The A.W.A.R.D. Show is presented in a really unique format, with work by the twelve finalists in the competition divided between three consecutive nights. Last night's presentation was the first of the three shows that leads up to Saturday's finale, where three works, one from each evening, are presented again to complete the selection of the award winner. Wednesday's show included works in four very different styles. The first was the duet "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" by Jacqueline Stewart, which was followed by an innovative solo work entitled "Sometimes/Always", both choreographed and danced by Alicia Wilson. The third piece in the program was an intriguing excerpt from the ballet "Curiosity" by Mike Gosney, performed by seven dancers, in an interwoven series of solos, duets and trio. The final work of the evening was Kate Corby's imaginative "Go", which was choreographed in collaboration with the dancers Erin Kilmurray, Emily Miller and Anna Normann.
Stewart's "It's Not Enough To Close Your Eyes" was selected for Saturday evening's final by vote of the audience, a carefully-managed process that was directed by The Dance Center's Bonnie Brooks. The procedure was clearly designed to make fairness a priority, and it included a very balanced panel discussion between the audience and the choreographers, followed by a vote by anonymous ballot. Whether it's really possible to choose a "best" or even a "better" in artistic endeavor is a rich question; at aotpr.com we addressed some aspects of this subject in an article on the very successful performances by Extensions Dance at the A.D.A. last April ("Extensions Dance: How Artists Compete"), and there is certainly much more to consider. But there is no question that seeing the four performances, and then hearing the ideas expressed by the choreographers in response to the audience discussion, had one effect entirely consistent with the goals of the program: it certainly made you much more interested in learning more about the works of each of the featured choreographers.