2023 Dance Magazine/Harkness Promise Awards

The Harkness Promise Awards, now in their fifth year, supported by the net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony, honor dance artists in the first decade of their choreographic career with an unrestricted $5,000 grant, 40 hours of studio space, and no requirement for a product. We are pleased to announce our 2023 Harkness Promise Awardees: BAYE & ASA/Amadi ‘Baye’ Washington & Sam ‘Asa’ Pratt, and Omar Román De Jesús/BOCA TUYA.

Photo: Umi Akiyoshi
Photo: Richard Termine
Photo: Richard Termine

BAYE & ASA, selected as one of Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch” for 2022, is a company creating movement art projects directed & choreographed by Amadi ‘Baye’ Washington & Sam ‘Asa’ Pratt. They grew up together in New York City, and that shared educational history is the mother of their work. Hip Hop & African dance languages are the foundation of their technique. The rhythms of these techniques inform the way they energetically confront contemporary dance & theater. They use their choreography to create political metaphors, interrogate systemic inequities, and contemporize ancient allegories; building theatrical contexts that celebrate, implicate, and condemn the characters onstage. Their dance work has been presented at The Joyce Theater, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, Pioneer Works, The 92nd Street Y, Baryshnikov Arts Center, Jacob’s Pillow, ODC, Blacklight Summit, Gibney Dance Center, Thread Artist Space in Senegal, Future Dance Festival, Southampton Arts Center, Westbeth, and Battery Dance Festival, while their film work has won numerous awards and has been presented internationally.

Photo: Stephanie Altamura
Photo: Omar Z. Robles

Omar Román De Jesús (Bayamón, Puerto Rico) is a Queer Puertorriqueño choreographer and director of NYC-based dance company BOCA TUYA, dedicated to creating visibility for emerging LatinX/a/o leaders in the arts. He is the inaugural Baryshnikov Arts Center Fellow at Kaatsbaan, a 2022 Princess Grace Award Winner in Choreography, a 2022 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Choreography, a 2022 Palm Desert Choreography Festival Grand Prize Winner, and a 2020 Recipient of The Ann & Weston Hicks Choreography Fellowship at Jacob’s Pillow. His work has been commissioned by the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Ballet Hispánico, Ballet Collective, Limón 2, MOVE/NYC, Bruce Wood Dance, Jacob Jonas The Company, Joffrey Ballet Concert Group, Whim W’him, Parsons Dance, and several universities and arts high schools. Over the past five years, he has toured internationally and has presented work domestically in New York, Georgia, Washington, Pennsylvania, California. Most recently, “Papagayos,” commissioned for Ballet Hispánico, premiered at New York City Center and was presented by the 2023 American Dance Festival.

2022 Harkness Promise Awards: Kayla Farrish and Johnnie Cruise Mercer

The Harkness Promise Awards, which offer a $5,000 grant and 40 hours of rehearsal space for innovative young choreographers in the first decade of professional work, will go to Kayla Farrish and Johnnie Cruise Mercer. This award, conferred in partnership with the Harkness Foundation for Dance, is funded by net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony.

Photo: Stephanie Crousillat

Kayla Farrish/Decent Structures Arts is an emerging company combining filmmaking, storytelling, dance theater performance, and sound score. The company has been commissioned by ODC Theater, Gibney, Little Island, Louis Armstrong House Museum, Danspace, Pepatian/BAAD! and beyond. Her residencies include Gallim, Gibney, BAC, Keshet MSE, BAX, Petronio, among others. In 2021, she created “Broken Record” with Brandon Coleman (Little Island), co-directed Melanie Charles Y’ll D’nt Care Abt Black Women Film, Saul Williams’/NYLA Motherboard Suites solo, Roster with Melanie Charles (Four/Four), and Martyr’s Fiction Feature Film. She has received recognition like: Bessie- Outstanding Production, Top 2021 Performances, Sundance Uprise Grant and others. In 2022, she collaborates with various artists and festivals.. Kayla is currently a rehearsal director at Sleep NoMore NYC and adjunct faculty at NYU Tisch.

Photo: Tony Turner

A 2021 Princess Grace Award Recipient in Choreography, Johnnie Cruise Mercer is a queer- black think-maker; a choreographer, educator, impresario, and social entrepreneur based in New York City. In 2021, Johnnie was nominated for two Bessies NYC Dance and Performance Awards: Outstanding Breakthrough Choreographer, and Outstanding Production (for his choreography/direction on _AShadow Prince. As an educator, he facilitates within the New York Public School system through The Leadership Program, a mentorship-based organization that uses art to foster/cultivate leadership qualities. Johnnie is the founding producer and company director of TheRedProject/NYC (TRPNYC), a multi-disciplinary ensemble of artists dedicated to the study of movement philosophy and its use towards building communal spaces for black/other process, documentation, and investigation.

2022 Dance Magazine honorees

Press Release (PDF) >

2021 Harkness Promise Awards: Alethea Pace and Yin Yue

The Harkness Promise Awards, which offer a $5,000 grant and 40 hours of rehearsal space for innovative choreographers in their first decade of professional work, is funded by net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony.

Photo: Whitney Browne

Alethea Pace is a Bronx-based multidisciplinary choreographer and performer. A former Arthur Aviles Typical Theatre company member, her work has been supported by BAAD!, Dancing While Black, Pregones Theater, New Dance Alliance, New York Live Arts and the 92Y. She is committed to creating work in and with her community that is rooted in social justice, born out of resilience and made in spite of the obstacles facing artists (and people) of color.

Photo: Paul B. Goode

Yin Yue, artistic director of YY Dance Company, has taught her signature FoCo Technique around the world. Her company has toured to Germany and China, and presented at SummerStage, BAM Fisher, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival Inside/Out and many other venues in the U.S. As a choreographer, Yue has received commissions from Martha Graham Dance Company, Philadelphia Ballet, Limón Dance Company, Gibney Company, BalletX, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Hubbard Street 2 and many others.

Press Release (PDF) > 

Dance Magazine Awards 2020 & The Harkness Promise Award

Meet the 2020 Dance Magazine Award Honorees

September 21, 2020

Kyle Marshall and Marjani Forté-Saunders

The Harkness Promise Awards, which offer a $5,000 grant, 40 hours of rehearsal space and ongoing mentorship for innovative young choreographers in their first decade of presenting professional work, will go to Kyle Marshall and Marjani Forté-Saunders. These awards, given in partnership with the Harkness Foundation for Dance, are funded by net proceeds from the Dance Magazine Awards ceremony.

Marshall has presented his company Kyle Marshall Choreography at BAM New Wave Festival, Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out, Joe’s Pub, and NYC Summerstage. Forté-Saunders, a former member of Urban Bush Women, is currently collaborating with her partner, composer Everett Asis Saunders, as 7NMS; the pair also directs ART & POWER, an emerging platform for artists, writers, scientists, spiritualists and scholars, dedicated to Black purpose and innovation.

Check out Dance Magazine’s December issue to learn more about each of these incredible artists. A ceremony to celebrate them will take place virtually on Monday, December 7, with performances and presentations for each honoree. For ticket information, visit

Press Release (PDF) > 

Dance Magazine Awards 2019 & The Harkness Promise Award


Hailing from Centerville, Iowa, Bobbi Jene Smith is an alumna of the Juilliard School, North Carolina School of the Arts, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. From 2005-2014 she was a member of the Batsheva Dance Company under the artistic direction of Ohad Naharin. The 2017 film Bobbi Jene, which followed Smith’s trajectory of leaving Batsheva to create her own work, swept the Tribeca Film Festival documentary category. Her choreography has been presented by numerous dance companies, colleges and festivals in the U.S. and abroad. Smith’s film and video work includes Annihilation, MA, and Yossi. She stars in and choreographed the upcoming feature films Mari and Aviva. Smith has been a certified GAGA teacher for the past 13 years and has taught Ohad Naharin’s repertory in schools and universities worldwide. She regularly teaches at the Juilliard School, NYU and UArts.


Caleb Teicher is a NYC-based dancer and choreographer specializing in American jazz dance traditions. He is a 2019 New York City Center Choreographic Fellow, a 2019 Bessie Award nominee in three categories, a 2019 recipient of NEFA’s National Dance Project Production Grant, one of Dance Magazine’s 2012 “25 to Watch”, and a 2011 Bessie Award Winner for Outstanding Individual Performance. Teicher began his career as a founding member of Dorrance Dance and also danced with The Chase Brock Experience, The Bang Group, Syncopated City Dance Company, and many others. Since founding Caleb Teicher & Company in 2015, Teicher’s creative work includes engagements and commissions from The Joyce Theater, New York City Center, Works & Process @ The Guggenheim, The Kennedy Center (with Ben Folds & the National Symphony Orchestra), Regina Spektor’s residency on Broadway, and touring in the US and abroad. He teaches at tap and jazz festivals.

Press Release (PDF)  >

Dance Magazine Awards 2018 & The Harkness Promise Award

Press Release (PDF) >

Dance Magazine Announces a New Partnership With The Harkness Foundation for Dance on Emerging Choreographers Initiative 

September 14, 2017

Dance Magazine is pleased to announce that the annual Dance Magazine Awards, the most prestigious awards event in dance, will make the Harkness Foundation for Dance the beneficiary of the proceeds from the event, which will be held on Monday, December 4, at the Ailey Citigroup Theater (405 West 55th Street) in Manhattan. The Harkness Foundation for Dance, a leading donor to dance, will in turn designate the proceeds to a newly created award to assist choreographers in their first decade of professional work.

”I am thrilled that we are able, in partnership with the Harkness Foundation, to provide tangible support to the dance community. I could think of no better way to leverage the power of Dance Magazine, now celebrating its 90th anniversary.” — Frederic M. Seegal, owner and CEO, Dance Media Publications, LLC

The Dance Magazine Awards recognize outstanding men and women whose contributions have left a lasting impact on dance. The tradition dates back to 1954. The new Harkness Promise Award seeks to shine a light on the other end of the spectrum, recognizing emerging young artists for the promise of their artistic work, and also for their innovative thinking about how to be an effective artist-citizen who positively impacts dance and the broader community through performance, education, organization, activism or other means.

The Harkness Promise Award will include a $5,000 unrestricted grant, up to 40 hours of studio space within the grant year, and ongoing consulting and mentorship with Joan Finkelstein, the foundation’s executive director. A performance project may result from this support, but is not a condition of the award. The first recipient(s) will be announced in the fall of 2018.

“The Harkness Foundation for Dance is honored to partner with the dance field’s indisputable magazine of record, Dance Magazine. The Foundation is excited about this new initiative, which will extend our ability to support the future of the dance field.” — Joan Finkelstein, Executive Director, The Harkness Foundation for Dance

The winners of the 60th annual Dance Magazine Awards will be announced in the October 2017 issue of Dance Magazine. To facilitate the success of the awards event and fundraising for the Harkness Promise Award, a gala committee is in formation.

About Dance Magazine: For 90 years, Dance Magazine has provided insight and practical information, as well as news, interviews and beautiful, original photography. Dance Magazine illuminates the art form on a global scale, often breaking ground with fiercely personal accounts of life as a dancer. Dance Magazine is published by Dance Media Publications, LLC, whose properties also include: Dance Spirit®, Dance Teacher®, Pointe® and Dance Retailer NewsTM, plus associated websites and apps.

About The Harkness Foundation for Dance: The Harkness Foundation for Dance is a private grant-making foundation dedicated to invigorating and supporting the dance art form, predominantly in New York City. Since 1959, the Harkness name has been synonymous with dance philanthropy. The Foundation carries forward the lifelong dedication to the dance art form of the great American dance patron Rebekah Harkness. Over many decades, this support has taken the form of funding, rehearsal and theater space, technical assistance, and guidance—an unrivaled legacy that has touched countless dance artists and companies in all dance styles and genres. With a broad focus that spans dance creation, presentation, education, medicine and other vital services to the dance field, from 1986 to the present the Harkness Foundation has contributed over $30 million to more than 560 organizations across the industry.

Paul Taylor American Modern Dance and 
the Harkness Foundation for Dance Launch Season With
 “Harkness Dance Access Night” – 
All Seats $5.00 on March 7 – An Additional Night of Dance Added to the 2017 Season of 
Paul Taylor American Modern Dance

February 10, 2017

A special performance on March 7 – Harkness Dance Access Night, sponsored by The Harkness Foundation for Dance, has been added to the 2017 Season of Paul Taylor American Modern Dance (PTAMD) at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. All seats to the performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company will cost just $5. Tickets to the performance, featuring Paul Taylor’s classics Airs, Black Tuesday and Syzygy, will go on sale Monday, February 13 at 10am. There are no facility fees or convenience charges for these tickets.

“Mr. Taylor and Paul Taylor American Modern Dance are proud to have The Harkness Foundation for Dance as our sponsoring partner for this year’s specially priced night of dance,” said John Tomlinson, PTAMD Executive Director. “The Harkness Dance Access Night makes a magical night of Mr. Taylor’s dances available to friends and fans, old and new.”

The Company continues to offer tickets for the entire New York Season for as little as $10. Other ticket prices range from $30 to $175 (visit Premium $175 seats include an invitation to the Patrons Lounge during intermissions.

“The Harkness Foundation is proud to support PTAMD’s efforts to make it affordable for everyone, regardless of means, to come to Lincoln Center and experience the excitement of these brilliant Taylor masterworks,” said Joan Finkelstein, Executive Director of The Harkness Foundation for Dance. “We hope that this welcoming initiative brings new audiences to modern dance.”

The Harkness Foundation for Dance Announces $5M in Major Grants, the Largest Sum to Be Given in the Foundation’s History

January 12, 2015

Over the next decade, The Harkness Foundation for Dance will contribute $1 million each to five organizations of prominent importance to the dance field. The grantees are the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), The Joyce Theater, New York City Center, the 92nd Street Y (92Y), and NYU Langone Medical Center’s Hospital for Joint Diseases (HJD), which houses the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary.

The funding will provide leadership support for dance presentation in BAM’s three theaters, which include the Howard Gilman Opera House, the BAM Harvey Theater, and the BAM Fisher. The grant will also contribute to an annual Harkness Dance Residency at the BAM Fisher.

The Joyce Theater will inaugurate a new performance series entitled American Dance Platform, dedicated to the late Theodore S. Bartwink, the Foundation’s former longtime Executive Director and both a Harkness and Joyce trustee, who passed away on December 3, 2014. In addition, funds will support the Joyce Unleashed program of off-site performances featuring small dance companies, piloted successfully in the 2013-14 season.

New York City Center will complete renovations on its three studios, naming the Harkness Studio (4th floor), and a new Harkness Fund for Dance will enhance City Center’s resources for dance presenting, commissions, live musical accompaniment, and festivals.

The 92Y’s Harkness Dance Center will reshape and expand its educational and presenting programs, dedicating the annual 92Y Harkness Dance Festival to Mr. Bartwink, whose encouragement and the Harkness naming gift inaugurated the festival in 1994. The Y will also initiate a three-tier dance artist residency program, supporting a mid-career artist, a legacy company, and an emerging artist.

At the Hospital for Joint Diseases a new boardroom —named in honor of William A. Perlmuth, the Foundation’s Chairman and a former Chairman of HJD—will function as a state-of-the-art, central hub for education and networking for the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries and the hospital. The boardroom will serve as a virtual home for a think tank of experts in dance medicine, and, via its audio-visual connection with the operating suite, will be used to train orthopaedic residents in dance-specific surgical techniques. A comprehensive new series of online courses on dance injury and treatment will also be developed and made available at low cost to medical professionals, dancers, parents and dance teachers.

Mr. Perlmuth and Mr. Bartwink, the Foundation’s other trustees Jody Gottfried Arnhold and Etta Brandman, and Executive Director Joan Finkelstein decided to significantly increase Harkness’ sustained support to these five longstanding partner organizations because their high quality work addresses the historic mission of the Foundation‘s founding patrons Rebekah Harkness and William Hale Harkness: to invigorate the art form by supporting dance creation, dance presentation, dance education, and dance medicine.

In Memoriam: William A. Perlmuth, Nov. 21, 1929–Nov. 24, 2017

The Harkness Foundation for Dance mourns the passing of our longtime Chairman and dear friend Bill Perlmuth, whose dedication to supporting the dance field over many decades made a significant impact on countless dance organizations.  Mr. Perlmuth was of counsel to the law firm Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP since 1997, a partner from 1962-1996, and a member of the firm’s Executive Committee from 1976 to 1994. He was previously with Cravath, Swaine & Moore and was a member of New York State and City Bar Associations. Mr. Perlmuth received his LL.B from Columbia University Law School where he was a Stone Scholar, Columbia Law Review Editor, and a member of Kent Court and Phi Delta Phi. He received his A.B. from Wilkes College. In addition to the Harkness Foundation, Mr. Perlmuth was a Trustee of the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases (Chairman of the Board 1996-2007); NYU Langone Medical Center; Wilkes University; School of American Ballet; Brooklyn Academy of Music; New York City Center; The Aeroflex Foundation; and The Weininger Foundation. Our deepest condolences to his wife Patty and his daughters Lyn and Diane and their families. He will be profoundly missed.

Theodore S Bartwink JPEGIn Memoriam: Theodore S. Bartwink, 1928-2014

December 4, 2014
The Harkness Foundation for Dance deeply mourns the passing of its longtime beloved Executive Director and Trustee Ted Bartwink on December 3, 2014. A graduate of Long Island University and Brooklyn Law School, he accepted a position as business manager for Rebekah Harkness and assisted in establishing the Foundation, which he led from 1968 until his retirement last year in significant projects and grant making to support the dance field. During his tenure, he oversaw operations of the Harkness Ballet, the Harkness Theatre, and Harkness House for Ballet Arts, and initiated programs such as the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, and the 92Y Harkness Dance Festival. He was a board member of the Joyce Theater Foundation and board president of the Early Stages Program for Children of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting; held numerous dance organization advisory board positions; and was a member of the National Association of Schools of Dance and the League of American Theaters and Producers. Mr. Bartwink received honors from Ballet Hispanico, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Career Transition for Dancers, the Dance Library of Israel, the 92nd Street Y, and NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases, and will be honored by Dance Theatre of Harlem in February. The Foundation extends sincerest condolences to Ted’s wife Barbara and his family. His wisdom, humor, kindness and dedication to the dance art form will be profoundly missed.


In Memoriam: Susan C. Goldman, 1953-2016

February 13, 2016

The Harkness Foundation for Dance mourns the death of Susan Goldman, who passed away on February 12, 2016. Susan served the Foundation faithfully and with distinction for 25 years as assistant to the Executive Director, bookkeeper and office manager. Her welcoming manner, competence, intelligence and wit were well known to our many grantees. We extend our heartfelt condolences to her family. She will be deeply missed.

Harkness Foundation Executive Director Theodore S. Bartwink Announces Retirement

January 29, 2014

The Harkness Foundation for Dance announced the retirement of its beloved long-time Executive Director, Theodore S. Bartwink as of January 31, 2014. Mr. Bartwink, 85 years old, is continuing physical therapy and rehabilitation from the grievous injuries suffered when run down by a car near his home in Kew Gardens, Queens, NY in February 2013.

Mr. Bartwink has served as Executive Director and a Trustee of the Foundation since 1968. He will continue to be a member of the Board of Trustees. In addition to his affiliation with the Harkness Foundation, Mr. Bartwink serves on the Board of Directors of The Joyce Theatre Foundation and the Early Stages Program for Children of the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting. He also is on the advisory board for a series of other non-profit arts organizations including Career Transition for Dancers and Harkness Center for Dance Injuries at NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. He has been honored by Ballet Hispanico, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dance Library of Israel, The 92nd Street Y and Career Transition for Dancers.

William Perlmuth, the Chair of the Foundation’s Board said “Ted’s retirement is indeed a sad day for the entire dance community, which admired his knowledge of dance and his experience in providing support for dance companies, choreographers and venues of all sizes and styles of dance. He did so with understanding, good humor, compassion and grace. We look forward to Ted’s continuing participation as a Trustee.

Our sadness over Ted Bartwink’s retirement is mitigated by our good fortune in having recruited Joan Finkelstein as his successor beginning April 7th of this year.”

From 1992-2004 Ms. Finkelstein (BFA, MFA, NYU Tisch) was the Director of the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, supervising classes and performances for children and adults, as well as the Harkness Dance Festival professional performance series, the Breaking Ground dance lectures, and the Dance Education Laboratory teacher training program. Since 2004, she has been the Director of Dance for the New York City Department of Education, overseeing the creation of the NYC Dance Blueprint standards and implementing ongoing citywide professional development programs. Ms. Finkelstein is a member of the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO), Dance USA and serves on the “BESSIES” New York Dance and Performance Awards Committee and the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards. She received NDEO’S Leadership Award in 2009, and was honored by La Mama in 2011 for her contributions to the dance field. She danced professionally with a number of modern dance companies and on Broadway and has received numerous choreographic commissions and awards. She has taught dance to all age groups both locally and nationally for many years. Mr. Perlmuth added, “Ted and I have known and worked closely with Joan for many years, since she became the Director of what is now known as the 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, which we have helped fund. We are confident that she will continue to enhance the Harkness Foundation name and reputation as the leading supporter of dance in the New York area”.

The Harkness Foundation for Dance is the successor by merger to the Harkness Ballet Foundation formed in 1959 by Rebekah Harkness, the generous and well-known dance patron who died in 1982, and the William Hale Harkness Foundation (named for her late husband). The Harkness Foundation for Dance makes annual contributions to most of the major dance venues in the New York City metro area, including the 92nd Street Y, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Joyce Theater, New York City Center, Lincoln Center and Jacob’s Pillow; to dance service organizations, such as the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries and Career Transition for Dancers; to youth programs at the School of American Ballet, National Dance Institute and Dancing Classrooms; and to over 100 dance companies. Over the last ten years, such contributions have totaled in excess of $10 million dollars.