It has been a great year for dance and after LCDS has been recognised at the inaugural One Dance UK awards 2018 with two distinctions going to our outstanding Healthcare Team, we at The Place are delighted that the dance sector has again been celebrated in this year's New Year’s Honours List.
We are particularly thrilled about our very own Sir Richard Alston, who was given a knighthood by Her Majesty the Queen for services to Dance, Professor Veronica Lewis, former Principal of LCDS and Joint Principal of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, who has been awarded a CBE for services to Higher Education in Dance, Drama and Circus Arts in the UK and Abroad, LCDS alumnus Farooq Chaudhry, co-founder and Producer of Akram Khan Company, former creative producer for English National Ballet and former Chair of Dance UK, who was awarded an OBE for services to Dance and Dance Production and LCDS alumnus Anthony van Laast, choreographer of West End and Broadway hits such as Mamma Mia!, who was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to Dance and Choreography. Anthony, who is also a Patron of The Place, will return to present a lecture demonstration in March this year in our theatre.
Further honours for the dance sector include an MBE for Sujata Banerjee, Artistic Director of Sujata Banerjee Dance Company and leading South Asian dance and Kathak artist. Darius James, founder of Ballet Cymru was appointed as OBE for services to Ballet and community Dance while former Royal Ballet soloist Xander Parish, who in 2010 became the first ever British dancer to join the Mariinsky Ballet, was awarded an OBE for services to dance and UK Russia cultural relations.
While the knighthood for Richard Alston is immensely thrilling and so well deserved for five decades of choreography, it is also especially significant for the contemporary dance scene. A knighthood doesn’t happen every day and of the eight Sirs and seven Dames honoured for services to dance – all appointed by the current Queen Elisabeth II by the way – almost all of them achieved their success in classical dance, leading journalist Graham Watts, himself an OBE, to lovingly call them ‘the ballet knights’.
Indeed, Sir Matthew Bourne, appointed in 2016, was the first contemporary dance maker awarded with the title and is now followed by Richard’s appointment, which marks the very first knighthood here at The Place, a wonderful distinction as we head towards the 50th anniversary of the organisation in autumn this year. It takes time to build a legacy and Richard has been devoted to dance and dancers for 5 decades. Congratulations and thank you, Sir Richard!
The full Honours list can be found here.