Black Excellence award winners announced in theater, dance, music and more – Chicago Sun-Times

The 2023 Black Excellence Awards ceremony Monday evening showcased a broad range of talent in the city’s Black arts scene.

The awards were presented by the Black Arts & Culture Alliance of Chicago, a nonprofit that offers artists resources ranging from workshops to mentorship in theater, dance, music, literature, technology, film and visual arts.

The 23rd annual award ceremony was held at The Black Ensemble Theater, 4450 N. Clark St.

Here is a list of award winners.

  • Outstanding Dance Production — Praize Production Inc., “Call Her by Name”
  • Outstanding Choreography — Tracey Franklin, “Freedom” at Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre
  • Special Recognition: Outstanding Dance Production — “Refraction” at Hubbard Street Dance
  • Special Recognition: Outstanding Producer — The Chicago Black Dance Legacy Project 
  • Outstanding Theater Production — Black Ensemble Theater, “Reasons: A Tribute to Earth, Wind and Fire”
  • Outstanding Director — John Ruffin, “Imitation of Life” at Theater 47
  • Outstanding Actor — Darren Jones, “Ezekiel’s Wheel” at MPAACT
  • Outstanding Actress — Jyreika Guest, “How Blood Go” at Congo Square Theatre
  • Special Recognition, Producing Advocate, Theater: Outstanding Performer — Gabrielle Lott-Rogers, “Boulevard of Bold Dreams” at Timeline Theater
  • Special Recognition, Producing Advocate, Theater: Outstanding Director — Marti Gobel, “Is God Is” at A Red Orchid Theatre 
  • Outstanding Jazz Musician — Yvonne Gage
  • Outstanding R&B Musician — Jimmy Burns Band
  • Outstanding Film Direction — Marquis Simmons, “Broke Down Drone”
  • Outstanding Film — “Hindsight,” directed by Kimberly M. Vaughn and produced by her production company Suburban Blvck Girl Production
  • Outstanding Non-Fiction Work — Lowell Thompson, author of “African Americans in Chicago (Images of America)”
  • Outstanding Fiction Work — Damone Bester, author of “Mendel: Sometimes Ya Gotta Run for Your Life”
  • Outstanding Poetry Work — Growing Concerns Poetry Collective artists: McKenzie Chinn, Mykele Deville and Jeffrey Michael Austin for “First You Need A Body”
  • Outstanding Visual Artist — Maxwell Emcays for Englewood Public Unveiling
  • Outstanding Exhibition — All Children Draw, Blanc Gallery
  • Special Recognition: Black Arts Advocate — Vincent E. Williams, late founder of the Black Theatre Alliance Awards
  • Special Recognition: Black Arts Advocate — Erin Harkey, commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events 
  • Special Recognition: Black Arts Advocate — avery r. young, Chicago Poet Laureate 

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