Posted on September 20, 2011
22-year-old James Cousins has won the first New Adventures Choreographer Award (NACA). Nearly 100 aspiring choreographers applied for the award, created to celebrate the 50th birthday of New Adventures’ choreographer Matthew Bourne. Impressed by the standard of applications, the judges have created a runner-up prize, awarded to 19-year-old Tom Jackson Greaves.
Cousins, who trained at London Contemporary Dance School and has danced with Darren Johnston and New Adventures, will be granted more than £15,000 to work on his skills over a period of 12 months. Throughout the year, he will be mentored by Bourne and other New Adventures staff and artists. At the end of the year, New Adventures will invite leading industry figures to a showcase of his work. Greaves will also receive mentoring, plus a small budget to help him create a solo work, which will be performed at the showcase performance.
Matthew Bourne was joined on the judging panel by designer Lez Brotherston, DanceEast director Assis Carreiro, choreographers Aletta Collins and Christopher Hampson, Phoenix Dance Theatre director Sharon Watson and New Adventures artists Scott Ambler, Nina Goldman and Etta Murfitt.
Bourne said: “James Cousins is a highly talented choreographer at the beginning of his career. The judges were impressed by his ambitions to form his own company and his refreshing desire to entertain.”
The other shortlisted choreographers were Daniel Hay-Gordon, Soledad de la Hoz, Kristen McNally, Christopher Marney, Drew McOnie, Ernst Meisner, Jelka Milic, Ash Mukherjee, Rachael Nanyonjo, Sophie Robinson, Shane Shambhu, Neil Westmoreland and James Wilton. Bourne said: “We received an astonishingly varied group of applications, both in style and experience, representing everything from dance theatre to classical ballet, musical theatre to contemporary, kathak to hip hop and even ice dance! The judges and I have been very impressed by the creative ingenuity, passion and sheer talent of our 15 shortlisted choreographers. Our aim was to find the winner that we feel will benefit most from what New Adventures has to offer, at this stage in their careers. I am personally very excited to work with James Cousins and our runner-up Tom Jackson Greaves in helping them to realise some of their ambitions.”
He also thanked everyone who made donations to the award: “Through reading the applications it was obvious to me how needed this, and other such awards, have become for young choreographers. I’m therefore thrilled to announce that we will be presenting our next NACA awards in 2013.” If you would like to contribute to the next award, please email Re-Bourne@new-adventures.net.