Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Princess Grace Award boosts dancer and NCDT

N.C. Dance Theatre's Pete Walker landed an award that not only brings recognition to him, but pays off for NCDT.

Walker, who joined the company last season, is among 21 recipients of this year's Princess Grace Awards. The prizes, given out by the Princess Grace Foundation-USA, go to creators and performers in theater, dance and film. The New York-based charity views that awards as a continuation of the actress-turned-princess' work encouraging young artists.

The award "gives me an overwhelming sensation that dance is the right thing for me to do in my life," Walker said in a statement released by NCDT.

The award includes a cash fellowship for Walker and a grant to NCDT to help with its general operations. The grants to cultural groups that employ the winners range from $5,000 to $30,000 a foundation spokesman said, but she wouldn't specify NCDT's amount.

Walker, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., studied at the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in Connecticut. (For you trivia buffs, Connecticut is nicknamed the Nutmeg State.) NCDT hired him last fall for its NCDT 2 entry-level company, then promoted him to the main company in mid-season after a dancer stepped down. He quickly made his mark though the dynamism he injected into such works as Jiri Bubenicek's "Le Souffle de l'Esprit," (pictured above; photo by Christopher Record) and Twyla Tharp's "The Golden Section."

NCDT's Alessandra Ball received a Princess Grace Award in 2005. The same year, an award for choreography went to Uri Sands, who had previously been a member of NCDT -- and of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre before that.

Walker and the other honorees will pick up their awards during a black-tie gala at New York's Cipriani hotel on Nov. 1.