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Future In Doubt As National Dance Awards Celebrate 10th Year

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The future of the National Dance Awards, which celebrate their tenth anniversary this year, could not be guaranteed unless new sponsorship was found.

Chairman Mike Dixon said at the ceremony at the Royal Opera House that if anyone had any rich friends they should persuade them to sponsor the Awards. “We can’t work without sponsors,” he said.

Dixon then handed over to mistress of ceremonies Angela Rippon who introduced the Awards starting with those for professional dancers. The Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) went to freelancer and former Rambert dancer Amy Hollingsworth, with the Outstanding Male Performance (Modern) going to Thomasin Gulgec, also of Rambert.

Next was the Awards for classical ballet, with Melissa Hamilton of The Royal Ballet receiving the Outstanding Female Performance, and Sergei Polunin, also of the Royal, receiving the Outstanding Male Performance.

The best overall female dancer Award, known as the  Richard Sherrington Award, was won by The Royal Ballet's Leanne Benjamin, with Scottish Ballet's Paul Liburd winning the best overall male dancer Award which is sponsored by the Dancing Times.

As well as professional dancers, the National Dance Awards also recognise aspiring students. The Angelina Ballerina Children’s Award is for under-9s and was given to Lucy Wood, while the CDET Student of the Year Award went to 17-year-old Sam Chung who is studying at Tring Park.

For dance companies, and their artistic directors, there are two Awards. First is the Dance Europe Award for Outstanding Company, which this year went to Ballet Black, and the PMB Presentation Award for Best Foreign Dance Company, which went to Merce Cunningham Dance Company.

New choreography also receives two Awards. First is Best Classical Choreography, which was won by Wayne McGregor for Infra, and second is Best Modern Choreography, which one-time Rambert director Christopher Bruce won for Hush.

In addition to the on-stage performers, the Awards recognise the contribution made by behind-the-scenes figures with the Jane Attenborough Dance UK Industry Award and The Governors of the Royal Ballet Gold Medal. These  are given to individuals who have make a significant difference to dance but whose efforts are not normally seen. This year’s Jane Attenborough Award went to Marie McCluskey of Swindon Dance, the dance agency, and the Royal Ballet’s Governors Medal was awarded to teacher and coach Elizabeth Anderton.

Alexander Grant, the veteran character dancer best known for the roles he created in the ballets of Sir Frederick Ashton, received the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance. "What a wonderful surprise," said Grant, who had also been the director of the National Ballet of Canada in the 1970s.

Conductor Richard Bonynge received the Patron’s Award, which is given at the discretion of Patron Dame Beryl Grey. Dame Beryl said she chose Richard for the many recordings he had made of ballet scores which have significantly furthered the cause of dance in the UK.

The National Dance Awards celebrate the variety of Britain’s dance culture and are the only professional awards in the UK dedicated to dance. They are presented by the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle, which brings together more than 50 dance writers.
Dame Beryl said: “The tenth anniversary is a true milestone in the history of these prestigious Awards which are the focal point of the UK dance calendar. It has been a monumental achievement to make the event bigger and stronger with each passing year.”


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