Dance/USA Awards

The Dance/USA Awards have been given to extraordinary leaders in the dance field, both artists and administrators, over the past thirty years. The awards are a long-standing tradition of Dance/USA beginning in 1986 with the first Honor Awards given to Antony Tudor and Martha Graham and in 1990 with the first ‘Ernie’ Award given to Ian ‘Ernie’ Horvath. Over the years, outstanding leaders such as Arthur Mitchell, Paul Taylor, Alvin Ailey, Deborah Jowitt, Sam Miller, Katherine Dunham, and many more have been recognized for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the national dance field.

The Dance/USA Honor, ‘Ernie’, and Trustees Awards recognize an individual’s contributions to dance in America and acknowledges the roles they play in the national dance community. Nominations for Dance/USA’s Honor and ‘Ernie’ awards are accepted from the entire dance field, and the final selection is made by the Dance/USA Board of Trustees. The Trustees Award is given at the discretion of the Dance/USA Board of Trustees to recognize an outstanding professional whose work has special significance to the field. 

2022 Award Nominations Now CLOSED

Help Dance/USA honor extraordinary dance leaders: submit your nominations for the Dance/USA 2022 Honor and ‘Ernie’ Awards. The Honor and ‘Ernie’ awards recognize an individual’s contributions to dance in America and acknowledge their achievements and the roles they play in the national dance community. Dance/USA will present the awards in a virtual Honors Ceremony on March 10, 2022.  

We invite you to nominate a friend, colleague, client, employee, employer or anyone who deserves to be celebrated! Consider nominating someone who contributes to the creative and cultural life of the dance community through their chosen artistic medium and extraordinary leadership, and whose impact on the field of dance has yet to be publicly acknowledged.

Four awards and floral arrangement sitting on table

Dance/USA Honor Award

The Honor Award is given to an individual for demonstrated achievements, extraordinary leadership, and exceptional contributions to the national dance field which consistently reflect a high level of artistic excellence, creative force of vision, and breadth of work.

1986  Antony Tudor and Martha Graham2009 Tina Ramirez
1988  Robert Joffrey and Merce Cunningham2010 Carmen de Lavallade
1990  Agnes de Mille, Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey2011 Lar Lubovitch
1992  Katherine Dunham and Bella Lewitzky2012 Helgi Tomasson
1994  Alexandra Danilova and Charles Reinhart2013 Joan Myers Brown
1996  Willam Christensen and Donald McKayle2014 Liz Lerman
1998  Judith Jamison and Bruce Marks2015 Trisha Brown
2000  Jeraldyne Blunden and David R. White2016 Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
2002  Chuck Davis2017 Cleo Parker Robinson
2004  Arthur Mitchell2018 Debbie Allen
2006  Anna Halprin2019 Dianne McIntyre
2008 Frederic Franklin2021 Donald Byrd

Dance/USA ‘Ernie’ Award

The ‘Ernie’ Award is given to an individual working “behind the scenes” within the infrastructure of the national dance field, who has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, outstanding value in the field, and whose achievements have influenced and significantly advanced the work of artists and supported their creativity.

1990  Ian ‘Ernie’ Horvath2010 Richard J. Caples
1992 Richard E. LeBlond Jr.2011 Verdery Roosevelt
1994  Martha Hill Davies and Bessie Schonberg2012 Sam Miller
1996  Barbara Horgan and Ivan Sygoda2013 Barbara Weisberger
1998  Deborah Jowitt2014 D. David Brown
2000  Norton Owen and John R. Killacky2015 Linda Shelton
2002  Cora Cahan2016 Ann Williams
2004  Sage Cowles2017 Gina Gibney
2006  Madeleine Nichols2018 Carla Perlo
2008  Anna Kisselgoff2019 Glenn McCoy
2009  Sali Ann Kriegsman2021 Zenetta S. Drew

The ‘Ernie’ Award is named for the late dancer, choreographer, director, AIDS activist, and dance champion Ian ‘Ernie’ Horvath, in recognition of his important role in dance history and his passionate commitment to growing and strengthening the national dance community.

Dance/USA Trustees Award

The Trustees Award is given at the discretion of the Dance/USA Board of Trustees to recognize an outstanding professional whose work has special significance to the field.

2004  Alan M. Kriegsman2015  Raven Wilkinson
2007  Dr. Richard Gibbs2016  Ella Baff
2008  Rena Shagan2017  Douglas Sonntag
2011 Andrea Snyder2018 Mary Verdi-Fletcher
2012  C.C. Conner, Jr.2021 Amy Fitterer and Grace B. Gilette
2013 Sharon Gersten Luckman

Dance/USA Champion Award

The Champion Award is given to any organization, business, foundation, or individual in the Annual Conference host city whose achievements, leadership, and support have sustained and/or significantly advanced dance in their home community.

2010  The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation
and the Meyer Foundation
2016 Sarah & Dr. Ernest Butler
2011  Pamela Crutchfield2017 Billie Mahoney
2012 Chris & Warren Hellman and Kary Shulman2018 Lula Washington and Erwin
2014  Dr. Robert and Katherine Goodale2019 Terry and Sheldon Adelman
2015 Toby Lerner Ansin