Maureen Lee Lenker

Maureen Lee Lenker

Maureen is a writer, actor, and director. She currently writes about arts & entertainment for Neon Tommy, as well as a monthly column about groundbreaking women in Hollywood for Ms. In the Biz. She holds a B.A. in History and Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California, as well as a Master’s in British History from the University of Oxford. Because she doesn’t have enough degrees, she is also currently working towards a M.A. in Arts Journalism at USC. Theatrically, she can mostly be found at the Antaeus Theater, where she is a proud affiliate.

The Horton Awards to Showcase Emerging Dance Artists at Annual Ceremony

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by MAUREEN LEE LENKER

[dropcap]On[/dropcap] Saturday, June 27, the Dance Resource Center (DRC) will present the Lester Horton Awards — dedicated to celebrating the Southern California dance community and those who help sustain it. The awards will be part of a two-day event called Home Grown, hosted in partnership with Pentacle, a management support organization for dance and theater companies.

Home Grown is open to all choreographers and dance companies based in Los Angeles County to showcase their work for the purpose of building and expanding their audience. It will feature new work from Danza Floricanto/USA, choreographed by their Artistic Director, Gema Sandoval, as well as pieces from five emerging companies: szalt, OdDancity, No)one. Art House, The Assembly, and The Sunland Dancers.

This two-day celebration of emerging artists will conclude with the Horton Awards ceremony, honoring those who make dance thrive in Southern California. This year, the DRC will award three Community Leader Appreciation Awards to local dance supporters, advocates, educators and funders, as well as two Artist Appreciation Awards to local artists who have propelled the field.

The Horton Awards have been an integral part of the Dance Resource Center’s programming since 1987, but they were absent from the DRC’s calendar for four years. They re-emerged last year as a partnership with Dance Camera West in Grand Park. Prior to their four-year hiatus, the Horton Awards were exclusively awarded for artistic merit, but the Dance Resource Center also wanted to recognize those who make contributions behind the scenes.

Alex Mathews, Executive Director of the DRC, views the re-imagined Horton Awards as an exciting opportunity to bring people in the dance community together: “It’s structured very differently from years past, so moving forward, [we’re] not only celebrating live performance and dance, but really celebrating those who are making contributions in noticeable ways, and yet, are not always outwardly acknowledged.”

Community leaders who sustain and advance the arts do not often have the chance to interact directly with the artists they support, and the Horton Awards are a celebratory opportunity to come together.

This also marks the first year the awards will be integrated into a performance event, allowing the DRC to actively showcase live performance in conjunction with the ceremony.

“The intention is to also make this an all-inclusive event.” says Mathews, “And by having it be multi-layered with performance and in partnership with another organization, [it] elevates the quality of this event… Because of DRC’s history and [the] longevity of the ceremony, the intention is to keep enriching and validating the experience for the community.”

The DRC and Pentacle have been working together in a strategic alliance since July 1, 2014. This collaboration on Home Grown and the Horton Awards marks a transition as the DRC prepares to absorb Pentacle on July 1, which will include some staff members and programming features.

Mathews, whose new title under this merger will be Associate Director and Director of Programming, says the Horton Awards collaboration is an opportunity to “enthusiastically exclaim about this change that will only strengthen this organization.” Together, Pentacle and the DRC will become one entity that will continue to serve the LA dance community and make dance more visible in Los Angeles.


HOME GROWN, including the Horton Awards, will take place June 26 and 27 at the Bootleg Theater.

The Community Leader Appreciation Awardees are Ann Haskins (nominated by the DRC Board of Directors); Councilman Bernard Parks (nominated by the Debbie Allen Dance Academy/Tap Fest); and Liza Bercovici (nominated by The Wooden Floor). The Artist Appreciation Awardees are Meg Wolfe and Jackie Lopez & Leigh Foaad.

If you’re a dancer in Los Angeles, take the DanceMapLA survey by June 30th and be counted.

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