The Bonnie Bird Choreography Fund supports the research and development of new choreography. The Fund's portfolio of awards named The Bonnies include The Bonnie Bird New Choreography Award, The Bonnie Bird Choreographic Development Awards and The Lifetime Contribution to Choreography Award. Awarded biannually, the Lifetime Contribution to Choreography Award celebrates and acknowledges those who have made exceptional lifetime contributions to the specific development of choreography and choreographic practice in the UK. Previous honourees were Rosemary Butcher in 2015 and Robert Cohan in 2017.
The awards ceremony was held at Phoenix Dance Theatre in Leeds on 13 February 2020.
Sue MacLennan went to Dartington College of Arts in the late 60s to study dance and drama. Encountering Rosemary Butcher there triggered a lifelong interest in harnessing the creativity of the dancers as an essential element of choreography. A spirit of collaboration with performers, composers and visual artists has always been a strong element of her work. Later MacLennan danced for Rosemary’s company for over 10 years, choreographed her own work from 1977 and formed her own company in 1985. The company produced programmes of work that featured the dancers’ own pieces, work made with local students as well as extended improvisation alongside highly structured choreography.
Through the 80s MacLennan was involved in the collective ways of supporting new dance work initially through Chisenhale Dance Space and later curated programmes of new choreography at the South Bank Centre. In the mid 90s she was part of the development of work with new technology leading to several works with live and mediated video and animation.
In 95 she joined the faculty of LCDS and, ever since, has been supporting and encouraging the work of both young dance artists and mature postgraduate choreographers whilst continuing her own artistic research.
Of receiving the award, Sue says: “I am thrilled, honoured and very surprised to receive this tribute. It has been a huge privilege to work and exchange ideas with so many artists, young and not so young over the years. To learn from those I danced for and those I danced with as well as being able to continue to learn from the brilliant students I encounter now is a great joy.”