This year's awards ceremony, directed and choreographed by Bobby Bianca, focused on the education of the Broadway dancer by celebrating the dedicated teachers who train them. Four dance teachers were recognized for their years of hard work and commitment to educating young Broadway hopefuls: Frank Hatchett, Phil Black, Luigi, and Madame Gabriela Taub-Darvash.
The TDF/Astaire Awards were established in 1982 by the Anglo-American Contemporary Dance Foundation and have been administered by the Theatre Development Fund since 1991. The awards were established with the cooperation of dance legend Fred Astaire in honor of him and his sister Adele; the pair starred in several Broadway musicals together, including Lady Be Good, Funny Face, and The Band Wagon.
The list of previous TDF/Astaire Award winners for choreography includes George Balanchine, Michael Bennett, Patricia Birch, Matthew Bourne, Graciela Daniele, Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, and thre-time winner Susan Stroman. Among the awardees for dance performance have been Debbie Allen, Savion Glover, Gregory Hines, Donna McKechnie, Ann Miller, Chita Rivera, and one of this year's nominees for Thou Shalt Not: Kate Levering. A complete list of the 2002 nominees follows:
Rob Ashford, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Susan Stroman, Oklahoma!
Christopher Wheeldon, Sweet Smell of Success
Best Female Dancer:
Sutton Foster, Thoroughly Modern Millie
Josefina Gabrielle, Oklahoma!
Kate Levering, Thou Shalt Not
Best Male Dancer:
Vernel Bagneris, One Mo' Time
Justin Bohon, Oklahoma!
Norbert Leo Butz, Thou Shalt Not