The 43rd Annual Kennedy Center Honors ceremony showed reverence to those who have achieved a lifetime in the entertainment industry on Sunday night (June 6). Every year, the Washington D.C. based award ceremony picks a handful of esteemed artists to honor, as other artists perform some of their notable works in tribute to the invaluable impact they’ve had on the arts industry.
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This year, the Kennedy Center chose to honor Debbie Allen, Joan Baez, Garth Brooks, Midori and Dick Van Dyke. The prominent group are some of the most accomplished artists in the business. So, you can imagine that the star-studded performances honoring them were just as impressive. The five prestigious performers took their seats in the audience as they watched renditions of their work—as many of them moved beyond words.
Here are five moments from the 43rd annual Kennedy Center Honors that you just shouldn’t miss.
5. Vanessa Hudgens’ Groovy Moves in “Fame”
Paying tribute to choreographer, actress and director Debbie Allen, Vanessa Hudgens and company performed the title number “Fame” from musical Fame. The colorful performance features the iconic moves that Allen famously brought to the stage. Hudgens’ interpretation of dancer Carmen Diaz does not disappoint.
4. Aaron Tveit & Pentatonix’s “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” Rendition
To honor actor, singer and dancer Dick Van Dyke, Broadway star Aaron Tveit took to the stage alongside the a capella band Pentatonix. The group performed “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” from the film of the same name, where Van Dyke famously portrayed Caractacus Potts.
3. Derek Hough Performs “Step in Time”
In another performance to honor Van Dyke—this one from Mary Poppins—Derek Hough hit the stage with his interpretation of Bert’s rooftop moves. The number features fun choreography on the art center’s roof, with a beautiful vista view of the Potomac River in the background.
2. Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris Perform “Diamonds and Rust”
In honor of Joan Baez, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Emmylou Harris gave a gritty and bare-boned performance of “Diamonds and Rust” and “We Shall Overcome.” The harmonies had Baez smiling in the crowd, as she sang along.
1. Kelly Clarkson’s Rendition of “The Dance”
And lastly, the definitive stand out performance from the ceremony was Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of “The Dance,” in honor of Garth Brooks. She started the performance with just her vocals—echoing in the space—as the sentimental piano picks up behind her. Garth, with tears gathering in his eyes, was undeniably moved by Kelly’s powerful voice.