The Radio City Rockettes will open this year’s Chita Rivera Awards with a show stopping performance of “New York, New York.” The Rockettes history with Chita Rivera dates back more than 30 years when the renowned precision dance company performed alongside Rivera in the 1988 tour of Can-Can.
The 2019 Chita Rivera Awards will be presented tonight Sunday, May 19 at 7:30pm at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place off Washington Square Park), and produced by Joe Lanteri, Founder and Executive Director of the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc. in conjunction with Patricia Watt
Tickets to the Chita Rivera Awards are available to the general public at www.ChitaRiveraAwards.com “We are elated that the legendary Radio City Rockettes will open the Chita Rivera Awards ceremony this year,” said producer Joe Lanteri. “No American dance company is more recognizable or beloved than the Rockettes, and we are thrilled that they will kick off this year’s ceremony with a dazzling performance as we celebrate and honor the best in Broadway, off-Broadway, and film choreographic achievement.” The Radio City Rockettes have long been considered American icons – from their founding in St. Louis in 1925 as the “Missouri Rockets,” through their move to New York City in 1927 and their participation in the opening of Radio City Music Hall in 1932, to their starring role in the Christmas Spectacular. The all-female dance company is renowned for their ability to perform complex and intricate precision choreography all while embodying strength, teamwork and unity. The Christmas Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes has been a beloved holiday tradition for more than 85 years and brings joy to the more than one million people annually that see the production at Radio City Music Hall. Outside of the Christmas Spectacular, the Radio City Rockettes have performed at some of the most important events in entertainment, including their annual appearances in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting, and on multiple national television programs including the Today Show, Live with Kelly & Ryan, Good Morning America, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, America’s Got Talent, The Wendy Williams Show and Project Runway. The Rockettes have also performed at the Tony Awards, the MTV VMAs, the NBA All-Star Game and the MLB Home Run Derby.
Carol Paumgarten will receive the Vanguard Awardfor her outstanding contribution to the international dance community. Carol foundedSteps on Broadway Dance Studio 40 years ago. Steps is recognized, around the world, as the premiere professional training center in New York City. At this year’s Chita Rivera Awards, dancer, choreographer and theater director Graciela Daniele will receive the third annual Lifetime Achievement Award, and Flody Suarez, Jeffrey Seller, and Cher (producers of The Cher Show on Broadway) will be honored with the Ambassador for the Arts Award honoring their contribution to the convergence of theater, film, and television. George C. Wolfe will be presented with the SDC Director Award for exemplary collaboration with choreographers on Broadway. The mission of the Chita Rivera Awards is to celebrate dance and choreographic excellence, preserve notable dance history, and recognize past, present and future talents while promoting high standards in dance education and investing in the next generation. Nominators consider outstanding choreography, featured dancers and ensembles in Broadway and Off-Broadway shows, as well as outstanding choreography in film during the theatrical season. The Off-Broadway and Film committees make nominations and name winners in those categories. Broadway nominees are designated by the Broadway nominating committee and winners selected by the Broadway awarding committee.
The 2018 Awarding Committee includes:Chair: Sylviane Gold; Gary Chryst, Anna Kisselgoff, Robert LaFosse, Donna McKechnie, Wendy Perron, and Lee Roy Reams
Broadway Nominating Committee includes:Chair: Wendy Federman; Melinda Atwood, Caitlin Carter, Don Correia, Gary Chryst, Sandy Duncan, Mercedes Ellington, Sylviane Gold, Jonathan Herzog, Anna Kisselgoff, Robert La Fosse, Joe Lanteri,, Donna McKechnie, Michael Milton, Mary Beth O’Connor, Laura Penn, Wendy Perron, Lee Roy Reams, Andy Sandberg, and Randy Skinner Off-Broadway Nominating Committee includes:Chair: Jonathan Herzog; Deidre Goodwin, Scott Jovovich, Robert La Fosse, and Michael Milton Film Committee includes:Co-Chairs: Jonathan Herzog and Rex Reed; Wilhelmina Frankfurt, Joanna Ney, Mary Beth O’Connor, Andy Sandberg
Chita Rivera theatrical icon and one of Broadway’s greatest triple-threat talents, Chita Rivera is one of the most nominated performers in Tony Award history having earned 10 nominations, won twice and received the 2018 Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. A versatile actress/singer/dancer, she recently starred in The Visit, the final John Kander/Fred Ebb/Terrence McNally musical directed by John Doyle and choreographed by Graciela Daniele on Broadway, the Broadway revival of The Mystery of Edwin Drood, the Broadway and touring productions of The Dancer’s Life, a dazzling new musical celebrating her spectacular career, written by Terrence McNally and directed by Graciela Daniele and the revival of the Broadway musical Nine with Antonio Banderas. She trained as a ballerina (from age nine) before receiving a scholarship to the School of American Ballet from the legendary choreographer George Balanchine. Chita’s first appearance (age 17) was as a principal dancer in Call Me Madam. Her electric performance as Anita in the original Broadway premiere of West Side Story brought her stardom, which she repeated in London. Her career is highlighted by starring roles in Bye Bye Birdie, The Rink (Tony Award), Chicago, Jerry’s Girls, Kiss of the Spider Woman (Tony Award), and the original Broadway casts of Guys and Dolls, Can-Can, Seventh Heaven and Mr. Wonderful. On tour: Born Yesterday, The Rose Tattoo, Call Me Madam, Threepenny Opera, Sweet Charity, Kiss Me Kate, Zorba,Can-Can with The Rockettes. Chita was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2009 and received the coveted Kennedy Center Honor in 2002. In 2018 she was honored as a Living Landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy; in 2016 she headlined at Carnegie Hall and in 2015, Great Performances aired their special Chita Rivera: A Lot of Livin’ To Do, a retrospective of her extraordinary life and career nationally on PBS. Her current solo CD is entitled And Now I Swing. Her most treasured production is her daughter, singer/dancer/choreographer Lisa Mordente.
The NYC Dance Alliance Foundation, Inc. (NYCDAF), founded in 2010 by Executive Director Joe Lanteri, is committed to broadening performing arts awareness while advocating education and high standards of excellence in dance. The Foundation invests in the next generation of professional performers by offering scholarships for secondary and college education. To date, over 250 talented teenagers have shared in nearly $2.5 million awarded directly through NYCDAF. Those recipients are represented in 42 of the most prestigious university arts programs in the country. Many have since graduated and are now represented on Broadway, as well as concert dance companies based in NYC and around the world. www.NYCDAFoundation.net
Rockettes photo credit: MSG Photos/Angela Cranford