Why Isn't There an Oscar for Best Choreography?

Ashley Wallen's choreography brought The Greatest Showman to life. (Photo by Niko Tavernise, courtesy Twentieth Century Fox)

The 2018 Oscar noms are here. Which is fun and all; we'll never not get excited about a night of glitz and glamor and, when we're lucky, pretty great dancing. But we'd be a heck of a lot more excited if the Academy Awards included a Best Choreography category. And really—why don't they?


Last year, La La Land's Oscars domination (FOURTEEN nominations) made the fact that Mandy Moore couldn't be recognized for her fantastic choreo—a huge, indisputable part of the film's success—seem especially cruel. This year, it feels weird not to recognize the dance contributions of Ashley Wallen (The Greatest Showman), Anthony Van Laast (Beauty and the Beast), and Aurélie Dupont (Leap!), to name just a few.

Yes, there's a workaround: Gene Kelly, Jerome Robbins, and Onna White received honorary Oscars for their dance work on (respectively) An American in Paris, West Side Story, and Oliver!. A year ago, choreographer Liz Imperio started a campaign to get Moore an honorary award of her own; sadly, it was unsuccessful. (Also—little-known fact—from 1935 to 1937, there was a Best Dance Direction category, whose nominees included Busby Berkeley and Hermes Pan.)

But why not just make Best Choreography a permanent category? There'd be no shortage of potential nominees. More and more movies are hiring brilliant choreographers, and many of them are doing beautiful work. Let's recognize the people who make motion pictures move.

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(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

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Liz Imperio teaching at Hollywood Vibe, Courtesy of Hollywood Vibe

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