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First Annual Chita Rivera Awards Honoring Dance and Dancers

Photographs by: Christopher Duggan

The first annual Chita Rivera Awards, named in honor of 10-time Tony nominee and two-time winner Chita Rivera, who rose from the gypsy ensemble to stardom and one of theater’s most loved personalties, celebrated dance and choreographic excellence. They were hosted by Tony Award winner Bebe Neuwirth at the Hirschfeld Theatre.

Tommy Tune was presented with the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award; Diane Paulus with the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Musical Theater as Director; and entrepreneur Antonio Vendome with the award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and Humanity.

Among theater notables making appearances were tony nominee Melissa Errico, Nikki M. James, Tony honoree Baayork Lee, veteran dancer Carmen de Lavaliade, Tony nominee Robert Fairchild, Tony winner and A Chorus Line nominee Priscilla Lopez, Tony winner Donna McKechnie, Chris Noth, Tony honoree and two-time nominee David Hyde Pierce, Tony nominee Lee Roy Reams, Tony nominee Sergio Trujillo, Tony-nominee Tony Yazback, four-time Tony winner Jerry Zaks, and four-time Tony nominee and Tony winner Karen Ziemba.

There were dance tributes to Rivera from the New York City Ballet, performing “America” from 1957’s West Side Story, her third original Broadway role and the one that first put her on the map, as the fiery Anita; American Dance Machine for the 21st Centrury; the Teen Company; and performances by the casts of A Bronx Tale, Tony-nominated Come from Away, and the recent Sweet Charity revival.

ChitasRFairchildMMooreLaLaLandNominators 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. Nominations were determined by the designated nominating committees.

The Chitas were directed by four-time Tony- nominee Randy Skinner and produced by American Dance Machine for the 21st Century (ADM21), producing artistic director, Nikki Feirt Atkins, in association with Patricia Watt. For more information, visit

  • The Chita Rivera Awards/Nominations and Winners

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

ChitasDPaulusEnsemble, Broadway Show
A Bronx Tale
Come from Away
Hello Dolly!
Holiday Inn
* Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812

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

Female Dancer, 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



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

Female Dancer, 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

Male Dancer, 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

  • Choreography in Film

Anthony Van Laast, Beauty and the Beast
Mandy Moore, La La Land
* Javier de Frutos, London Road
Danielle Flora, Tian Wang, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Susan Glatzer, director, Alive and Kicking
Steven Cantor, director, Dancer
Tomer Heymann, director, Mr. Gaga
*Linda Saffire, Adam Schlesinger, directors, Restless Creature

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