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Chita Rivera Awards, Cher, and Film Choreography.

by Nathaniel R

Isnt It Romantic?

Did you know that Oscar once had a category for dance? Well, "Dance Direction" to be particular. Which is not quite choreography but close. The category was held for three years and discontinued after the 1937 Academy Awards. Despite the first three to four decades of Oscar ceremonies arriving in a time when movie musicals were plentiful, the Academy Awards never instituted a choreography category. They did give two special achievement Oscars for choreography in the 1960s at the peak of Oscar's musical obsession. The first was for Jerome Robbins for West Side Story (1961), a redundant trophy in a way since he also shared the Best Director Oscar win due to his choreography and dance direction on that immortal classic (currently being remade). The second was for Onna White for her work on Oliver! (1968).

At any rate, the Chita Rivera Awards, which sprung back to life three years ago (they were once called the Fred and Adele Astaire Awards)  DO give awards to movies for their dance sequences in two separate categories, in addition to their primary focus which is honoring Broadway and Off Broadway achievements...


The "Tom Dick and Harry" dance number is often a highlight of productions of Kiss Me Kate


The nominations are selected by three separate committees (Broadway, Off Broadway, and Film) and honor principal dancers, ensembles, choreographers, and directors. Their nominations this year, which include the Disney sequel Mary Poppins Returns, the romantic comedy Isn't it Romantic?, and are led by the Broadway revival of Kiss Me Kate, follow...

(2018/2019 theater season)
The ceremony is on May 19th and if you can spare $100-$500 for a ticket, you can attend


Special 2019 Honorees
(Non Competitive) 

  • Graciela Daniele - Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Cher, Flody Squarez, Jeffery Seller (producers of "The Cher Show") -Ambassador for the Arts Award
  • George C Scott - SDC Director Award


Nomination Committee: Jonathan Herzog, Rex Reed, Wilhelmina Frankfurt, Joanna Ney, Mary Beth O'Connor, and Andy Sandberg (Last year's film prizes went to The Greatest Showman and the documentary Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer)

Theatrical Release

Mary Poppins Returns

  • Isn't It Romantic? - (Feb 13, 2019) Choreographer: Christopher Gattelli; Assistant Choreographer, Jon Rua
  • Mary Poppins Returns - (Dec 19, 2018) Choreographers: Rob Marshall & John DeLuca; Co-Choreographer, Joey Pizzi; Associate Choreographer, Tara Nichole Hughes, Assistant Choreographer: Marlon Pelayo *WINNER*
  • Shine - (Oct 6, 2018)  Director of Choreography: Anderson Cruz, Choreographers, Charlie Garcia, Osmar Perrones, Grisselle Ponce
  • Swimming with Men - (Dec 7, 2018) Choreographer: Caroline Pope 
  • The Nutcracker and The Four Realms - (Nov 2, 2018)  Choreographer: Liam Scarlett

Film Award, Documentaries   
(Theatrical Release not required, some of these were festivals only)

Bathtubs Over Broadway

  • Ballet Now - (July 20, 2018) Director: Steven Cantor
  • Bathtubs Over Broadway - (Nov 30, 2018)  Director: Dava Whisenent
  • Hot to Trot - (Aug 24, 2018) Director: Gail Freedman
  • If The Dancer Dances - (July 24, 2018)  Director, Maia Weschler 
  • Moving Stories, Lives Transformed By Dance - (Aug 11, 2018)  Director: Rob Fruchtman, Wilderness Films, Producer *WINNER*


Nominating Committee: Wendy Federman, Melinda Atwood, Caitlin Carter, Don Correia, Gary Chryst, Sandy Duncan, Mercedes Ellington, Sylviane Gold, Jonathan Herzog, Anna Kisselgoff, Robert La Fosse, Joe Lanteri, Donna McKechnie, Michael Milton, Mary Beth O'Connor, Laura Penn, Wendy Perron, Lee Roy Reams, Andy Sandberg, and Randy Skinner.


Outstanding Choreography in a Broadway Show:
  • Warren Carlyle, Kiss Me Kate
  • Denis Jones, Tootsie
  • David Neumann, Hadestown *WINNER*
  • Casey Nicholaw, The Prom
  • Sergio Trujillo, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations
Outstanding Male Dancer in a Broadway Show:

  • Corbin Bleu, Kiss Me Kate
  • Rick Faugno, Kiss Me Kate
  • James T. Lane, Kiss Me Kate
  • Jeremy Pope, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations
  • Ephraim Sykes, Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations *WINNER*    
Outstanding Female Dancer in a Broadway Show:

  • Ashley Blair Fitzgerald (Dark Lady) The Cher Show *tie - WINNER*
  • Gabrielle Hamilton (Lead Dancer) Oklahoma! *tie -WINNER*
  • Amber Gray (Persephone) Hadestown
  • Leslie Kritzer (Delia) Beetlejuice
  • Angie Schworer, The Prom
Outstanding Ensemble in a Broadway Show:
  • Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of The Temptations
  • Hadestown
  • King Kong *WINNER*
  • Kiss Me Kate
  • The Cher Show
  • The Prom


Nominating Committee: Jonathan Herzog, Deidre Goodwin, Scott Jovovich, Robert La Fosse, and Michael Milton


Outstanding Choreography
  • Joshua Bergasse, Smokey Joe's Cafe
  • Raja Feather Kelly, If Pretty Hurts, Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka
  • Rick and Jeff Kuperman, Alice By Heart *WINNER*
  • Lorin Latarro, Merrily We Roll Along
  • Shea Sullivan, Neurosis, A Musical That Gets in Your Head
Outstanding Male Dancer

  • Brennan Caldwell, Neurosis, A Musical That Gets in Your Head
  • Zachary Downer, Alice By Heart
  • Brendan Henderson, Cleopatra
  • Jelani Remy, Smokey Joe's Cafe
  • Wesley Taylor, Alice By Heart *WINNER*
Outstanding Female Dancer

  • Emma Degerstedt, Smokey Joe's Cafe
  • Mia Dilena, Alice By Heart
  • Irina Dvorovenko, The Beast in the Jungle *WINNER*
  • Dionne D. Figgins, Smokey Joe's Cafe
  • Naomi Kakuk, The Beast in the Jungle
Outstanding Ensemble
  • Alice By Heart, MCC Theatre
  • Fiddler on the Roof, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene 
  • If Pretty Hurts, Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka, Playwrights Horizons
  • Smokey Joe's Café, Steven Baruch, Mark Routh, Richard Frankel, Tom Viertel *WINNER*
  • Twelfth Night, The Public Theater


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Reader Comments (6)

Onna White was also given a Special Oscar for her choreography of Oliver!

April 26, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

My own choices for the Dance Direction Oscar

1935: Busby Berkeley "Lullaby of Broadway/The Words Are in My Heart" (Gold Diggers of 1935)
1936: Hermes Pan "Bojangles of Harlem" (Swing Time)
1937: Hermes Pan: "Funhouse" (Damsel in Distress) The actual winner

April 26, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterken s.

Shouldn't Cher win everything.

April 26, 2019 | Unregistered Commentermarkgordonuk

mark -- yes.

April 26, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

"Anatomy of a Male Ballet Dancer" - that's gotta be porn, right?

April 27, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterpar

par -- i hope so!

April 27, 2019 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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