Outstanding Achievement Award for Sylvie Guillem at the National Dance Awards

The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for 2015 were presented on Monday at a ceremony hosted by Arlene Phillips CBE at The Place, London.

Unusually, two De Valois Awards for Outstanding Achievement were given this year, recognising the unique achievements of two special women who have stamped an indelible mark on dance in very different ways.

Sylvie Guillem, the most famous ballerina of her generation, brought her illustrious 30-year dance career to an end with the year-long Life in Progress tour; and over her ten-year tenure as the Chief Executive of Dance UK, Caroline Miller succeeded in giving dance a political voice and brought together four major dance organisations in a merger that has produced One Dance UK; a truly national organisation to represent all facets of the dance profession.

Although this was generally a year of new winners, Wayne McGregor picked up his fourth award, winning the Best Classical Choreography for Woolf Works, his triptych of one act ballets based on the life and work of Virginia Woolf for The Royal Ballet. The 52-year-old Italian ballerina, Alessandra Ferri, formerly a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet, now based in the USA, returned to Covent Garden as a guest artist in the piece, a performance for which she won the Grishko Award for Best Female Dancer; the first dancer over the age of fifty to do so.

Zizi Strallen as Lana in The Car ManPhoto Johan Persson
Zizi Strallen as Lana in The Car Man
Photo Johan Persson

Sir Matthew Bourne’s company, New Adventures, won the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company for the first time; and New Adventures’ dancer, Zizi Strallen won the award for Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) for her portrayal of Lana in The Car Man.

The award for Best Modern Choreography was a first NDA for the Canadian choreographer, Crystal Pite, recognising her work, Polaris, for Sadler’s Wells; and the award for Outstanding Male Performance (Modern) was won by Lost Dog’s Ben Duke for his one-man show, Paradise Lost [lies unopened beside me].

This year’s Best Independent Company was the midlands-based Rosie Kay Dance Company. Kay was also nominated for Best Modern Choreography for her work, 5 Soldiers.

For the second successive year, a young dancer from The Royal Ballet won the highly competitive Emerging Artist Award with first artist, Matthew Ball this year’s recipient. Ball was also nominated for the Outstanding Male Classical performance for his role as Lensky in Onegin.

It was a record year for awards to The Royal Ballet. In addition to McGregor, Ferri and Ball, Vadim Muntagirov won the Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer and Laura Morera won the award for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) for her exceptional portrayal of Lise in La Fille mal gardée.

William Bracewell as Louis XIV, Le Roi Soleil, in The King DancesPhoto Bill Cooper
William Bracewell as Louis XIV, Le Roi Soleil, in The King Dances
Photo Bill Cooper

William Bracewell of Birmingham Royal Ballet won the award for Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) for his performance as Le Roi Soleil in David Bintley’s The King Dances.

The NDA Committee for 2015 awarded a high commendation for exceptional artistry to two great contemporary flamenco artists, Israel Galván and Rocío Molina.

And the Dance UK Industry Award, determined by a separate panel of judges chosen by Dance UK, went to Tamara McLorg, the internationally-renowned dance educator and choreographer.

With the exception of the Dance UK award, the National Dance Awards are decided by the 50-plus members of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle. To be eligible, performances had to be given in the UK between September 1, 2014 and August 31, 2015.