Tommy Tune, Andy Blankenbuehler, The Great Comet Cast, and More Win Big at the First-Ever Chita Rivera Awards | Playbill

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Broadway News Tommy Tune, Andy Blankenbuehler, The Great Comet Cast, and More Win Big at the First-Ever Chita Rivera Awards The inaugural awards honor the dance communities in Broadway, Off-Broadway, and film.
Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune, and Bebe Neuwirth Joseph Marzullo/WENN

On September 11, the New York City dance community gathered at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre for the inaugural Chita Rivera Awards. Formerly named the Astaire Awards (for Fred and Adele Astaire), the evening was a celebration of Rivera and her many accomplishments, as well as an awards ceremony for dance on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in feature films, and in documentaries. It also recognized choreographers, directors, critics, and humanitarians with a slew of special awards and performances.

Nominators considered outstanding choreography, featured dancers, and ensemble in shows on Broadway and Off-Broadway, as well as outstanding choreography in film that opened in the 2016-2017 season. There are separate Nominating Committees for Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Film. There is an Awarding Committee for Broadway, which determines the final nominations that are received from the Broadway Nominations Committee.

Opening with “America” from West Side Story, the show, directed by four-time Tony nominee Randy Skinner, recognized Rivera for one of her most iconic roles as the original Anita. The evening continued with dance performances, including the opening number of the Tony-nominated Best Musical Come From Away (whose choreographer Kelly Devine was nominated for a Chita), a duet from La La Land featuring Robert Fairchild and Melanie Moore, and the cast of American Dance Machine 21 performing from Grand Hotel.

The evening was hosted by Broadway great Bebe Neuwirth, the original Velma Kelly in the current long-running revival of Chicago. Presenters for the evening included original cast members of Broadway’s A Chorus Line Donna McKechnie, Priscilla Lopez, and Baayork Lee (who all entered together performing the choreography to “One” from the musical), Melissa Errico, Chris Noth, and more.

After a lookback at his many great works, Tommy Tune was presented with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. Diane Paulus was presented with the award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theater as Director, and Antonio Vendome was presented the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and Humanity. The Clive Barnes Foundation will receive The Douglas Watt Award for Editorial Excellence in Dance and Musical Theater. Andy Blankenbuehler compounded his Best Choreography Tony win for Bandstand by winning the Chita for Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway show. The cast of The Great Comet, which closed September 3, won for Outstanding Ensemble of a Broadway show. Tony-nominated choreographer Joshua Bergasse took home the award for his choreography in Off-Broadway’s Sweet Charity.

For a full list of the 2017 nominees and winners, see below (winners names are in bold preceded by asterisks):

Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show:
***Andy Blankenbuehler, Bandstand
Josh Bergasse, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Warren Carlyle, Hello Dolly!
Peter Darling and Ellen Kane, Groundhog Day
Kelly Devine, Come from Away
Denis Jones, Holiday Inn
Sergio Trujillo, A Bronx Tale

Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show:
A Bronx Tale
Come from Away
Hello Dolly!
Holiday Inn
***Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show:
***Corbin Bleu, Holiday Inn
John Bolton, Anastasia
Max Clayton, Bandstand
Tyler Hanes, Cats
Ryan Kasprzak, Bandstand
Ricky Ubeda, Cats

Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show:
Andrea Dotto, Bandstand
Lora Lee Gayer, Holiday Inn
Eloise Kropp, Cats
Georgina Pazcoguin, Cats
Emma Pfaeffle, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
***Megan Sikora, Holiday Inn
Christine Cornish Smith, Cats
Jaime Verazin, Bandstand

Outstanding Choreography in an Off-Broadway Show:
***Joshua Bergasse, Sweet Charity
David Dorfman, Indecent
Merete Muenter, The Golden Bride
David Neumann, The Total Bent
Misha Shields, Baghdaddy

Outstanding Female Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show:
Yesenia Ayala, Sweet Charity
Asmeret Ghebremichael, Sweet Charity
Nikka Graff Lanzarone, Sweet Charity
Emily Padgett, Sweet Charity
***Lyrica Woodruff, Finian's Rainbow

Outstanding Male Dancer in an Off-Broadway Show:
Ato Blankson-Wood, The Total Bent
***Brandon Espinoza, Baghdaddy
Curtis Wiley, The Total Bent
Cody Williams, Sweet Charity
Blake Zolfo, Kid Victory

Theatrical Release Nominees
Beauty and the Beast (release date, March 17, 2017), Choreographer Anthony Van Laast
La La Land (released December 25, 2016), Choreographer Mandy Moore
***London Road (released September 9, 2016) Choreographer Javier de Frutos
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (released June 3, 2016) Co-Choreographers Danielle Flora and Tian Wang

Documentary Nominees
Alive and Kicking (Magnolia Pictures, Distributor), Director Susan Glatzer
Dancer (WestEnd Films),Director Steven Cantor
Mr. Gaga (Abramorama Films), Director Tomer Heymann
***Restless Creature (Abramorama Films), Co-Directors Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger

Watch Chita Rivera, Tommy Tune, and more as they talk to Playbill LIVE from the Red Carpet:

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