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National Dance Awards

Posted on January 23, 2012

winnersThe twelfth Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards took place today at The Place, in the Robin Howard Dance Theatre. Members of the dance section of the Critics’ Circle vote for the awards, on performances given in the UK between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011.

 

The award for outstanding male performance (classical) went to The Royal Ballet’s Gary Avis. Avis paid tribute to the character dancers he had seen growing up, who had taught him that, even if he would never be a Romeo, you could achieve greatness in supporting roles.

 

The award for outstanding female performance (modern) went to Sylvie Guillem for her show 6,000 Miles Away. Alistair Spalding of Sadler’s Wells accepted the award on Guillem’s behalf, describing his pride in getting “the three best choreographers in the world” (William Forsythe, Mats Ek and Jirí Kylián) to work on it – Forsythe, he added, had emailed him within half an hour to agree to take part.

 

The award for best independent company went to Luca Silvestrini’s Protein. Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp, master of ceremonies for the event, joked that this proved he could keep a secret: “Keeping the result of an award from someone you live with…”

 

The award for best classical choreography went to David Bintley for Cinderella, danced by Birmingham Royal Ballet. Bintley is currently in Japan, so the award was accepted on his behalf by Elisha Willis of BRB, who danced the title role at the first performance.

 

The award for best modern choreography went to Akram Khan for Vertical Road. The award was accepted by Farooq Chaudhry, the Akram Khan Company’s producer, who explained why Khan, who recently suffered an injury, couldn’t be there – he’s “on his back on a table, having his Achilles tendon seen to”.

 

The award for outstanding female performance (classical) went to Sophie Martin of Scottish Ballet, who will be the Dancer of the Month in our February issue.

 

The award for outstanding male performance (modern) went to Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui for Dunas, his collaboration with flamenco dancer María Pagés. Accepting his award, Cherkaoui thanked Pagés: “If she didn’t dance like that, I wouldn’t dance like that beside her”.

 

The John Doyle Construction Award for outstanding company went to the Maryinsky Ballet. Xander Parish, the first British-born dancer to join the Maryinsky, accepted the award with thanks in English and Russian.

 

The Jane Attenborough Dance UK Industry Award went to David Burnie, The Place’s Director of Administration and Finance. He joked that, after more than twenty years, this was the first time he had stood on the stage in front of an audience, and made an elegant bow.

 

The Dancing Times Award for best male dancer went to Steven McRae of The Royal Ballet. McCrae exclaimed that he had had a great year: “Getting married, the best thing I ever did,” and thanked Monica Mason, who has overseen his career so far. He also called out to Kevin O’Hare, Mason’s appointed successor.

 

The Grishko Award for best female dancer went to English National Ballet’s Daria Klimentová, who was just delighted. She literally jumped for joy, bouncing on the spot in her high heeled boots. “It only took me 30 years of doing ballet every day…” she said, before thanking ENB’s Vadim Muntagirov, “who makes me amazing on stage, I mean who makes me feel amazing”.

 

The De Valois Award for outstanding achievement went to Ashley Page, as he steps down after a decade as artistic director of Scottish Ballet. No nominations are announced for this award, so it came as a surprise to Page: “I wasn’t even sure I could be here today… how naughty of you!” Close to tears, Page spoke of his happiness at his work for Scottish Ballet, and was greeted with prolonged applause.

 

For a full list of the dancers, choreographers and companies nominated for the awards, see our earlier report. Graham Watts, chairman of the awards committee, said: “These awards emphasise the UK’s thriving dance culture and it is wonderful to see so many superb artists and companies nominated by the dance critics for 2011. We are especially happy to have come to the home of contemporary dance in London for the awards ceremony.”

 

The 2011 National Dance Awards sponsors are Grishko, Dancing Times, John Doyle Construction, The Ballet Association, Lee McLernon, Paul and Shirlie Morrell, The Critics’ Circle and Dance UK.

 

Picture: The winners. Left to right: Gary Avis, Xander Parish, Steven McRae, Farooq Chaudhry, Daria Klimentová, Alistair Spalding, Ashley Page, Luca Silvestrini, Sophie Martin, David Burnie, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. Photograph: John Ross.

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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