Los Angeles Times - DANCE: A stellar fete for filmed feet

By Victoria Looseleaf 
Special to The Times

(Oct. 14, 2004) Dance may be the most ephemeral of art forms, but when captured on film or video, it can live happily ever after. Celebrating the art and craft of making dance for the camera is the raison d'être for the American Choreography Awards, now in their 10th year. In addition to screening film clips, the show features an eclectic array of performers Sunday at the Orpheum Theatre. 

The event includes presenters Ben Vereen, Carmen Electra, Lainie Kazan and Jean-Claude Van Damme (he's not likely, however, to do the splits between two chairs). Among the performers are the Diavolo Dance Theater, which will look to rock the house with an excerpt from "Trajectoire" on a rolling boat-like structure, and Alvin Ailey dancer and former Angeleno Matthew Rushing, whose leaps often seem helium-infused. 

Clips from all categories — commercials, television, short and feature films, fight choreography and music videos — will be shown. The ceremony benefits the Academy of Dance on Film. 

Among this year's honorees are Los Angeles County School for the Arts artistic director Ka-Ron Brown Lehman (the Educator Award), the late Walt Disney (his nephew Roy will accept the Innovator Award) and Kenny Ortega, who takes home the Career Achievement trophy. 

Ortega's 30 years in the business include choreographing 1987's "Dirty Dancing" and the 2002 Opening Ceremonies of the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. 

Ortega, 54, cites Gene Kelly as a key influence: "Gene mentored, tutored, supported, guided and directed me. He also shared his knowledge of creating choreography for the camera."