Dance/USA Opening Night Celebration and Honors


The Dance/USA Honor, 'Ernie', and Champion awards recognize an individual’s contributions to dance in America and acknowledges the roles they play in the national dance community. Presented by the Dance/USA Board of Trustees, these awards are presented to outstanding members of 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. Each year, the Champion Award is selected by the local Host Committee.



The 2018 Honorees are:

Dance/USA Honor Award - Debbie Allen

Dance/USA ‘Ernie’ Award - Carla Perlo

Dance/USA Champion Award - Lula Washington and Erwin Washington

Dance/USA Trustees Award - Mary Verdi-Fletcher



The 2018 awards will be presented during the Opening Night Celebration on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at the Aratani Theatre.

The festivities will include a cocktail hour, dinner, and an awards ceremony recognizing the 2018 awardees. | Cocktail Hour 6pm, Awards Ceremony 7pm, Dinner 8:30pm

Conference attendees and invited guests only.




Dance/USA Honor Award

The Honor Award is given to an individual for demonstrated achievements, extraordinary leadership, and exceptional contributions in 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 Graham
1988 Robert Joffrey and Merce Cunningham
1990 Agnes de Mille, Paul Taylor and Alvin Ailey
1992 Katherine Dunham and Bella Lewitzky
1994 Alexandra Danilova and Charles Reinhart
1996 Willam Christensen and Donald McKayle
1998 Judith Jamison and Bruce Marks
2000 Jeraldyne Blunden and David R. White
2002 Chuck Davis
2004 Arthur Mitchell
2006 Anna Halprin
2008 Frederic Franklin
2009 Tina Ramirez
2010 Carmen de Lavallade
2011 Lar Lubovitch
2012 Helgi Tomasson
2013 Joan Myers Brown
2014 Liz Lerman
2015 Trisha Brown
2016 Jawole Willa Jo Zollar
2017 Cleo Parker Robinson


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’ Horvath
1992 Richard E. LeBlond Jr.
1994 Martha Hill Davies and Bessie Schonberg
1996 Barbara Horgan and Ivan Sygoda
1998 Deborah Jowitt
2000 Norton Owen and John R. Killacky
2002 Cora Cahan
2004 Sage Cowles
2006 Madeleine Nichols
2008 Anna Kisselgoff
2009 Sali Ann Kriegsman
2010 Richard J. Caples
2011 Verdery Roosevelt
2012 Sam Miller
2013 Barbara Weisberger
2014 D. David Brown
2015 Linda Shelton
2016 Ann Williams
2017 Gina Gibney


Dance/USA Champion Award

The Champion Award is given to any organization, business, foundation, or individual in appreciation for their achievements, leadership, outstanding service, and dedicated efforts that have sustained and significantly advanced dance field in the Annual Conference host city.

2010 The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and the Meyer Foundation
2011 Pamela Crutchfield
2012 Chris & Warren Hellman and Kary Schulman
2014 Dr. Robert and Katherine Goodale
2015 Toby Lerner Ansin
2016 Sarah & Dr. Ernest Butler
2017 Billie Mahoney


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. Kriegsman
2007 Dr. Richard Gibbs
2008 Rena Shagan
2011 Andrea Snyder
2012 C.C. Conner, Jr.
2013 Sharon Gersten Luckman
2015 Raven Wilkinson
2016 Ella Baff
2017 Douglas Sonntag