PRESS RELEASE: Dance/USA to Honor Cleo Parker Robinson, Gina Gibney, and Billie Mahoney at Annual Conference in Kansas City, MO

February 2, 2017

Contact: Johanna Tschebull
202.833.1717 x 106

Washington, DC – Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, is pleased to announce the 2017 Dance/USA Honorees:

  • Cleo Parker Robinson, Founder and Artistic Director, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, will receive the Dance/USA Honor Award.
  • Gina Gibney, Artistic Director & CEO, Gibney Dance, will receive the Dance/USA ‘Ernie’ Award.
  • Billie Mahoney, Kansas City Dance Artist, will receive the Dance/USA Champion Award.

The 2017 awards will be presented on Wednesday, June 7, 2017 during the Opening Night Celebration, which kicks off the 2017 Dance/USA Annual Conference, being held June 7-10, 2017 in Kansas City, MO. The Opening Night Celebration will take place at Union Station and will include a cocktail hour, presentation of the Dance/USA awards, and dinner.

The Dance/USA Annual Conference is the country’s broadest gathering of dance professionals, offering expertise from industry leaders, networking, enriching professional development, creative conversations, discussion on important issues facing the field, performances, and more. Early Bird Rates for the 2017 Annual Conference are available until March 22, 2017. Register for the Conference here. If you’re a member of the press and you’re interested in attending the Conference, contact Dance/USA here.

“I’m thrilled that dance artists and administrators from across the country have singled out these individuals for recognition,” said Dance/USA Executive Editor Amy Fitterer.  “It is an honor to be recognized by your peers and we look forward to celebrating the 2017 Honorees in Kansas City this June.”

Robinson is Founder and Artistic Director of the 46 year-old Denver based artistic institution, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. As a master teacher/choreographer and cultural ambassador, she teaches and performs with her Ensemble both nationally and internationally. Cleo Parker Robinson Dance encompasses a professional dance Ensemble and Second Company, a Youth Ensemble, an Academy of Dance, an International Summer Dance Institute, a 240-seat theatre which bears Cleo’s name, and a diversity of educational and community outreach programs. In addition, in the early 1980s, Robinson served on the committee that founded Dance/USA.  Read more here.

Gibney is a choreographer, director, and entrepreneur. She founded Gibney Dance in 1991 as a performing and social action dance company. Today, the organization has rapidly emerged as a cultural leader that operates through three fields of action: Company, Community, and Center.

Gibney’s work is featured in the repertory of the organization’s resident dance ensemble, Gibney Dance Company. Gibney has created over thirty dances for the Company, including fourteen evening length works. Called a “poet of modern dance” by The New York Times, her work has been featured in recent years by such venues as Baryshnikov Arts Center (NY), Florence Gould Hall (NY), Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum (NY), Danspace Project (NY), White Bird (OR), the Yale Repertory Theater (CT), DANCECleveland (OH), L’Agora de la Danse (Canada), and Internationale Tanzmesse (Germany). Read more here.

Mahoney, a Kansas City native, spent nearly forty years in New York City with a performing career on the variety stage and in film and television. Career highlights: featured act with Lionel Hampton and his band in night club and theater tours including New York’s Apollo Theater; personal appearances with Bob Hope; musical theater with Bob Fosse; featured with Ringling Bros. Circus at Madison Square Garden as champion baton twirler; USO in Korea and Japan. Major television includes The Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Arthur Godfrey and Friends, Caesar’s Hour, and The Tonight Show. Danced with Gregory Hines at the Folly Theater, 2001, where he called her a “Legend in tap dance”; Featured in the Palm Springs Follies, California, 2002-03. Read more here.

The Opening Night Celebration is supported in part by Brancato’s Catering, Harvest Productions, and Union Station Kansas City. Freed of London is proud to exclusively sponsor this year’s Dance/USA Honor Award presented to Cleo Parker Robinson.

About the 2017 Dance/USA Annual Conference
Dance/USA will host its 9th Annual Conference in Kansas City, MO from June 7-10, 2017. Dance/USA will also be celebrating its 35th Anniversary in 2017! From executive directors and emerging arts leaders to managers and presenters, agents and artists, nearly 450 individuals associated with the professional dance field will convene in Kansas City for networking, creative conversation, enriching training sessions, discussion on important issues facing the field.

Programming at the Conference will be a mix of discussion-based sessions and practical breakout sessions. Broad questions that will drive programmatic content and conversations will be: How will we continue to finance dance, How will dance deal with constant technological change, and What is the social responsibility of dance?  Dance/USA’s core values of equity, inclusion, and diversity will serve as a lens by which the design of all topics and sessions will pass through including but not limited to the diversity of voices being presented, addressing the needs of the diverse group of Conference attendees, and program designs that allow for active discussion

The 2017 Annual Conference will be campus style to showcase the beauty of Kansas City’s local arts venues including Union Station, Kansas City Ballet, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

For more information about the 2017 Dance/USA Annual Conference, please visit our website here.

Dance/USA is grateful to the following: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Harkness Foundation for Dance, National Endowment for the Arts, and The Shubert Foundation.  Additional thanks to 2017 Annual Conference sponsors: ArtsKC; Black Archives of Mid-America; Belger Arts Center; Brancato’s Catering; Capacity Interactive; Ally, Dr. Jessie Ng, and Dr. Tom Curran; Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Francis Family Foundation; Freed of London; Harlequin Floors; Harvest Productions; JCCC, The Performing Arts Series; Kansas City Ballet; Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts; Mid-America Arts Alliance; Missouri Arts Council;  Muriel McBrien Kauffman Foundation; National World War I Museum and Memorial; Overland Chauffeured Services; Parisi Artisan Coffee; PB&J Restaurants; The Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts/Commerce Bank, Trustee; Tico Productions; Super Shuttle; and Union Station Kansas City.

About Dance/USA
We believe that dance is essential to a healthy society, demonstrating the infinite possibilities for human expression and potential, and facilitating communication within and across cultures. We are committed to honoring, nurturing and advancing dance through the lens of diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity in all aspects of our programming, services and organization.

Dance/USA is the national service organization for the professional dance field. Established in 1982, Dance/USA sustains and advances professional dance by addressing the needs, concerns, and interests of artists, administrators, and organizations. By providing national leadership and services, Dance/USA enhances the infrastructure for dance creation and distribution, education, and dissemination of information. Learn more about Dance/USA by visiting our website,

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