Laura Dean Awards
Dean has received awards, including the Brandeis Creative Arts Award for Extraordinary Artistic Achievement in Dance (1986), a “Bessie” New York Dance Award for her work with composer Steve Reich (1986), two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships for Choreography (1976 and 1981), the Dance Magazine Award (1982), the Montgomery Fellowship from Dartmouth College (1986), Harvard University’s Certificate of Appreciation (1991), the Smithsonian Institution Certificate of Appreciation (1975), New York City Commission of the Status of Women Special Recognition Award (1984), The Staten Island Arts Council Award for Outstanding Achievement (1988), the President’s Award from Staten Island Community College (1987), the ABSOLUT Award for Artistic Achievement (1993), the Lester Horton Award for Music for Dance (1994), Honorary Doctorate from the the College of Staten Island, The City University of New York (2001) and the 2008 Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in Dance. She is the recipient of repeated grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, Meet the Composer Foundation, the Jerome Foundation, the Jerome Robbins Foundation, the Philip Morris Foundation, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund, the Mellon Foundation, the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, the North Carolina State Arts Council, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, the ATT Foundation, the Sherman Foundation, a Creative Artists Public Service Award, a Millennium Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for her work with the American Indian Dance Theatre, and a National Repertory Dance Grant (which was a project of the National Endowment for the Arts) for her work with the Aman Folk Ensemble. Ms. Dean has served as a member of the Inter-Arts Dance/Video and Challenge/Advancement Review and Dance panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also served on the panels of the National Choreography Project, the National Dance Residency Program and the Business in the Arts Awards panel. She was a member of the Independent Committee for the Arts. Dean’s drawings and paintings have been seen on exhibit at the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art, Walker Art Center, Pratt Institute, Het Muziektheater, the National Museum of Dance, Franklin Furnace and the Venice Biennale. An excerpt of Ms. Dean’s work Creative Force, commissioned by the Joffrey Ballet, can be seen in the Robert Altman film The Company. Dean gifted her archive to The American Dance Festival in 2008.
TELEVISION: Beyond the Mainstream - Producer, Merrill Brockway, DANCE IN AMERICA, WNET, NY. 1979; EYE ON DANCE - Laura Dean and Meredith Monk, Producers Celia Ipiotis and Jeff Bush, Telecast March 7, 1983; DANCE ON THE EDGE, The American Dance Festival, Director, Douglas Rosenberg; DANCE AND THE CAMERA, Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, Gary Halvorson, The American Dance Festival, 1979; DANCE AND THE CAMERA, Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians, Dennis Diamond, The American Dance Festival, 1977; SPINNING, Director, Philip Gay, South Carolina Television/The American Dance Festival, 1981; PBS/ Children's Television Workshop 3-2-1- Contact/ Your Body Spinning - aired October 20, 1988; TYMPANI - KTCA- Twin Cities Public Television. Produced and directed by Mark Lowry, Kathryn Escher and Chuck Waggoner. TYMPANI won the American Film Institute Award for Dance in 1980.
From Laura Dean's Dance Magazine Award in 1982.
The choreographer Paul Taylor made the presentation to Laura Dean.
The following is the inscription on the Award.
"Author, artist, teacher, musician, dancer and choreographer, whose richly experimental work is distinguished by the most elemental human movements, bringing us through her energy, drive, and a daring sense of joyful vitality in dance."
From Laura Dean's Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008.
Charles Reinhart, Director of The American Dance Festival made the presentation to Laura Dean.
The following is the inscription on the Award.
"The 2008 Award is presented to Laura Dean, whose dances combine the energetic physicality of American modern dance with the spiritual soul of the East. Rigorous in structure, her dances gather an inner radiance as they unfold, transforming the stage into a communal space of shimmering and kaleidoscopic light. Laura Dean's blazing originality as a choreographer and her extraordinary gifts as a composer further distinguish her genius. Her inspiration will affect generations to come."
"Miss Dean's choreography has the complexity of genius." Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times
"The Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians appeared as part of the series on Thursday night, and the brilliant performance demonstrated that Ms. Dean, who formed her company in 1975, is now unquestionably one of the masters of American modern dance." Jack Anderson, The New York Times on a performance at The American Dance Festival July 1990.
"Laura Dean has never ceased to astonish. Her work, ever intricate in its patterns, ever gradual in its transformations, ever irresistible in its cumulative energy, remains directed both at the mind and the viscera. The thrills are real and they endure." The San Francisco Examiner
"There is a surprising sensuality to the shape and flow of the movements…wonderfully satisfying dance." The Atlanta Constitution
"Her dance works tap some of the most ancient, deep-seated movement impulses known to mankind…a direct, powerful tug at our kinesthetic core and thus a visceral and immediate impact." Alan Kriegsman, The Washington Post
"As they whirled and lifted their faces and palms to the resonating space above them, I thought of some great celestial orchestra made up of vibrations, energies, a universal pulse, not any single artist's tune at all." Marcia B. Siegel, Soho Weekly News
"It carries the magic of revelation". Alan Kriegsman, The Washington Post
"The work truly makes the singer and dancer one". Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times
"Everyone does the same, and on everyone it looks different…and much of the pleasure comes from this unplanned process of continuous variation." Michael Steinberg, Boston Globe
"By stripping away complex development, Laura Dean gives us the time to look harder at what we see." William Littler, Toronto Star
"…bold brilliance…the kinetic power of the company is literally phenomenal." Berliner Morgenpost
"Dean's company of eleven dancers and four musicians take over the stage like a small, self-contained tornado." Joan Timmis, The Minneapolis Star and Tribune
"To her the world seems a mass of arms, circles, whirls, and jumps…ecstatic in their cumulative effectiveness and beauty." Clive Barnes, New York Post
"…intoxicating energy." Susan Reiter, Ballet News
" When a choreographer like Dean offers such an assured concept of movement, such a translucent and direct theory on how space may be defined, when accomplishment so mirrors intent, you know you have touched bases with some fundamental truth about the art form itself." San Francisco Examiner
"…the most impressive part of Miss Dean's work is that this potentially rigid structure radiates a sense of wondrous freedom…" Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times
"…kindles an enormous magnetism and theatricality." Ann Holmes, Houston Chronicle
"…one of the strongest and most individual voices on the contemporary dance scene…" Allan Robertson, Minneapolis Star
"There is no question that she is an original and important artist." Joseph H. Mazo, Women's Wear Daily
"…what Dean is really revealing is raw energy, life, the 'steady pulse' of the universe." Rob Baker, Dance Magazine
"Dean is an original." Mike Steele, Minneapolis Tribune
"Perhaps it is the time in which we live that makes Laura Dean's choreography increasingly valuable. While others are fusing dance with other theatrical elements or seeking to energize movement with narrative overlays, Dean strips dance of everything but the things that make it irresistible in the first place: rhythm and pattern. While others are creating forests, or trying to, Dean is looking at the trees. The stories they tell are eternally interesting. Dean still creates new work, but given her commitment to the basic of dance material, it is telling that Laura Dean Dancers and Musicians has seen fit to present no world premieres during the company's run through Sunday at the Joyce Theater. Of the 12 pieces rotating throughout the engagement, the most recent, Equator, dates from 1988. The program I saw during the weekend goes back to 1976 with DANCE, made only a year after Dean formed her troupe. DANCE remains one of the most enchanting of her works, simply because the score she wrote - she is a composer as well as a choreographer - is so rollicking and susceptible to rhythmic play. As is typical of a Dean dance, the ensemble repeats the same phrases over and over and over again, but with seemingly endless permutations of accent. Why is it so pleasurable to see the EMphasis of a phrase slide into emPHASis? One reason is that Dean does not prepare us for change; in a way, the very repetitiveness of her choreography and music dulls us to the possibility of change. Thus any shift of gears in a Dean work is doubly surprising. But surely the pleasure we take in Dean's play on accents hits us as deeply as meter itself. DANCE tells us why everyone feels the impulse to move to music. Accompanied by two autoharps, played with a lot of zing by Jason Cirker and Matt Spataro, DANCE has a folksy, down-home quality. It is picked up in patterns that often reflect folk dance, as when the six dancers form a line and peel off one by one into leaping diagonals, or when they split in two, forming an aisle down which a central couple can sashay. Although only six dancers are on stage, it's easy to imagine a roomful of people stomping through a reel. The dancers caught the joyful spirit right from the beginning. The piece starts with the group skipping in two concentric circles, pivoting every now and then into a change of direction. Each dancer gave the pivots an extra little heave of the hip - and that bit of funky oomph, subtle as it was, infected the rest of the dance. "Nancy Goldner, Philadelphia Inquirer
And about the music: "It's tremendously kinetic music. The pulsing energy is a meticulously structured torrent of unstoppable repetition…It's devastating." Robert Pierce, Dance Magazine