New York, New York – The New York Foundation for the Arts presented Dwight Rhoden, Artistic Director and Co-founder of Complexions Contemporary Ballet, with the 2014 Hall of Fame Award for choreography on Tues., April 22.
The ceremony, which also serves as the Foundation’s only annual fundraising event, took place at the Tribeca Rooftop. NYFA also honored author Terry McMillan, visual artist Deborah Kass and the philanthropic organization, the Ford Foundation.
Legendary dancer, choreographer, actress and Artistic Advisor for Complexions, Carmen de Lavallade presented Rhoden with the award.
For Rhoden and the NYFA, the award ceremony brings the relationship between the artist and the supportive, arts organization full circle.
Rhoden says that the NYFA played a vital role in helping him lay the foundation for Complexions Contemporary Ballet in 1994.
“In the early days, NYFA was the fiscal sponsor for Complexions,” he said. “The organization has also really been helpful. When a company first starts out, the director needs assistance and mentorship about the business aspect of things.”
Rhoden also received funding from NYFA to continue to create choreographic work and help establish Complexions as the well-acclaimed company it is known as today.
Michael Royce, the Executive Director of the NYFA, said the Foundation decided to financially support Rhoden’s efforts because of his talent and commitment to diversity.
“We gave him a grant in 1998 because the panel felt that he was exceptionally talented, and had a compelling vision as a choregpaher,” Royce said “We feel that his Company brings to the audience a multiculturally environment that he connects to. His Company was one of the first to do that, so we feel that he is definitely a trendsetter.”
As Rhoden also celebrates the 20th anniversary of Complexions, he said that he is also honored to receive the Hall of Fame award at such a fitting time.
“Any time I receive recognition in my field, it feels good because I don’t look for it, it’s not my focus,” Rhoden said. “I’m just doing my work and trying to be truthful and honest in what I do by reaching out to people. Complexions has always been about inclusion, bringing people together and using dance as a medium to do that.”
Rhoden’s works, like the Racial Reconciliation Project he spearheaded as an Artist-In-Residence at the University of Mississippi in 2004, crosses cultural, racial and geographical boundaries.
Rhoden’s artistic integrity and commitment to diversity, Royce said, made him a perfect selection for this award.
“His talent and ability to bring to and connect dance to audiences all over the world demonstrates the joy and power of dance,” Royce said.”He empowers dancers and the chemistry between dancers and the audiences at different stage of their lives, and NYFA parallels that by empowering artists at critical stages of their lives.”
The NYFA Hall of Fame Benefit began in 2011 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the organization, Royce said.
According to Royce, funds raised from the event helps the organization support individual artists through grant programs, professional development training and online resources.
To view a list of previous NYFA Hall of Fame Award recipients, click here.