Theater Icons John Kander, Bonnie Comley, and Stewart F. Lane Were Honored with the 2023 Chita Rivera Awards

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Photo Credit: Annie Watt Photography

The 2023 Chita Rivera Awards honored esteemed individuals and productions for their outstanding contributions to the world of dance and theater. The recipients included John Kander, BroadwayHD founders Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, Jeffrey L. Page, Stephen Hoggett, Robyn Hurder, Jess LeProtto, Maddie Love, Gaby Diaz, Ryan Steele, Andy Blankenbuehler, “13: The Musical,” “Everybody Dance,” as well as the ensembles of Bob Fosse’s “Dancin'” and “New York, New York.”

At this year’s Chita Rivera Awards, the sold-out Skirball Center audience witnessed a remarkable moment as 90-year-old Chita took to the stage to honor her close friend and mentor, the 96-year-old John Kander, with the prestigious Chita Rivera Lifetime Achievement Award. The audience erupted in cheers, witnessing the deep mutual respect, admiration, and love shared between these icons of the dance and theater world. The Chita Rivera Awards ceremony itself was a truly extraordinary event, capturing a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

These prestigious awards pay tribute to the legendary theater icon, Chita Rivera, who holds the distinction of being one of the most Tony-nominated performers in history, boasting ten nominations, two Tony Award wins, and a special Lifetime Achievement Tony. Chita’s journey in dance began at the tender age of nine when she embarked on training as a ballet dancer. She later earned a scholarship at the esteemed School of American Ballet, studying under the guidance of George Balanchine. Her professional career commenced in her teenage years, leading her to star in over twenty Broadway shows and tour the world, originating iconic characters in musicals like “West Side Story,” “The Rink,” “Can-Can,” “Jerry’s Girls,” “Chicago,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” “Guys and Dolls,” and more.

John Kander, an acclaimed composer, was also honored at the Chita Rivera Awards. Having composed scores for fifteen musicals, including the renowned “Cabaret” and “Chicago,” which were subsequently adapted into highly acclaimed films, Kander’s impact on the industry is immeasurable. His song “New York, New York” has become an anthem for the city and serves as the title song for the new Broadway show with additional lyrics by Lin Manuel Miranda. Throughout his career, Kander enjoyed a four-decade-long collaboration with Fred Ebb, resulting in numerous nominations and awards, including Tonys, Emmys, and Academy Awards.

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Photo Credit: Annie Watt Photography

The distinguished Chita Rivera Ambassador for the Arts Award was presented by Tony-winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell to BroadwayHD and accepted by founders Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley. Lane and Comley have won nine Tony Awards and have over forty Tony nominations. BroadwayHD received this honor in recognition of its unwavering commitment to sharing the best of Broadway dance with a global audience. Mitchell expressed his admiration for Lane and Comley, stating that BroadwayHD provides audiences with a front-row seat, revitalizes deserving shows, expands the reach of theater to new markets, and preserves the art form for those unable to experience it firsthand.

Jeffrey L. Page, co-director and choreographer of the Broadway Revival of “1776,” received the prestigious Douglas and Ethel Watt Critics’ Choice Award. This accolade, named in honor of the longtime Daily News theater critic and his wife, recognizes outstanding work that falls outside the traditional award categories.

The NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts served as the venue for the esteemed 2023 Chita Rivera Awards, produced by Joe Lanteri, Founder and Executive Director of the New York City Dance Alliance Foundation Inc., in collaboration with Patricia Watt. The theater was graced by special presenters such as Bebe Neuwirth, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Jerry Mitchell, Lee Roy Reams, Jordan Roth, Derek Hough, Tony Yazback, Charlotte d’Amboise, and Riki Kane Larimer, all present to pay tribute to the remarkable dance and choreographic excellence witnessed during the 2023 theater season. The Awards were expertly hosted by Jared Grimes, known for his role in “Funny Girl,” who opened the evening with a captivating song and tap dance performance that earned a standing ovation from the enthusiastic sold-out crowd. The evening’s grand finale featured a breathtaking performance by 36 dancers from Nancy Chippendale’s Dance Studio.

The Chita Rivera Awards are brought to life through the collaborative efforts of Joe Lanteri and Patricia Watt. The New York City Dance Alliance, established in the early fall of 1993, served as the foundation for this remarkable endeavor. Over the past three decades, the New York City Dance Foundation, a nonprofit organization, emerged with the goal of raising awareness about the performing arts and investing in the future generation of professional performers. Thanks to the support of organizations like Dance Magazine and the Henry Buel Foundation, NYCDF has awarded over four million dollars in college scholarships.

For a comprehensive list of nominees and winners from the 2023 Chita Rivera Awards or to learn more about this prestigious event, please visit

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