|The History of the Minnesota SAGE Awards|
The Minnesota SAGE Awards for Dance were the brainchild of Stuart Pimsler, who knew that many other dance communities around the country had local dance award programs. Pimsler brought this idea to a community meeting held by the McKnight Foundation in 2004 and, after hearing considerable interest, convened a meeting to begin planning a Minnesota award.
The initial SAGES planning committee came together many times to discuss what they wanted the award to encompass. Decisions were made about award categories, eligibility requirements, panel selection and operation, theater participation, award presentation and scope of the gala event. Early planning committee members included Beth Brody, Amber Ellison, Robert Haarman, Judith Brin Ingber, Brita Jackson, Mathew Janczeski, Dana Kassel, Kim Motes, John Munger, Stuart Pimsler, Leili Pritschet, April Sellers, Roxane Wallace, David White.
In past years the awards program have been coordinated by Pimsler and Dana Kassel, with input and assistance by Robert Haarman, Caroline Palmer, Linda Shapiro and many other dance community members. The first annual event was held at the Southern Theater in October 2005 with hosts Patrick Scully and Laurie Van Wieren. For more details on past events and the award recipients, see the Past Events page.
It was decided to name the Minnesota dance awards for Sage Cowles, a choreographer, performer and philanthropist.
Sage Cowles’s early training in ballet and modern dance led to performing in the Wisconsin Dance Group, a short run on Broadway in “Bless You All” and appearances on TV’s “Lucky Strike Hit Parade.” Subsequently, in Minnesota she became interested in Body/Mind disciplines, served as an advisor to the Creative Leadership program at the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, created workshops “I Can, I Can Choose, I Can Change,” and was the choreographer for Suzanne Lacey’s performance piece “Whispers” in Minneapolis. In more recent years she collaboration with Molly Davies on six film performances and toured as a guest artists with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in “Last Supper at Uncle Tom’s Cabin/The Promised Land.” She also has served on the NEA’s dance panel and continues as a board member of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation. In June 2004 received an Ernie Award from Dance USA at their national conference for her dance leadership in the Twin Cities and nationally.
In March 2005 Sage and her husband, John Cowles, were invited to share a Louis W. Hill Jr. Fellowship in Philanthropy, a year-long appointment at the Humphrey Institute at the U of MN. The most recent performances of her work with Molly Davies were at the Dance Theater Workshop in New York City, April 2005, and at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in May 2005. In 2010, in honor of Sage and John Cowles life long support of the Twin Cities dance community, the Shubert Theater was renamed the Cowles Center for Dance and Performing Arts. The 2011 Sage Awards ceremony took place in the new facility.