The Winners of the 2012 26th Annual ‘Isadora Duncan Dance Awards’; Honoring the Bay Area’s Best in Dance

The Izzies-2012

The San Francisco Bay Area dance community loves the ‘Izzies’, the affectionate moniker it has attached to the ‘Isadora Duncan Dance Awards’, that honor the best of the Bay, when it comes to all things dance. Last night was no exception; the crowd was in a truly celebratory mood, being feted at the ODC building, an award winner itself, as dancers, choreographers, visual designers, composers, and musicians rubbed elbows and clinked glasses at the party and awards ceremony created in their honor.

San Francisco Ballet Principal Character Dancer and esteemed choreographer, Val Caniparoli, was a charming and affable co-host with Denise Pate, Cultural Funding Coordinator for the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program, as he informed the audience that he was, in fact, not Steve Martin-a joke about his natural, stunning, and newly undyed, ‘silver fox’ locks. When former SFB Principal Dancer Joanna Berman later commented that she was glad he’d gone au naturale, as there would be more dark dye available for her own locks, the crowd responded to the in-joke between these two friends with the expected good cheer of giggles and groans. 

But it was San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Lorena Feijoo who gave the best ‘belly laughs’ of the evening; when she came forward to accept her Honorary Achievement Award (1 of the 5 SFB ballerinas being honored for her exquisite portrayal of ‘Giselle’), the popular ballerina riffed on a previous comment made by one of the 3-way tie winners of the ‘Visual Design’ award-I believe it was Enrico Labayen. He had gushed with appreciation at being recognized for his work his first time out, calling himself a “virgin” in his category. Well, it was just too tempting for Ms. Feijoo, who is known for her sparkling wit, amongst other things; when she came forward to accept her award, she had the crowd howling  as she stepped out from behind the podium, turned to the side, showing her impending motherhood in profile, smoothed her gown over her abdomen for emphasis, and exclaimed that she was not a virgin.  

Touché, Lorena!  

As usual, Lorena and her fiance, SFB Principal Dancer Vitor Luiz, also nominated with her for their Napa Valley ‘Festival del Sole’ rendering of Possokhov’s ‘Talk to Her’, one of the most passionate performances this journalist has seen, looked glamorous, stunning, and appropriate as did SFB Principals Vanessa Zahorian and Davit Karapetyan. Vanessa, 1 of the 5 honored Giselles, and new husband Davit, are also known to be gorgeous representives of SFB and let me tell you, it matters. Any young up-and-comer at SFB could benefit from a lesson with any one of these 4 dancers in how to dress for an occasion-the ‘Izzies’ awards ceremony being one of the most important occasions of the year-especially when they are representing one of the most acclaimed ballet companies in the world. 

It’s no surprise that another stunning figure that drew all eyes was dance luminary Edward Villella, Founding Artistic Director of Miami City Ballet, who presented Deborah Dubowy with a Sustained Achievement Award for her 18 years in presenting ‘Words on Dance’, a dance lecture series that Odette has enjoyed since Deborah first had Evelyn Cisneros interview Maria Tallchief. If the respect of the dance community is guaged by the presenter of such an award, the admiration and gratitude for Ms. DuBowy’s contribution to the Bay Area dance community is immeasurable.

Speaking of well chosen presenters, SFBalletomanes will be delighted to know that it was one of San Francisco Ballet’s most memorable former Giselles, Joanna Berman, to present the Special Award to the 5 Honorees dubbed ‘The Many Faces of Giselle’, San Francisco Ballet’s Giselles of 2011, Maria Kochetkova, Lorena Feijoo, Yuan Yuan Tan, Sarah Van Patten, and Vanessa Zahorian. Of the 5, Yuan Yuan Tan and Maria Kochetkova could, sadly, not be present.

Before we move on to the official press release, Odette would like to congratulate all the nominees and honorees…with a special mention to San Francisco Ballet Principal Dancer Sofiane Sylve, winner of the ‘Outstanding Achievement in Performance-Individual’ award for her divine channeling of Balanchine in the 2nd movement of ‘Symphony in C’ at the Stern Grove Festival. Never have I attended that festival where so many sat enraptured by a single artist, but let it be said that her partner, Vito Mazzeo, was equally magical, and that her performance of the same ballet with Tiit Helimets, on the War Memorial Opera House stage, was every bit as beautiful.

Odette would also like to note that Gennadi Nedvigin, nominated for his ravishingly bravura (and hilarious!) performance as ‘Franz’ in SFB’s Coppelia, looked debonair, as did his elegantly attired fiancée, Miho, another splendid example of SFB’s best who deserved an award for just being himself-personable and charming.

Here’s the Press Release announcing the winners (for a full list of nominees and honorees with photos, go here): 


San Francisco, California, March 26, 2012 

 The winners of the 2012 Isadora Duncan Dance Awards were announced tonight at a ceremony featuring luminaries from the local, national and international dance communities.

Hosting the ceremony at ODC Theater in San Francisco were the celebrated choreographer Val Caniparoli and Denise Pate, Cultural Funding Coordinator for the City of Oakland’s Cultural Funding Program.

Among those presenting awards were Edward Villella, Founding Artistic Director of the Miami City Ballet and former New York City Ballet dancer; choreographer Scott Wells, Artistic Director of Scott Wells & Dancers; KT Nelson, choreographer and Co-Artistic Director of ODC; former San Francisco Ballet ballerina Joanna Berman; choreographer Sara Shelton Mann, founding Artistic
Director of Contraband; Rudi Soriano, choreographer and Artistic Director of Likha Pilipino Folk Ensemble; filmmaker and cinematographer Austin Forbord; Carlos Carvajal, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival; Rob Bailis, former Theater Director of ODC;composer, musician Joan Jenrenaud and flamenco singer Kina Mendez.

The following is the list of Izzie Award winners by award category.

 Outstanding Achievement in Performance – Company

The Dancers of ‘Terra Incognita, Revisited’, performed for the West Wave Festival at Z Space.

Outstanding Achievement in Performance – Ensemble

Katie Faulkner and Brandon ‘Private’ Freeman, ‘Until We Know For Sure’, choreography by Katie Faulkner, The A.W.A.R.D Show, ODC Theater

Outstanding Achievement in Performance-Individual

Sofiane Sylve, Balanchine’s ‘Symphony in C’, 2nd movement, San Francisco Ballet, Stern Grove Festival

Outstanding Achievement in Choreography

Alex Ketley, Kara Davis, Katie Faulkner, Manuelito Biag, ‘Terra Incognita, Revisited’, performed in the West Wave Festival at Z Space

 Outstanding Achievement in Music/Sound/Text

Zakir Hussain, Music for ‘Scheherazade’, choreography by Alonzo King, performed by Alonzo King LINES Ballet at the Novellus Theater

Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design (3-Way Tie)

Axel Morgenthaler, Lighting Design; Robert Rosenwasser, Set Design; Colleen Quen, Costume Design,’Scheherazade’, choreography by Alonzo King, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Novellus Theater

Christopher Haas, Set Design, ‘Triangle of the Squinches’, choreography by Alonzo King, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Novellus Theater

Enrico Labayen,’Costumes & Visual Design’, ‘En-Gulfed’, choreography by Enrico Labayen, Labayen Dance/SF, Dance Mission Theater

Outstanding Achievement in Restaging / Revival / Reconstruction

Antoine Vereecken, restaging of ‘Chroma’ by Wayne McGregor (2006), performed by San Francisco Ballet, War Memorial Opera House

Special Award Honorees

Lorena Feijoo, Maria Kochetkova, Yuan Yuan Tan, Sarah Van Patten, & Vanessa Zahorian, ‘The Many Faces of Giselle’, for 5 stellar interpretations of the title role in the quintessential romantic ballet ‘Giselle’, performed by the San Francisco Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House

Nina Menendez and The Bay Area Flamenco Partnership-for the 2010 Festival Flamenco Gitano which presented two multi-generational families of flamenco artists from the Spanish gypsy community of Andalucia.

Patty-Ann Farrell– for her lighting designs for the 33rd San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival at the Novellus Theater, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

Sustained Achievement Honorees

Deborah DuBowy and Words on Dance- for 18 years of presenting celebrated dance artists with the opportunity to speak about their careers and share their passion for dance with the larger dance community

Cathleen McCarthy and Joan Lazarus and West Wave Dance- for 20 years of presenting groundbreaking dance in the San Francisco Bay Area

Dr. James Garrick and The Center for Sports Medicine at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital- for the Saint Francis Dance Medicine practice, created to meet the unique needs of stage performers

The Isadora Duncan Dance Awards, known locally as the Izzies, are awarded annually to acknowledge exceptional creative achievements in the performance and presentation of dance. Awards are given in nine categories to honor the dancers, choreographers, designers, composers, dance companies, dance scholars and other
individuals who have made important contributions to the San Francisco Bay Area’s thriving dance community.

During each 12-month performance cycle, running September 1 – August 31, the Committee collectively views over 400 eligible performances. The final nominees and honorees are selected at an annual voting meeting held in September after
the close of the viewing cycle.

Member profiles and lists of previous nominees and award winners are available online at or

The Izzies Committee is supported by donations from individuals, groups, the Fleishhacker Foundations, the Zellerbach Family Fund and Wells Fargo Bank.



About Odette's Ordeal

'Ballet's Head Cheerleader'
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5 Responses to The Winners of the 2012 26th Annual ‘Isadora Duncan Dance Awards’; Honoring the Bay Area’s Best in Dance

  1. Mark Litwin says:

    Gennadi’s “girlfriend”, Miho, is actually his fiancee.

    my best, Mark

    • Thanks Mark-
      Not so much an ‘Oops’, as a careful mention before receiving Gennadi’s ‘ok’ to mention her as his fiancee. Often we assume that it’s ok to mention something ‘in print’, because the artist has chatted with us personally, but my policy is to never ‘assume’ till I check with the artist, as some people are more private about their personal lives. That said, Gennadi is proud and happy to announce his impending wedding this summer, If I’m lucky, maybe they will share their wedding photos with us!

  2. Dan says:

    Thanks for the report and your support for the Bay Area dance community. It was, indeed, a wonderful night!

    Dan Meagher
    Diablo Ballet

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Sounds like a great night!

    • It was one of the best awards ceremonies they’ve had and so wonderful to see Lines Ballet peeps supporting Westwave peeps supporting Diablo Ballet peeps supporting ODC peeps supporting San Francisco Ballet peeps supporting Smuin Ballet peeps supporting Ballet San Jose peep (former founding Artistic Director Dennis Nahat, looking handsome and happy) supporting African, Flamenco, and Filipino dance peeps. The dance community is small and very generous with its support for peers. Aren’t we happy and proud to love such a respectful art?

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