The Royal Ballet’s Natalia Osipova and Jonathan Goddard, best known for his playing of Dracula for Mark Bruce Company and his work with New Movement Collective led the way at the 2014 National Dance Awards, both becoming the first dancers to pick up two awards at the same ceremony.
Both winners were enthusiastically received by a packed Robin Howard Dance Theatre at The Place, as critics, dancers, choreographers and directors gathered to celebrate all that is good in dance in Britain. Hosted by Arlene Phillips CBE and voted for by members of the Dance Section of the Critics Circle, this year’s awards covered the period September 2013 to August 2014, with any company or dancer that has appeared in the UK eligible. Those critics made a record 383 recommendations, from which 46 nominees emerged.
Osipova first collected Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) for her outstanding portrayal in the title role of “Giselle”, which she described as, “A very special part for me,” before going on to also receive the Grishko Award for Best Female Dancer for her work with The Royal Ballet and Ardani Productions.
Goddard, meanwhile, first collected Outstanding Male Performance (Modern) for the title role in Mark Bruce’s “Dracula”, joking that he had “left my fangs at home.” He later picked up the Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer for the second time, having previously won it in 2008.
In fact, it turned out to be quite an afternoon for The Royal Ballet and Mark Bruce Company generally, the latter also winning the Best Independent Company category, for ensembles that do not have a regular home or theatre.
Apart from Osipova, The Royal Ballet’s dancers and associates picked up three other awards. Christopher Wheeldon won Best Classical Choreography for “The Winter’s Tale”, which Director Kevin O’Hare called “A brilliant new narrative ballet.” A new prize this year, the Emerging Artist Award (for individuals not previously nominated) also went to Covent Garden, to fast rising soloist Francesca Hayward. But most popular of all was Carlos Acosta’s collection of the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement. In a passionate and sometimes moving thank you speech, he paid tribute to Britain as a country for welcoming him, and all those who had supported and encouraged his dance, especially Monica Mason, who he explained persuaded him not to join American Ballet Theatre during a long transatlantic telephone call, and Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director Alistair Spalding for taking a chance, giving him a chance and commissioning a show from him.
The Award for Best Modern Choreography went to Akram Khan for “Dust” for English National Ballet. Collecting the award on his behalf, Artistic Director Tamara Rojo commented that it had been a privilege to have Khan working with ENB. She said it had been a “moving and inspiring experience,” and that she looked forward to working with him again when he creates a new “Giselle” for the company in 2016. This was Khan’s third choreographic award to add to three awards as a performer.
The Royal Ballet missed out on the top award for the big companies, though, the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company going to English National Ballet. Rojo looked totally surprised and delighted as the winner was read out.
The Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) went to long-established artist Wendy Houstoun for “Pact with Pointlessness”. Xander Parish, a dancer from Hull who left The Royal Ballet in 2010 to move to St Petersburg, won Outstanding Male Performance (Classical) for Apollo for Mariinsky Ballet.
Finally, the Dance UK Industry Award went to a politician. Cue gasps! The winner was Frank Duran, MP Aberdeen North. Duran was co-founder of the All Party Parliamentary Dance Group at Westminster, established following the publication of a report into dance by the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee. The Group champions dance as an art form, and lobbies and engages with government and ministers. Duran has done much to promote the benefits of dance in schools, and its health benefits, as well as dance on stage.
The full list of winners:
Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer
Jonathan Goddard (Mark Bruce Company, New Movement Collective & Headspacedance)
Grishko Award for Best Female Dancer
Natalia Osipova (The Royal Ballet)
Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company
English National Ballet
Best Independent Company
Mark Bruce Company
Best Classical Choreography
Christopher Wheeldon (“The Winter’s Tale” for The Royal Ballet)
Best Modern Choreography
Akram Khan (“Dust” for English National Ballet)
Emerging Artist Award
Francesca Hayward (dancer – The Royal Ballet)
Outstanding Female Performance (Classical)
Natalia Osipova (in The title role as “Giselle” for The Royal Ballet)
Outstanding Male Performance (Classical)
Xander Parish (in the title role as “Apollo” for Mariinsky Ballet)
Outstanding Female Performance (Modern)
Wendy Houstoun (in “Pact With Pointlessness”)
Outstanding Male Performance (Modern)
Jonathan Goddard (in the title role as “Dracula” for Mark Bruce Company)
The Dance UK Industry Award
Frank Doran MP
De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement