The Sage Awards themselves are beautiful - created by Keith Holmes, a photographer who has perfected the technique of putting an image onto bricks, in this case, portraits of Sage Cowles.
Ben Johnson, director of the Concert & Lectures at Northrop Auditorium, gave the opening address. He commented on the high level of dance and the commitment to dance in Minnesota and suggested that we are becoming the face of dance, rivaling, if not surpassing, NYC.
Cassandra Shore was the host and she was entertaining - comfortable and humorous, dancing on and off stage in traditional costumes from her genre of dance (Middle and Near Eastern) for each of the six categories of nominees.
Live music by Music Mundial turned out to be more than just a musical backdrop. They were a welcome addition to the evening, improvisational with the presenters and host, as well as playing their own music.
I very much wanted to see actual performances from the nominees. I realize that full productions might not have been possible, but the video and still photos they provided did not give me - an audience member who did not see the majority of performances - any real idea of what was being nominated.
That said, the best part of the evening was the live performances. Alanna Morris performed a beautiful and soulful piece. She was followed by Ananya Dance Theatre. They enveloped the stage with a canon of fluidity and then transformed themselves into a percussive, earth pounding force. The last performers were Chris Yon & Taryn Grigs. They dazzled us with a fast and humorous commentary on human relationships.
If the Sage Awards for Dance want this event to grow it might be a good idea to create an evening that showcases some of the best dance in town for those who are interested but will not/cannot go to fifteen events throughout the year. I was excited to see these individuals and groups that I had heard of but hadn't seen. Instead I was presented with a very two-dimensional representation of their work. It was obvious that the audience was filled with associates and friends of the nominees who knew the pieces and performers and had no need to see them in the flesh. Not true for the curious.
For a complete list of nominees and winners, visit sage awards.org