5th Avenue South by the freeway wall, and later to its present location in the Longfellow neighborhood. 

It was in your living room, while you were out of the country, that Ron Athey presented a performance that tempted  Congress to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts, because the Walker Art Center had allocated $250 of  taxpayers' money for a performance whose notoriety and legend far exceeded the reality of what actually took place.

The essence and meaning of Patrick's Cabaret is found in the permission it gives people - artists and audiences alike - to live their dreams. Patrick's Cabaret gives a hand out, a hand up, and 15 minutes of fame that empowers people to reach for and express the higher angels of their nature.

You are no longer involved in the day-to-day running of the cabaret, but you continue to share with it your wisdom, insight, and inspiration. Like these other two nominees, you are awesome, and we thank you as we look forward to your return to the stage at Patrick's Cabaret in October and November.

Where is Linda Shapiro? Please stand up so that everyone will know who that woman is that writes about them.

A performance by the New Dance Ensemble – the company that you founded with Leigh Dillard in 1981 – was the third professional dance event I attended as an adult. It was a free performance at the Nicollet Island Amphitheatre.

Your titles varied, but you served as the resident choreographer for New Dance, with your work presented on the same stages as those of the national and regional choreographers that you and Leigh commissioned. You also made time to create work on the dancers of Zenon Dance Company.

New Dance Ensemble performed in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and in Paris. It was also – until this new season that is upon us – the only Minnesota ensemble to have appeared on the Northrop Dance Series.

You paid your company of dancers a decent, living wage. Some of us grumbled and actually found fault with the fact that you were trying to do the right thing – envious that we could not do the same with our dancers. Thankfully, no one complains anymore when companies pay their dancers something more than a stipend and sometimes offer them health insurance.

Times and finances changed, however, and you closed New Dance with grace in 1994.

As an affiliate faculty member with the University of Minnesota’s dance program, you encouraged and shaped the lives and prospects of countless young people.

For a younger generation, it is your renown as a writer with which most members of the SAGE panel are most familiar.

From January 2001 until last week, you have had 152 articles published by City Pages. I did not try to count your writings for the Star Tribune, Saint Paul Pioneer Press, and other print outlets.

You love writing about dance – and the diligent care that you bring to your writing shows. You have told me that you spend anywhere from 3 to 5 hours on a single review – worrying that you get it exactly right. We have noticed. And we care because you make permanent what is ephemeral on our stages.

Thank you, my dear, for caring. Thank you for writing. You may have come here in 1972 – as a mere child – but you have become a Minnesota original.

To each of our Special Citation nominees, let me say that you are appreciated, you are admired, you are respected, you are our friends, and we love you!

The 2010 SAGE Award for Dance Special Citation is given to Patrick Scully. 

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