Keith Hennessy wins a Bessie!

2009 Bessie Award & Thank you speech
October 18, 2010
Symphony Space, NYC

After an intro by HT Chen and a short video of Crotch by Charles Dennis, Yvonne Rainer read this text written by Ishmael Houston-Jones:

For combining virtuosic improvisation, the history of Western art in seven minutes, and playful, sexy, shamanistic trickery that both enchanted and terrified at Dance Theater Workshop in 2009, a NY Dance and Performance Award goes to Keith Hennessy for his work Crotch (all the Joseph Beuys references in the world cannot heal the pain, confusion, regret, cruelty, betrayal or trauma…)


Thanks everybody. It’s a funny decision you make. I grew up in Canada, I wanted to be a dancer, so I thought I had to move to New York and I accidentally hitchhiked across the country to San Francisco and never left. That was the right place for me to be but you always want to be at least a little bit in the New York dance family and this is really important to be seen here, so thank you.

For all those people who have been turned down as many times as I have for funding, I want you to know that I made this piece for fifty dollars in seven days.

It takes a million people to make a solo so I want to thank
Stephanie Maher and Uli Kaiser who run Ponderosa a dance research site and summer camp in rural Germany where a draft of this work was first presented.

I want to thank Georg Kindler, the resident beekeeper, philosopher and Joseph Beuys scholar at Ponderosa for his lecture on Joseph Beuys on which the central text of the piece is based.

I want to thank the people at L’Arsenic in Lausanne who supported a short residency and the premiere of Crotch.

In New York at DTW, I want to thank Carla Peterson for trusting me and for following through, also to the staff who were super great to me and the people who were the best there were actually the interns, who make so little, do all the work and then run the show.
Big thanks to Ryan Eggensperger, who was my NY stage manager and onstage assistant.
To Don Shewey, my brother whose NY apartment is my home.
To Trajal Harrell, Timothy Murray and everyone who worked to feature my work in Movement Research Journal.
To Jonah Bokaer for doing the early bookings of improvs that Carla saw.
To Ishmael HJ who just inspires me and keeps me coming to NY.

In SF, I want to thank to my fiscal sponsor CounterPULSE and my assistant Julie Phelps.

To Joseph Beuys – you are my Andy Warhol.

And finally thanks to Seth Eisen because if he hadn’t loved me and left me I wouldn’t have felt the intensity of sadness, despair and shame that inspired the making of this piece.

Video of the award and thank you speech, posted by Don Shewey:


To see a full list of 2009/2010 awardees: