Each year, the Bessie Awards honor the best in dance. The awards were established in 1983, and are considered an institution. But there’s an origin story for everything, and the Bessies began with David White, the Yard’s creative and executive director.

Tonight, Oct. 20, Mr. White is being honored in New York city at the Bessie’s Angel Party. Choreographer David Gordon and performer Bill Irwin will do a special salute to the man who brought the awards into existence.

Mr. White joined the Yard in 2011, revitalizing the Chilmark-based dance colony both financially and artistically. For most of his career, from 1975 to 2003, he led the Dance Theatre Workshop, one of the most influential performing arts spaces and incubators. The Village Voice referred to him as the Godfather of the downtown New York dance scene.

But Mr. White was not only focused on the New York scene. He became a national spokesperson for dance, and anyone who has been to a Yard performance and heard Mr. White speak before a show understands how passionate he is about dance, and about getting everyone else equally as passionate about the subject.

As Mr. White said in a 2012 interview with the Gazette: “Everybody moves.”

True, but some move better than others, hence the need for award ceremonies. And some have the vision and stamina to create lasting institutions, and tonight Mr. White will be recognized for his many contributions to the world of dance.