Founder Chair and Patron Bob Lockyer
Bob Lockyer spent over 40 years working at the BBC, rising to become an executive producer in the Classical Music Department, with responsibility for dance programming, including the Dance for Camera series, films from which attracted major international awards, including the Prix Italia. He reformed BBC Young Musicians, extending it beyond the popular search to find some of Britain’s most talented young musicians by giving young composers and conductors the chance to work with the BBC Philharmonic and looking at music therapy and jazz. For over ten years Bob has been running workshops on dance and the camera, visiting Australia, South Africa, Canada and the United Kingdom.
Bob was the Founder Chair of Dance UK. He also helped establish the much admired Healthier Dancer Programme that has been copied all over the world. Until recently, Bob was Chair of South East Dance, the national dance agency, based in Brighton.
Robert Cohan CBE
Born in New York in 1925, Robert Cohan trained at the Martha Graham School, and began his professional career in dance when he joined the Martha Graham Dance Company in 1946. He quickly moved to soloist and then performed throughout the world as a partner to Graham herself. He left in 1957 to start his own small group of dancers and started his long career as a choreographer.
Returning to the Graham Company in 1962 for its European tour he soon became a Co-Director of the Company with Bertram Ross. In 1967, at the invitation of Robin Howard, he became the first Artistic Director of the Contemporary Dance Trust in London and as such was the founder Artistic Director of The Place, London Contemporary Dance School and London Contemporary Dance Theatre, which he directed for the next 20 years.
Robert Cohan’s influence on the development of modern dance in Britain has been considerable. Having pioneered the teaching of contemporary dance technique in Britain, he was instrumental in the development of a vast following, not only for the repertory of LCDT in the 70s and 80s but through his pioneering residencies throughout the country, which laid the groundwork for the many other British companies that have grown up in the last twenty tears.
As director of LCDT he created many works for the Company in collaboration with leading composers and designers. Among them are Stages, No Man’s Land, Stabat Mater, Forest, Testament, the full length Dances of Love and Death (commissioned for the Edinburgh Festival), Ceremony, Interrogations, Agora, Phantasmagoria and Video Life.
BBC TV, who commissioned A Mass for Man broadcast in 1985, has also broadcast his Waterless Method of Swimming Instruction, Cell, Forest, Stabat Mater and Nympheas.
Since 1989 he has been working freelance and has choreographed several ballets for Scottish Ballet as well as companies in Germany and Italy. He was the Artistic Advisor to the Batsheva Dance Company from 1980 to 1990 and choreographed several works for them and the Bat Dor Company.
Robert Cohan has been continually in demand as a director of choreographic courses, notably the International Course for Professional Choreographers and Composers which he directed six times. He has also directed professional choreographic courses in New Zealand and Canada.
As a teacher of contemporary dance he has taught extensively. Besides being a senior teacher at the Martha Graham School he worked at The Julliard School, Harvard, Radcliffe, and the University of Rochester in the US, York University in Toronto and at many colleges and universities in the UK.
With LCDT he won the 1975 Evening Standard Award for The Most Outstanding Achievement In Ballet and in 1978 a similar award from the Society of West End Theatre (now the Laurence Olivier Award). He has also been given several honorary doctorates including from the Universities of Kent, Exeter and Middlesex.
In 1988 Robert Cohan was awarded an honorary CBE in recognition of his outstanding contribution to dance in the United Kingdom. He has since taken British nationality.
In 2005, Robert's 80th birthday was celebrated a symposium at The Place and a gala performance featuring Richard Alston Dance Company, Phoenix Dance Theatre and Ballet Theater Munich at Sadler's Wells.
Gillian Lynne CBE
Miss Lynne was born in Bromley, Kent, and was a precocious dance talent from an early age.
Miss Lynne's gift for dancing was discovered by a doctor, who encouraged Lynne's mother to take her to dance school.
While dancing for Molly Lake’s Company at the People's Palace she was spotted by Dame Ninette de Valois and asked to join Sadler's Wells Ballet during World War II. With the opening of the Royal Opera House after the War she received her first major solo in Sleeping Beauty on her 20th birthday. She went on to become an admired dramatic ballerina in the soon to be re-named Royal Ballet.
Leaving Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1951 she was an instant success at the London Palladium as the star dancer and subsequently a pro in the West End, worthily winning the 1987 BAFTA Huw Wheldon Award for her direction and choreography of A Simple Man.
Miss Lynne married the actor/singer Peter Land in 1980, and her production company Lean Two Productions continues to produce television, film and stage productions.
Sir Nicholas Hytner
Nicholas Hytner became Director of the National Theatre in 2003. Under his directorship, the National has brought in a new community of artists, produced in equal measure the classical repertoire and new work, and introduced the Travelex £10 ticket seasons. He has directed many productions at the National including London Assurance, The Habit of Art, Phèdre, England People Very Nice, Major Barbara, Much Ado About Nothing, Rafta Rafta…, The Man of Mode, The Alchemist, Southwark Fair, Henry IV Parts 1 and 2, His Dark Materials, The History Boys, Stuff Happens, Henry V, The Winter’s Tale, Mother Clap’s Molly House, Ghetto, The Wind in the Willows, The Madness of George III and Carousel.
He was educated at Cambridge University and worked widely in repertory theatre, at the Northcott Theatre Exeter, Leeds Playhouse, the Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company. Other London theatre work has included Miss Saigon (also Broadway and worldwide), The Importance of Being Earnest and The Lady in the Van. His film credits include The History Boys, The Madness of King George and The Crucible.
His first opera productions were for Kent Opera, for which he directed Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro and Tippett’s King Priam. Other opera productions include, for the Royal Opera House, Verdi’s Don Carlo; for English National Opera: Wagner’s Rienzi, Handel’s Xerxes, Mozart’s The Magic Flute and Verdi’s The Force of Destiny; for Glyndebourne: Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte and La Clemenza Di Tito; for the Paris Opera: Handel’s Giulio Cesare; for the Theatre du Chatelet, Paris: Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen; for the Geneva Opera: Mozart’s Le Nozze Di Figaro; and for the Bavarian State Opera, Munich: Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
He has received, in addition to the BAFTA and Evening Standard awards for best British film, many other awards including three Olivier Awards, two Evening Standard Awards, the London Critics’ Circle Award, two NY Drama Desk Awards and two Tony Awards. He was Visiting Professor of Theatre at Oxford University in 2000. He is Honorary Fellow of Trinity Hall Cambridge and a member of the Board of the Royal Opera House.
Lord Smith of Finsbury
Chris Smith was born in 1951, and was educated at George Watson's College, Edinburgh, and Pembroke College, Cambridge where he took a double first in English. He was a Kennedy Scholar at Harvard, and completed his Cambridge PhD on Wordsworth and Coleridge in 1979. He was a Labour Councillor for Islington Borough for five years, and was Chairman of Housing from 1981 to 1983. In 1983 he became MP for Islington South and Finsbury. He served on the Environment Select Committee until 1986, and sponsored a Private Member's Bill, the Environment and Safety Information Act, in 1988.
In 1992 he joined the Shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Environmental Protection, and two years later moved to Heritage, then Social Security and Health. When Labour came to power in 1997 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, and Chairman of the Millennium Commission.
He returned to the back benches after the 2001 election, took a prominent role in opposing the war in Iraq, and stood down from the House of Commons in 2005. Immediately afterwards he was created a life peer, taking the title of Lord Smith of Finsbury, and took his seat in the House of Lords in July 2005.
From 2003 Chris was Director of the Clore Leadership Programme, which aims to help develop a new generation of leaders for the cultural sector in the UK. He stepped down from this position in July 2008, in order to become Chairman of the Environment Agency. Since July 2007 he has also been the Chairman of the Advertising Standards Authority. From 1992 to 2007 he was President of SERA; from 2004 to 2008 he was President of the Ramblers' Association; and in 2004 he was Chairman of the Judges for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
He was a Member of the Committee on Standards in Public Life from 2001 to 2005. He is also Chairman of the Wordsworth Trust and Chairman of the Donmar Warehouse Theatre. He is a Visiting Professor in Culture and the Creative Industries at the University of the Arts London, and an honorary Fellow of Pembroke College Cambridge.