The winners of The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2017 were announced earlier today (February 19) at a ceremony at London’s Barbican Centre hosted by award-winning choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa and Rambert dancer and choreographer, Dane Hurst.
The awards cover performances in the UK between September 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017, and are voted for the dance critics.
The premiere award, the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement, went to Tony and Olivier Award-winning theatre designer Lez Brotherston, the first designer to win a National Dance Award. He has designed extensively in theatre, opera, dance and film, and in dance has had long-term working relationships with Christoper Gable and Northern Ballet, and Matthew Bourne.
After being nominated a record six times, Richard Alston Dance Company’s Liam Riddick was presented with The Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer whilst The Royal Ballet’s Zenaida Yanowsky took The Grishko Award for Best Female Dancer, her third award having won Best Female Dancer in 2003 and Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) in 2016.
HeadSpaceDance, the brainchild of Charlotte Broom and Christopher Akrill was named Best Independent Company. The company most recently successfully toured Arthur Pita’s Stepmother/Stepfather, a perverse and disturbing double-bill.
Musical theatre productions received awards for the very first time at this year’s ceremony as Arlene Phillips presented the company of 42nd Street with The Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company, the first award to a production ensemble. It will come as no surprise to anyone who caught his stellar performances as Jerry Mulligan in Christopher Wheeldon’s An American in Paris that former New York City Ballet principal, Robert Fairchild, picked up the award for Outstanding Male Performance (Modern).
Akram Khan’s Giselle for English National Ballet picked up two awards. In his first win for classical dance, Khan took home his seventh National Dance Award with Best Classical Choreography and has now won more times than anyone else having previously been presented with Emerging Artist (2000), Outstanding Male performance (Modern) (2005), Best Male dancer (2012) and three awards for Best Modern Choreography (2003, 2011 and 2014). Artistic Director of English National Ballet, Tamara Rojo accepted the award on behalf of Akram Khan who is premiering his new show in Athens.
After waiting fifteen years since her last award, having won Best Female Dancer in 2002, Alina Cojocaru received the Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) prize for her performance as Giselle.
Michael Keegan-Dolan won the award for Best Modern Choreography for his dark and disturbing Swan Lake/Loch na hEala with Teaċ Damsa, his second win in the category after he won the award in 2007 for The Bull.
Harry Alexander, performer with Michael Clark Company and Julie Cunningham & Company broke The Royal Ballet’s recent monopoly by receiving the Emerging Artist Award, the first Modern dancer to take home the award.
Marcelino Sambé and Ashley Shaw received their first National Dance Awards with Sambé taking the Dance Europe Award for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) for his performance as Colas in La Fille mal gardée, and Ashley Shaw taking home the Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) award for her performance as Vicky Page in Matthew Bourne’s The Red Shoes. Shaw’s win marks the second time a New Adventures dancer has won the Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) award in the past three years following Zizi Strallen’s win for The Car Man.
Scottish dance critic, Mary Brennan won the Jane Attenborough One Dance UK Industry Award, the third British dance critic to receive an award following Ivor Guest (2006) and Jann Parry (2010) both of whom won the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement.
Chairman of the Awards committee, Graham Watts OBE, said; “There was a superb array of nominations from dancers, choreographers and companies from all over the world and every award was very closely-contested in the voting. It was excellent to have a composer nominated for the first time and a wonderful tribute to recognise the outstanding achievements of Lez Brotherston in the richness of his designs over so many years. It is also timely to recognise musical theatre with two awards when the quality of dance in musicals has been so high. I am also personally delighted to see a contemporary dancer win the Emerging Artist Award.”
Summary of winners:
De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement: Lez Brotherston
Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer: Liam Riddick
Grishko Award for Best Female Dancer: Zenaida Yanowsky
Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company: 42nd Street
Best Independent Company: Headspacedance
Best Classical Choreography: Akram Khan for his Giselle
Best Modern Choreography: Michael Keegan-Dolan for Swan Lake/Loch na hEala’
Emerging Artist: Award Harry Alexander
Outstanding Female Performance (Classical): Alina Cojocaru as Giselle in Akram Khan’s Giselle
Dance Europe Award for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical): Marcelino Sambé as Colas in La Fille mal gardée
Outstanding Female Performance (Modern): Ashley Shaw as Vicky Page in The Red Shoes
Outstanding Male Performance (Modern): Robert Fairchild as Jerry Mulligan in An American in Paris
Jane Attenborough One Dance UK Industry Award: Mary Brennan