Mark Baldwin picked up the big De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement (the ‘lifetime’ award) at the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for 2018, presented today at a ceremony in London, hosted by Mbulelo Ndabeni and Cira Robinson.
Baldwin was awarded the prize in recognition of his career to date as a dancer and choreographer, including his time as resident choreographer at Scottish Ballet and his sixteen-year service as artistic director of Rambert, which included winning the Outstanding Company Award in 2010. His award was presented by Judith Mackrell, until recently the chief dance critic of The Guardian.
Akram Khan wins a record eighth National Dance Award for his solo performance in XENOS, which must have also come very close to picking up the prize for Best Modern Choreography. That instead went to Crystal Pite for The Statement for Nederlands Dans Theater. Pite collected the same award for Polaris in 2015.
There is a first victory for a flamenco artist with Rocío Molina winning Outstanding Female Modern Performance for Caída del Cielo/Fallen from Heaven for Cía Rocío Molina, seen at Dance Umbrella.
Following dancer Chien Ching-ying picking up that award in 2016, there’s a first award for a Taiwanese company, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre winning the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company following their visit to Sadler’s Wells with Lin Hwai-min’s ode to Taiwan, Formosa.
Lighting designer, Lucy Carter won the inaugural Outstanding Creative Contribution Award, a new category designed to acknowledge the important role in dance of others besides choreographers and dancers. It may be given for design (set, lighting, costume or digital), music (composer, conductor, musician, or orchestra), dramaturgy or any other contribution to the creative process.
Ballet remains the most popular dance form amongst the critics, taking a total of six awards including the two Best Dancer awards, won by The Royal Ballet’s partnership of Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez; while Alina Cojocaru of English National Ballet won the Outstanding Female Classical Performance Award for the second successive year for her Aurora in English National Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty.
Robinson must have been particularly happy to be able to her own company, Ballet Black, pick up two prizes, Cathy Marston’s The Suit winning Best Classical Choreography and José Alves receiving Best Male Classical Performance for the same ballet. Ballet Black and The Suit will be joining forces with Birmingham Royal Ballet in a collaborative triple-bill next season.
The full list of award winners:
Outstanding Creative Contribution: Lucy Carter (Lighting Designer)
Best Modern Choreography: Crystal Pite for The Statement for Nederlands Dans Theater
Outstanding Male Classical Performance (sponsored by the London Ballet Circle): José Alves in The Suit for Ballet Black
Outstanding Female Modern Performance [sponsored by DWFM Beckman]: Rocío Molina in Caída del Cielo/ Fallen from Heaven for Cía Rocío Molina/Dance Umbrella
Outstanding Female Classical Performance (sponsored by Lee Mclernon]: Alina Cojocaru as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty for English National Ballet
Outstanding Male Modern Performance (sponsored by the critics’ circle): Akram Khan in XENOS for Akram Khan Company
Best Classical Choreography (sponsored by the Ballet Association): Cathy Marston for The Suit for Ballet Black
Emerging artist award (sponsored by the L&M Trust): Precious Adams (first artist, English National Ballet)
Best Independent Company (sponsored by DWFM Beckman): Russell Maliphant Company
Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company: Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan
Dancing Times award for Best Male Dancer: Vadim Muntagirov
Tendu Award for Best Female Dancer: Marianela Nuñez
De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement: Mark Baldwin OBE
The National Dance Awards are voted on by the members of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle, the UK’s association of dance critics. The 2018 awards are for performances in the UK between September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018.
Chairman of the Awards committee, Graham Watts OBE, stressed the diversity of the award winners and nominees. “These awards celebrate excellence across a rich diversity of dance forms that have both entertained and challenged us over the past year. For the first time, both choreography awards have been won by women and we also have the first award proper going to a flamenco artist; an award for a kathak-based performance, as well as two awards going to the hugely successful Ballet Black. And the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company goes to Taiwan, in the form of Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan, a regular visitor to Sadler’s Wells in the 45 years since it was founded by Lin Hwai-min. Taken altogether these awards show that dance is a diverse, global art form and that this world of dance can be seen here in the UK.”