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In dance contest, life imitates reality TV

A $10,000 prize awaits a local choreographer who most pleases audience and judges.

As any viewer of reality TV knows, high-quality dancing can lead to fame, fortune, and mirror-ball trophies.

Except in the real world, where fame is exceedingly rare and fortune all but unheard of.

This week, however, a small windfall - $10,000 - is offered for one of 12 local choreographers whose work audience members and a panel of judges deem the most worthy. Two runners-up will receive $1,000 each.

The A.W.A.R.D. Show (Artists With Audiences Responding to Dance), presented by Dance Affiliates, will be held Wednesday through Saturday at the Arts Bank. It's part of a six-city project run by New York's Joyce Theater, and is also presented in Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco, and at the Joyce. Initiated in 2005, it was offered once before in Philadelphia, at the 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival/Philly Fringe, when Nichole Canuso took home the top prize.

Like Dancing With the Stars or So You Think You Can Dance, the A.W.A.R.D. Show starts with initial rounds. On three consecutive nights, four choreographers will present 12-to-15-minute works, and the audience will vote. Each night's winner moves on to the final round. Unlike on TV, however, the judges remain silent until the fourth night, when they determine the overall winner.

This year's class includes a high level of choreographers. The first night offers Eric Bean, a dancer with Koresh, who will present Prime, set on the Eleone Dance Ensemble; Eleanor Goudie-Averill, a dancer with Group Motion and founder of Stone Depot Dance, with the premiere of Convictions 1-111; Meredith Rainey, retired Pennsylvania Ballet dancer and director of Carbon Dance Theatre, offering This Is It/It Is This, a duet with Sun-Mi Cho; and Brian Sanders, Momix alumnus and founder of Brian Sanders/JUNK, presenting excerpts from a new work, Dancing Dead.

Thursday night features Zane Booker, whose credits include Philadanco, White Oak and Complexions, with Black Power, a trio to music by Zoe Keating; Bronwen MacArthur, a Susan Hess Choreographers Project resident and founder of MacArthur Dance, with the premiere of Interrupt Rondo, set to music by Curtis Institute faculty member David Ludwig; Gabrielle Revlock, who dances with Jeanne Ruddy and founded Mano/Damno, presenting I Made This for You, with 15 performers; and Yu Wei, of the Wuhan Song and Dance Theater and founder of Yu Wei Chinese Dance Collection, re-creating her solo Water.

Friday's program features Brian Tyger-B Marshall with the premiere of the large-ensemble piece Autobiography/Rehearsal; Sarah Konner, a dancer for Anne-Marie Mulgrew and Olive Prince, presenting Heavy Is Good, Dead Is Tender, with seven dancers and two singers; Rain Ross, founder of Rain Ross Dance, with Composition #43; and Raphael Xavier, a Rennie Harris alumnus, with the autobiographical Black Canvas.

The program for Saturday's final round will be announced after the Friday competition.