National Dance Awards 2021 nominations announced

The Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle has announced the short-listed nominations for the National Dance Awards 2021, which cover performances, both live in the UK and digital (available in the UK) 1st January and 31st December that year.

The short-listed nominees are taken from nominations made by the members of the Dance section of the Critics’ Circle.

In total there were 355 companies, choreographers, performers and other creative artists nominated (down from 456 in 2020), which evidences the fact that a part of the year was spent in lockdown.

Christopher Harrison and Sophie Martin in Starstruck
Photo Gavin Smart

This year’s nominations recognise the genius of two choreographers who are no longer alive. Firstly, in nominating the revival and reimagining of Gene Kelly’s Pas de Dieux – originally choreographed for Paris Opera Ballet, in 1960 – and now revisited by Scottish Ballet with a new title, Starstruck, with Kelly’s original choreography recreated and reimagined by Christopher Hampson, working with Kelly’s widow, Patricia. Starstruck is nominated for both the Best Classical Choreography and Best Dance Film.

Sir Robert Cohan is also nominated posthumously for his final work Afternoon Conversations with Dancers, performed by Yorke Dance Project. Sir Robert died in January 2021 having completed the work with dancers remotely over Zoom but prior to its first live performance in November 2021.

Robert Cohan’s Afternoon Conversations with Dancers
(pictured: Romany Pajdak)
Photo Pierre Tappon

Once again, The Royal Ballet tops the list with a total of 17 nominations, followed by English National Ballet and New Adventures (7 apiece), Birmingham Royal Ballet (4), and Ballet Black, Scottish Ballet and Yorke Dance Project (3 each). There was a wide spread of nominations covering over 25 separate companies.

In terms of individual productions, Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell tops the list with five nominations, just ahead of Wayne McGregor’s The Dante Project for The Royal Ballet, which has four nominations.

The winners will be revealed at a ceremony to be held at a date to be announced. The event will also play host to the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement for which there are no prior nominations.

The short-listed nominees are:

Best Male Dancer
Jeffrey Cirio
Francesco Gabrielle Frola
Brandon Lawrence
Vadim Muntagirov
Edward Watson

Best Female Dancer
Momoko Hirata
Marianela Nuñez
Natalia Osipova
Cira Robinson
Erina Takahashi

Outstanding Company
English National Ballet
New Adventures
Northern Ballet
The Royal Ballet

Best Mid-Scale Company
Ballet Black
Ballet Cymru
Hofesh Shechter Company
Scottish Dance Theatre

Best Independent Company
Amina Khayyam Dance Company
Far From The Norm
Rhiannon Faith Company
Yorke Dance Project

Best Classical Choreography
Gene Kelly and Christopher Hampson for Starstruck
Wayne McGregor for The Dante Project
Mthuthuzeli November for The Waiting Game
Arielle Smith for Jolly Folly
Valentino Zucchetti for Anemoi

Best Modern Choreography
Miguel Altunaga for City of a Thousand Trades
Matthew Bourne for The Midnight Bell
Robert Cohan for Afternoon Conversations with Dancers
Dimitris Papaioannou for Transverse Orientation
Botis Seva for BLKDG

Outstanding Female Classical Performance
Antoinette Brooks-Daw for Merlin
Alessandra Ferri for L’Heure exquise
Marianela Nuñez for Giselle
Natalia Osipova for Giselle
Beatrix Stix-Brunel for After the Rain

Outstanding Male Classical Performance
Jeffrey Cirio for Creature
Vadim Muntagirov for Apollo
Edward Watson for The Dante Project
Tyrone Singleton for Radio and Juliet
Joseph Sissens for The Statement

Outstanding Female Modern Performance
Cordelia Braithwaite for Nutcracker!
Sutton Foster for Anything Goes
Rosie Kay for Absolute Solo 2
Michela Meazza for The Midnight Bell
Yolande Yorke-Edgell for Lamentations

Outstanding Male Modern Performance
Dan Daw for The Dan Daw Show
Paris Fitzpatrick for The Midnight Bell
Akram Khan for Xenos
James Van Am Phan for Outwitting the Devil
Richard Winsor for The Midnight Bell

Emerging Artist
Nafisah Baba – dancer
Lanre Malaolu – choreographer and writer
Bruno Micchiardi – dancer
Gina Storm-Jensen – dancer
Emily Suzuki – dancer

Outstanding Creative Artist
Thomas Adès – composer
Richard Berg – composer
Les Brotherston – designer
Tacita Dean – designer
Logela Multimedia – digital imagery

Best Digital Film
Kyle Abraham/New York City Ballet for When We Fell
Rhiannon Faith/ Rhiannon Faith Company for DROWNTOWN
William Forsythe/CLI Studios for The Barre Project
Gene Kelly/Christopher Hampson/Scottish Ballet for Starstruck
Jo Strømgren/Rambert for Rooms

Jeffrey Cirio as the Creature with Victor-Prigent as Andres
in Akram Khan’s Creature for English National Ballet
Photo Ambra Vernucci

The Chair of the National Dance Awards, Graham Watts, said: “The 2021 dance year was reduced to around seven months’ of live performances and so there was less scope for the critics to make nominations. However, what we lacked in quantity was more than compensated by the outstanding quality of the work presented and the choices in all categories were closely contested with at least 20 on the long list for each award. The Company awards have been traditionally difficult to judge with the mid-scale companies often being squeezed out of consideration and so, in response to requests from the sector itself, we have introduced a new (third) company award for companies that receive NPO funding or equivalent, which will sit between the Outstanding Company and Best Independent Company awards. This has enabled companies from across the sector, from the largest to the smallest project-based freelancers, to be recognised”.