The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for 2015 were presented on 25 January at a ceremony in London, hosted by Arlene Phillips CBE.
Unusually, the judges decided to give two De Valois Awards for Outstanding Achievement in 2015 to recognise that the unique achievements of two women over the past year merited this ultimate accolade.
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. Both these extraordinary women have stamped an indelible mark on dance in very different ways. Miller’s award was presented by the internationally-renowned ballerina, Tamara Rojo CBE, artistic director of English National Ballet.
Although this was generally a year of new winners, the choreographer, 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 to star in Woolf Works, for which she won the Grishko Award for Best Female Dancer; the first dancer over the age of fifty to do so.
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 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. Her citation was read by the choreographer, Royston Maldoom
With the exception of the Dance UK award, the National Dance Awards are decided by the 50+ members of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle after an extensive round of nominations and voting. To be eligible, performances had to be given in the UK between 1st September 2014 and 31st August 2015.
The full list of winners is given below:
CRITICS’ CIRCLE NATIONAL DANCE AWARDS WINNERS 2015
GRISHKO AWARD FOR EMERGING ARTIST
Matthew Ball (first artist, The Royal Ballet)
JANE ATTENBOROUGH DANCE UK INDUSTRY AWARD
BEST CLASSICAL CHOREOGRAPHY
Wayne McGregor for Woolf Works by The Royal Ballet
BEST MODERN CHOREOGRAPHY
Crystal Pite for Polaris for Sadler’s Wells
OUTSTANDING FEMALE PERFORMANCE (CLASSICAL)
Laura Morera as Lise in La Fille mal gardée for The Royal Ballet
OUTSTANDING MALE PERFORMANCE (MODERN)
Ben Duke in Paradise Lost [lies unopened beside me] for Lost Dog
OUTSTANDING MALE PERFORMANCE (CLASSICAL)
William Bracewell as Le Roi Soleil in The King Dances for Birmingham Royal Ballet
OUTSTANDING FEMALE PERFORMANCE (MODERN)
Zizi Strallen as Lana in The Car Man for New Adventures
SPECIAL AWARD FOR EXCEPTIONAL ARTISTRY
Israel Galván and Rocío Molina
BEST INDEPENDENT COMPANY
Rosie Kay Dance Company
GRISHKO AWARD FOR BEST FEMALE DANCER
DANCING TIMES AWARD FOR BEST MALE DANCER
STEF STEFANOU AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING COMPANY
DE VALOIS AWARDS FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT
Sylvie Guillem CBE
Speaking at the event, Arlene Phillips CBE said: “I am thrilled to have presented the National Dance Awards for 2015. It has been another wonderful year of dance as illustrated by the breadth of wonderful nominations for these awards. Choreography and dancers have been outstanding in every category and my congratulations go to all the nominees and the winners”.
The Chairman of the Awards committee, Graham Watts OBE, said: ‘Over 400 dancers, choreographers and companies were deemed of such high quality by critics to be recommended for an award this year. A new record that surpasses the one set, last year. It has clearly been a bumper year with nominees coming from a range of genres and companies. In particular, it has been a year in which nine nominations come from dancers and choreographers who originate from – or still reside in – Spain. These awards celebrate excellence across a rich diversity of dance forms that have both entertained and challenged us over the past year. ’
The dance section of the Critics’ Circle is delighted and honoured to honour the 2015 National Dance Awards Sponsors:
Grishko, Dancing Times, Stef Stefanou, The Critics’ Circle, The Ballet Association, Lee McLernon, The Office of Architectural Culture, Dance UK, Sprizzato and the Construction Industry Council.
The next National Dance Awards are scheduled to be held in London on 23rd January 2017.