Meet Misha and Michel, winners of the Vilcek Prize 2

Wonderful news from the New York-based Vilcek Foundation, the non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness of immigrant contributions to the American arts and sciences. The 2012 Vilcek Prizes in dance honor immigrant dance artists who have made significant contributions to the field in America.

The Latvia-born Russian national, now a great American, Mikhail Baryshnikov, nabs the top prize, the Vilcek Prize in Dance, recognizing a lifetime of achievement. Award, $100,000. Nice, Misha.

Dancer/choreographer Michel Kouakou, a dance instructor at UCLA — yes, that would be the University of California, Los Angeles — with an whirling global background that began in his native Ivory Coast, has garnered the junior prize, the Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Dance. This award, targeted at a next gen of immigrant artists, carries a $25,000 cash allocation. 

In a nice touch that we love, the arts award (it rotates annually between genres — dance, visual arts, music, etc.) gets paired with a set of awards that recognize achievement in biomedical sciences. Yes, we love the coupling of the arts & sciences! Very progressive thinking, Vilceks!

Four finalists for the Prize for Creative Promise, receiving $5,000 each:

  • French-born Fanny Ara, traditional and modern flamenco performances and choreography;
  • Vietnamese-born Thang Dao, performer and founder of the Thang Dao Dance Company;
  • Italian-born Alice Gosti, a modern choreographer with a provocative piece Spaghetti Co.; and
  • Swedish-born Pontus Lidberg, an interdisciplinary ballet choreographer and performer.

The Vilcek fortune stems from a biotech patent for anti-inflammatory drugs. Right on. 

Congratulations all around~!

Photo, courtesy The Vilcek Foundation

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2 thoughts on “Meet Misha and Michel, winners of the Vilcek Prize

  1. Erica Miner Mar 1,2012 6:16 pm

    Hard to think of Misha as an ‘immigrant dance artist’ after all these decades of his brilliant presence in our midst. But wonderful that he is being recognized. Have been a huge fan ever since I performed in the pit for ABT, and always will be. Right on, Barishnikov!

  2. Gina Buntz Feb 29,2012 8:07 pm

    wonderful about Thang Dao! He is a Los Angeles native, born into a Vietnamese family, he is alum from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts Dance Dept. and choreographed on our students in 2010.

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