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JUBA! Award & Awardees

Supporting performance, education and community

The Story of JUBA

William Henry Lane was the first African American to earn the right to perform with white minstrel dancers in the 1830’s and 40s. Lane and an Irishman named John Diamond were promoted in a series of staged tap dance competitions of which Lane won all but one. He was given the appellation “Juba”- a Zulu word meaning King – by fellow dancers and went on to give command performances before the crowned heads of Europe where he was proclaimed the greatest dancer of all time by American and European critics alike.

Juba (also spelled giuba) is a river/valley/city in Somalia/Ethiopia/Sudan. It is also a word in Swahili meaning “dove”. Juba was also a dance created by slaves featuring hand clapping and foot stomping, referred to as “patting the juba”.

The JUBA! Award

William Henry Lane faced crushing prejudice in a country still divided by slavery and was still able to accomplish, to excel and to win. Lane’s life is a testament to the ability of people to overcome all obstacles, to excel despite adversity and to affect change through acts of personal courage and fortitude. This award acknowledges those who personify these characteristics and have made extraordinary contributions to the field as artists and patrons.

Past Honorees



Pamela Crutchfield

A passionate and active member of Chicago’s dance community. Co-founder of DanceWorks Chicago. Received the prestigious Ruth Page Award in 2009 and the Champion of Dance award from Dance USA. A tireless advocate for dancers who has commissioned countless works for dance companies in Chicago.


The Chicago Free For All Fund at The Chicago Community Trust

A donor directed fund whose mission is to make world class cultural experiences free – a hallmark of Chicago’s democratic culture.


Dame Libby Komaiko

1949-2019. Founder and artistic director, performer and educator of the Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater and Center, whose innovative, unique and visionary career encompassed art, education and culture. Founder of the American Spanish Dance & Music Festival. Co-founder of the Ensemble Youth Company. The first American artist in history to be decorated with Spain’s highest honor, the “Lazo de Dama de Isabel la Católica” by Juan Carlos I, King of Spain.


Kim Niewiedzial

Kim Niewiedzial has played a pivotal role in the revitalization of Trinity Irish Dance Company since 2015. From California to New York to Japan, she has traveled across the world to support TIDC’s mission, inspiring our artists, and elevating communities at every turn.


Matie Ovalle

Co-founder of the Mexican Folk Dance Company of Chicago. Artistic director of the junior ensemble of the company since 1987. A proud recipient of the Viva Latina Award granted by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, who has helped to preserve Mexican culture in Chicago.


Amaniyea Payne

Artistic director of the Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago since 1987. The principal architect of the Company’s technical growth, Amaniyea expanded its repertory and national reputation with a commitment to authentic presentations of traditional African dance and a vision of developing and nurturing new work.


Hema Rajagopalan

A preeminent Bharata Natyam dancer, teacher and choreographer of international reputation. Founder and artistic director of Natya Dance Theatre, a touring company and school that specializes in Bharata Natyam. Her innovative work preserves Bharata Natyam while exploring new directions .



Terry Mazany

President and chief executive officer for The Chicago
Community Trust. Selected as the sixth executive in the Trust’s
hundred year history in 2004. In 2011 also served as the interim chief
executive officer of Chicago Public Schools.

The Chicago Community Trust

A community foundation dedicated to improving the Chicago region through strategic grant making, civic
engagement and inspiring philanthropy.



Michelle Dorrance

Founder and artistic director of Dorrance Dance. 2015 MacArthur Fellow, and recipient of the Alpert Award, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award, Princess Grace Award, and a Bessie Award.

Nicholas Young

Dancer, musician, choreographer, founding member of Dorrance Dance, and nine-year cast member with STOMP. Received a Bessie Award for sound design and composition. Co-founded the Institute for the Rhythmic Arts.

Maurice Hines

Star of stage, screen and television, performing solo and with his brother since the age of 10.



Tommy Tune

An American actor, dancer, singer, theatre director, producer, and choreographer. Over the course of his career, he has won ten Tony Awards and the National Medal of Arts.



Charles Gardner and Patti Eylar

Long-time supporters and philanthropists of Chicago’s dance and theater companies, including CHRP, the Joffrey, Chicago Shakes, Steppenwolf, and the Auditorium Theatre. An ardent volunteer, Patti received the 2011 Ruth Page Award.


The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.



Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Has served as the 55th mayor of the city of Chicago since 2011. Prior to becoming Mayor, served as the White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama and served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives representing Chicago’s 5th District.

Heather Cornell Photo.png

Heather Cornell

Extraordinary Contribution to the Field as Founder and Director of Manhattan Tap and as a choreographer, teacher, producer and director.



Susan and Ted Oppenheimer

Life-long philanthropists, educators, and activists, dedicating their time and resources to the betterment of Chicago’s educational system and performing arts, among other areas.



Donna LaPietra and
Bill Kurtis

Donna La Pietra is Vice President and Executive Producer for Kurtis Productions and has won several Emmy Awards for her work. Bill Kurtis is an acclaimed documentary host and producer, network and major market news anchor, and multimedia production company president.


Randy Skinner

An American dancer, director and choreographer, primarily for the stage. Nominated four times for Tony Awards, three times for Drama Desk Awards, and four times for Outer Critics Circle Awards for choreography.


Julie Cartier

Artistic director, choreographer, teacher, dance fanatic. Founding member of Especially Tap Chicago and founder and artistic director of The Cartier Collective.


Peggy Sutton

Director of Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts, founded in 1957 with the goal of developing dance as a cultural and physical asset for the children of the community.

Idella Davis

Creative Director of Tap at the Sammy School of the Theatre, recognized as both a skillful artist and one Chicago’s most sought after tap instructors.

Shelley Hoselton

Owner and director of Talent Forum, started in 1988, home of Footprints Tap Ensemble.



Dianne Walker

Considered a pioneer in the resurgence of tap dancing. Her thirty-year career spans Broadway, television, film, and international dance concerts.


Sam Weber

Award-winning, internationally acclaimed performing artist, master teacher and choreographer. The first tap dancer to receive a “Bessie” award, in recognition of outstanding creative achievement.


Gene Medler

Founder and director of the highly acclaimed North Carolina Youth Tap Ensemble (NCYTE), founded in 1982, and director of the N.C. Rhythm Tap Festival.


MCA Stage

Presenting cutting-edge dance, theater, and music from Chicago and around the world, pushing the boundaries of performance for over 20 years


Billy Elliot the Musical

Broadway production with music written by Elton John. Performed throughout mid-January 2011 at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago.



Lane Alexander

Co-founder and director of CHRP, leader in institutionalization of American tap dance, and director of Emmy-nominated JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance.


Arny Granat

Co-founder of Jam Productions, largest independent promotion company in the US, and Jam Theatricals, Arny has produced the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Frank Sinatra, and countless others. Arny has received multiple Tony Awards for his numerous Broadway Productions.


Elaine Cohen

CHRP Honorary Founder. A pioneer in the field of live event marketing. Broke the mold and reshaped the entire global field. A passionate and generous patron of the arts who provided the cornerstone for CHRP’s American Rhythm Center and has supported every aspect of CHRP’s programs for more than two decades.



Joan Hill

Classically trained pianist, accompanist and partner of Leon Collins. Creator of the “Joan Hill Tap-a-scat-a-matic Bebop System of Tap Notation”.



Muriel Foster

Director and President of Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre. Performed as a “Dyerette” with Sammy Davis, Jr., Nat King Cole, Benny Green, Ruth Brown, Roy Hamilton, Tito Puente, Billy Eckstine and other greats. Continuing to make her mark by providing arts education to the next generation.


Harold Cromer

Former member of internationally-known duo “Stump and Stumpy” with James Cross. Awarded “Living Treasure in American Dance Award” in 1996.


Skip Cunningham

Chicago-native dancer and singer. Featured on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Tonight Show, & The Merv Griffin Show, and in films The Cotton Club Tap.


Jimmy Slyde

1927-2008. Rhythm tapper legend. Won National Heritage Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and Dance Magazine award. Featured in revue “Black & Blue”, and films Tap & The Cotton Club.



Blue Cross/ Blue Shield Illinois

As a leader of the Chicago corporate community, Blue Cross/Blue Shield Illinois has supported countless charitable organizations, not only engaged in health and wellness, but in arts, education, public safety and more. BC/BS has helped to build a vibrant corporate giving culture.


Lou Conte

Broadway veteran, choreographer and founder of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and the Lou Conte Dance Studio.



Arthur Duncan

Tap dancer known for regular performances on The Lawrence Welk Show. First African-American regular on variety TV program.


Bill Hood

Bill Hood and American Airlines have served the Chicago community through their philanthropic efforts and leadership. American Airlines has supported many cultural organizations through travel support for artists and donations to charitable events.



Fayard Nicholas

1914–2006. Award-winning eldest brother of the Nicholas Brothers, began dancing at the Cotton Club and became a Broadway and film star.


Ernest “Brownie” Brown

1916-2009. Legendary vaudeville tap dancer, part of Cook & Brown duo and the Copasetics. Member of the Tap Dance Hall of Fame.


Jeni LeGon

Chicago native and one of first African American women tap soloists. Member of Hoofer’s Club & Tap Dance Hall of Fame. Performed with Bojangles Robinson, Fats Waller, and other greats.



Sammy Dyer

Founder of the Sammy Dyer School of the Theatre, noted tap choreographer and educator.


Tommy Sutton

Tap choreographer and founder of Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts in South Chicago. A pioneer in dance education and devoted to educating across the color barrier.


Jimmy Payne, Sr.

1917-2000. Tap & Afro-Carribean dance performer and teacher. Students included Bob Fosse, Lena Horne, & Gregory Hines.



Leila Handelman

Member of The Saints, volunteers for the performing arts, along with her husband, Neil Handelman.  Organized “Munchie Patrol” backstage for artists at performances for 14 years.


Glenn Baruck

Glenn Baruck and Leo’s Dancewear supported CHRP and the entire Chicago dance community for decades by making world class products, through sponsorships, donations of dancewear, and in-kind marketing support.



Gregory Hines

1946-2003. Award-winning American actor, singer, dancer and choreographer, seen in films such as The Cotton Club, White Nights, Tap, and in musicals such as Eubie! and Jelly’s Last Jam.


Ann Barzel

1905-2007. American writer, critic and lecturer on dance, and once a dance critic for the Chicago Times. Known for her contributions to the Newberry Library.


Fawn Ring

Executive producer of cultural and entertainment programming at WTTW Chicago. Driving force behind many of WTTW’s most innovative arts programming initiatives.


The Honorable Mr. & Mrs. Richard M. Daley

54th Mayor of Chicago. National reputation for innovative programs to address education, public safety, and neighborhood development.



Danny Daniels

American tap dancer, choreographer & teacher. Featured in 1940’s Broadway musicals, winner of a Tony Award & Astaire Award for choreography, and composer of the Tap Dance Concerto.



Cholly Atkins

American dancer and vaudeville performer, who later became noted as house choreographer for various artists on the Motown label.


Savion Glover

Born 1973. American actor, tap dancer and choreographer. Star of The Tap Dance Kid and Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk on Broadway, and Spike Lee’s film Bamboozled.


Dr. Prince Spencer

Member of Four Step Brothers, appearing in over 40 films, & toured Europe representing American dance. Awarded life achievement for breaking color barrier in 1985.



Richard Weinberg

CHRP honorary founder who has supported CHRP for three decades. The lead supporter of the Emmy nominated CHRP- PBS- ITVS documentary, JUBA! Masters of Tap and Percussive Dance. A Broadway producer, philanthropist and community leader who has helped to make Chicago one of the cultural capitols of the world.


Bill Irwin

Award-winning American actor/clown/producer who is credited for contributions to the renaissance of clowning in the 1970’s.


Vic Anderson

Vic Anderson helped Target to develop a culture of giving and community support that continues to this day. Target provided pivotal support for CHRP’s summer festival of American tap, Rhythm World, scholarships for talented, deserving youths and ongoing support of performance and education programs.



Fred Kelly

Award-winning hoofer who popularized Mambo and Cha-Cha, directed pioneering television shows, and one of America’s leading dance teachers.


Lloyd Storey & Frank Colvard

Two of the four famed dancers making up legendary tap act – The Sultans. Performed in Bill Robinson’s company and went on to perform with Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, Redd Foxx, Peg Leg Bates and Tony Bennett among many others. Performed throughout their lives while also connecting new generations of dancers to the history of American tap by teaching master classes around the world.



Luke Cresswell

Co-creator and director of dance percussion act Stomp, percussionist and TV music writer.

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