Posted on February 20, 2020
The National Dance Awards celebrated its 20th anniversary on February 19, at the Barbican, London. Organised on behalf of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle, this year’s awards were presented by Miguel Altunaga and Mara Galeazzi with an introduction by Graham Watts, chair of the Dance Section, in which he paid tribute in memoriam to dance critic Jeffery Taylor and former winner at the awards, Teneisha Bonner.
The afternoon opened with a special presentation of the 2018/19 Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company to Lin Hwai-min, founder of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan. Lin, who stepped down as the company’s artistic director at the end of 2019, thanked the critics for making Cloud Gate “the first Asian company to receive this prestigious honour”.
It was a good year for English National Ballet with Katja Khaniukova winning with the award for Outstanding Female Classical Performance (sponsored by Lee McLernon) for her performance as Frida in Broken Wings. Thanking director Tamara Rojo, she added: “Fun fact: she helped me to do my monobrow.”
Other triumphs for the company included English National Ballet’s Stina Quagebeur winning the Emerging Artist Award (sponsored by The L & M Trust) – the first time a choreographer has triumphed in this category – and Gavin Sutherland, ENB’s conductor and musical director, taking home the Outstanding Creative Contribution award (sponsored by The Critics’ Circle). “For all ballet musicians and conductors, this one’s for you,” he said.
The Royal Ballet’s Marcelino Sambé and Francesca Hayward won the Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer and the Tendu Award for Best Female Dancer respectively. The former was presented by our editor, Jonathan Gray, who dedicated it to the memory of photographer Anthony Crickmay, “who enjoyed watching male dancers”.
A third win for The Royal Ballet saw Gary Avis win the award for Outstanding Male Classical Performance as Kulygin in Winter Dreams for The Royal Ballet. Avis gave a gracious speech, joking to the other shortlisted dancers: “I don’t know how you feel about being on the list with some guy who’s old enough to be your dad.”
San Francisco Ballet enjoyed a successful afternoon, winning the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company, while Alexei Ratmansky won the award for Best Classical Choreography (sponsored by The Ballet Association) for Shostakovich Trilogy for the company, triumphing in a shortlist of otherwise female choreographers.
William Forsythe won the Harlequin Floors Award for Best Modern Choreography for A Quiet Evening of Dance.
Solène Weinachter won the award for Outstanding Female Modern Performance (sponsored by DWFM Beckman) for her role as Juliet in Juliet & Romeo for Lost Dog.
Shobana Jeyasingh won the Marquee TV Award for Best Independent Company.
Jonathan Goddard won the award for Outstanding Male Modern Performance (sponsored by The NDA Patrons) for his role in The Mother for Alexandra Markvo/Bird and Carrot. Picking up the award on his behalf, Arthur Pita said, “He deals with everything I throw at him: lipstick, high heels… the force of nature that is Natalia Osipova.”
The last presentation of the afternoon was the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement, which was won by Marion Tait. Visibly moved, Tait said, “Just to have my name said alongside De Valois’ or to be said in the same breath is an honour.”