The 21st National Dance Awards nominations announced

David Mead

The short-lists of nominations for the 21st National Dance Awards have been announced by the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle, the UK association of professional dance critics. The lists are taken from nominations by the Dance Section members, thirty of whom participated in the judging process this year.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, the qualifying period for performances, both live in the UK and digital (available in the UK) was extended by four months, so covers September 2019 to December 2020.

Adél Bálint in Draw from WithinPhoto Camilla Greenwell
Adél Bálint in Draw from Within,
by Wim Vandekeybus for Rambert,
nominated for Best Digital Choreography
Photo Camilla Greenwell

Four new awards have been introduced this year to recognise the dance sector’s response to the pandemic: Best Company Response to the Pandemic, Best Digital Choreography, Best Dance Film and Best Short Dance Film.

Once again, The Royal Ballet tops the list with a record total of 18 nominations (up from 15 in 2019), followed by English National Ballet (9), Birmingham Royal Ballet (6), Scottish Ballet (5) and Rambert (4).

In total there were a remarkable 456 companies, choreographers, performers and other creative artists nominated (up from 418 in 2019).

The winners will be announced at an online ceremony to be streamed on Sunday, June 27, 2021. The event will also play host to the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement for which there are no prior nominations.

Elle Macy and Dylan Wald in Jessica Lang’s Ghost VariationsPhoto Lindsay Thomas
Elle Macy and Dylan Wald in Jessica Lang’s Ghost Variations,
also nominated for Best Digital Choreography Photo Lindsay Thomas

The shortlisted nominees are:

Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer

Matthew Ball (The Royal Ballet)
Jeffrey Cirio (English National Ballet)
César Morales (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
Vadim Muntagirov (The Royal Ballet)
Marcelino Sambé (The Royal Ballet)

Best Female Dancer (sponsored by Tendu)

Alina Cojocaru (English National Ballet)
Lauren Cuthbertson (The Royal Ballet)
Simone Damberg Würtz (Rambert)
Marianela Nuñez (The Royal Ballet)
Anna Rose O’Sullivan (The Royal Ballet)

Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
Northern Ballet
Richard Alston Dance Company
The Royal Ballet
Scottish Ballet

Best Independent Company (sponsored By Marquee TV)

2Faced Dance
Acosta Danza
Boy Blue Entertainment
Rhiannon Faith Company
Scottish Dance Theatre

Best Classical Choreography (sponsored by The Ballet Association)

Cathy Marston for The Cellist (The Royal Ballet)
Kenneth Tindall for Geisha (Northern Ballet)
Kenneth Tindall for The Shape of Sound (Northern Ballet)
Will Tuckett for Lazuli Sky (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
Valentino Zucchetti for Scherzo (The Royal Ballet)

Dada Masilo as Giselle and Llewellyn Mnguni as MyrthaPhoto Laurent Philippe
Dada Masilo as Giselle and Llewellyn Mnguni as Myrtha
Photo Laurent Philippe

Best Modern Choreography (sponsored by Harlequin Floors)

Michael Keegan-Dolan for MÁM (Teać Damsa)
Dada Masilo for Giselle (Dada Masilo)
Crystal Pite & Jonathon Young for Revisor (Kidd Pivot)
Luca Silvestrini for The Little Prince (Luca Silvestrini’s Protein)
Gisèle Vienne for Crowd (Gisèle Vienne/Dance Umbrella)

Emerging Artist Award (sponsored by The L&M Trust)

Aitor Arrieta (First Soloist, English National Ballet)
Jerome Anthony Barnes (Soloist, Scottish Ballet)
Leo Dixon (First Artist, The Royal Ballet)
Azara Meghie (Multi-disciplinary Artist)
Arielle Smith (Choreographer)

Outstanding Female Modern Performance

Jemima Brown in Step Sonic (Tom Dale Company)
Oona Doherty in Hope Hunt (and the ascension into Lazarus) (Oona Doherty/Dance Umbrella)
Dana Fouras in MaliphantWorks3 (Russell Maliphant Dance Company)
Dada Masilo in the title role in Giselle (Dada Masilo)
Rachel Poirier in MÁM (Teać Damsa)

Outstanding Male Modern Performance

Dane Hurst in Staging Schiele (Shobana Jeyasingh Dance)
Llewellyn Mnguni as Myrtha in Giselle (Dada Masilo)
Guillaume Quéau in Draw From Within (Rambert)
Kenrick H20 Sandy in REDD (Boy Blue Entertainment)
Jermaine Spivey in Revisor (Kidd Pivot)

Momoko Hirata and César Morales in GisellePhoto Bill Cooper
Momoko Hirata and César Morales of Birmingham Royal Ballet
both nominated for Outstanding Classical Performance for Giselle
Photo Bill Cooper

Outstanding Female Classical Performance (sponsored By Lee Mclernon)

Begoña Cao in Five Brahms Waltzes in the Manner of Isadora Duncan (Viviana Durante Company)
Lauren Cuthbertson in The Cellist (The Royal Ballet)
Momoko Hirata in the title role in Giselle (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
Fumi Kaneko as Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty (The Royal Ballet)
Beatriz Stix-Brunel in The Cellist (The Royal Ballet)

Outstanding Male Classical Performance

Matthew Ball as Lensky in Onegin (The Royal Ballet)
William Bracewell in Dances at a Gathering (The Royal Ballet)
Jeffrey Cirio as Conrad in Le Corsaire (English National Ballet)
César Morales as Albrecht in Giselle (Birmingham Royal Ballet)
Marcelino Sambé as the Instrument in The Cellist (The Royal Ballet)

Outstanding Creative Contribution

Koen Kessels (conductor; Music Director, The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet)
John Macfarlane (artist and designer)
Frank Moon (composer and musician)
Jess and Morgs (film-makers)
Jeannie Steele/ Philip Selway (Celebrating Merce Cunningham’s Centenary)

Best Company Response to the Pandemic

Birmingham Royal Ballet
Dutch National Ballet
English National Ballet
New York City Ballet
Scottish Ballet

A moment from Take Five Blues by Stina QuagebeurPhoto English National Ballet
A moment from Take Five Blues by Stina Quagebeur
Photo English National Ballet

Best Digital Choreography

Rhiannon Faith for Drowntown Lockdown (Rhiannon Faith Company)
Jessica Lang for Ghost Variations (Pacific Northwest Ballet)
Stina Quagebeur for Take Five Blues (English National Ballet)
Arielle Smith for Jolly Folly (English National Ballet)
Wim Vandekeybus for Draw From Within (Rambert)

Best Dance Film (sponsored by Marquee TV)

English National Ballet for the five new films in their digital season (Laid in Earth / Echoes / Senseless Kindness / Jolly Folly / Take Five Blues)
Paul Lightfoot and Sol Léon for Standby / She Remembers
Michael Nunn and William Trevitt for Romeo and Juliet Beyond Words
Alice Pennefather for her dance films in the Summer Shorts Festival (Dreams of Giverny / The Sun is God / Esprit du Jardin / In Her Hands)
Scottish Ballet for The Secret Theatre

Best Short Dance Film (sponsored by Irving & Olga David)

Alleyne Dance for (Re)United (Alleyne Dance)
Corey Baker Dance for Swan Lake Bath Ballet (Corey Baker Dance)
Sophie Laplane for Indoors (Scottish Ballet)
Lost Dog for In a Nutshell (Lost Dog)
Christopher Wheeldon for Boléro (The Royal Ballet)

Chair of the National Dance Awards, Graham Watts, said, “This has been a terrible year for the arts and dance and dancers have suffered from the enforced absence of live performance.  A streak of a silver lining has been in the innovative and enthusiastic way in which dance has adapted to utilising a digital outlet in a significant way.  This has opened the opportunity for critics in the UK to see companies from overseas without stepping onto an aeroplane or Eurostar and, as a consequence, we are delighted to include nominees from Dutch National Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater, New York City Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet based upon their digital output, alongside the recognition of Alvin Ailey’s American Dance Theater for their live performances at Sadler’s Wells back in September 2019.   There has certainly been no absence of dance talent to enjoy during these dark days of closed theatres.”