UK Dance Influencers

Who’s making a difference in dance?

I know the dance industry influencers have been around for centuries but it is today’s market that I’m interested in. Who’s making waves? Who has influence? Who is changing the future for our dancers of tomorrow?

Before introducing you to our UK choreographers I want to share this video which I feel we all should reflect our thoughts on how our online presence engages our audience.

OK now let me start by introducing you to some of our most influential and successful choreographers.

Akram Khan MBE

In just over eighteen years, Akram Khan Company has established itself as one of the foremost innovative dance companies in the world.

Embracing an artistic vision that both respects and challenges Indian kathak form and contemporary dance, Akram Khan has created a substantial body of critically acclaimed work that ranges from classical and modern solos to artist-to-artist collaborations and company productions.

The Company has a major international presence and enjoys busy tours that reach out to many cultures and peoples across the globe.

In July 1999 in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, an animated and curiosity-filled conversation took place between the young gifted dancer/choreographer Akram Khan and an ambitious former dancer and just recently graduated arts manager Farooq Chaudhry. That conversation laid the foundation stone for a dynamic collaboration, culminating in the creation of Akram Khan Company one year later.

Inspired by Akram Khan’s early training in the Indian classical dance form Kathak, and the hybrid language that organically emerged when Akram’s kathak training encountered contemporary dance in his teens, a vision began to form, fuelled by a desire to learn and create through collaboration with the very best people across all the disciplines in the arts.

The rules were simple: take risks, think big and daring, explore the unfamiliar, avoid compromise and tell stories through dance that are compelling and relevant, with artistic integrity.

Akram Khan Company produces thoughtful, provocative and ambitious dance productions for the international stage.

Akram Khan takes human themes and works with others to take them to new and unexpected places – embracing and collaborating with other cultures and disciplines.

The dance language in each production is rooted in Akram Khan’s classical Kathak and modern dance training and his fascination with storytelling. The work continually evolves to communicate ideas that are intelligent, courageous and new, bringing with it international acclaim and recognition as well as artistic and commercial success.


2018: Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Production in Dance Division, Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts, Luminato (Until the Lions) 2018: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2017, Best Classical Choreography for English National Ballet’s Giselle (Akram Khan) 2017: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2016, Outstanding Female Performance (modern) for Until the Lions (Ching-Ying Chien) 2017: Eastern Eye Arts, Culture & Theatre Awards 2017 for Outstanding Achievement in Dance and Choreography (Akram Khan) 2016: Production of the Year by German magazine tanz (Until the Lions) 2016: Get Creative Family Arts Festival award for Best Event (Chotto Desh) 2015: Honorary Doctorate of Music, University of London (Akram Khan) 2015: Fred and Adele Astaire Award for Best choreographer in a feature film for Desert Dancer (Akram Khan) 2015: 15th Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2014 for Best Modern Choreography (Dust, as part of Lest We Forget) 2014: Bessie Award for Outstanding Production, New York (DESH) 2014: The Herald Archangel Award, Edinburgh International Festival (Akram Khan) 2013: Knight of Illumination Award, Best Lighting Design in Dance for iTMOi(Fabiana Piccioli) 2013: 13th Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2012, Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer (Akram Khan) 2012: Olivier Awards 2012 for Best New Dance Production (DESH) 2012: 12th Critics’ Circle National Dance Award 2011 for Best Modern Choreography (Vertical Road) 2011: Distinguished Artist Award, International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), New York (Akram Khan) 2011: South Bank Sky Arts Award in Dance, UK (Gnosis) 2010: Danza & Danza Award for Best Performance in 2010, Bolzano, Italy (Vertical Road) 2010: The Age Critics Award for Best New Work, Melbourne Arts Festival (Vertical Road) 2010: Honorary Fellowship from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in recognition of outstanding efforts and unique contributions to the arts (Akram Khan) 2010: Honorary Doctorate of Letters, Roehampton University (Akram Khan) 2007: Helpmann Award for Best Choreography, Sydney Arts Festival (zero degrees) 2007: Helpmann Award for Best Male Dancer, Sydney Arts Festival (zero degrees) 2007: Excellence in International Dance Award by International Theatre Institute (Akram Khan) 2005: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Male or Female Artist (modern) (Akram Khan) 2005: South Bank Show Award (ma) 2005: MBE for services to dance (Akram Khan) 2004: Honorary Doctorate of Arts for his contribution to the UK arts community, De Montfort University (Akram Khan) 2004: The International Movimetos Tanzpreis for Most Promising Newcomer in Dance (Akram Khan) 2002: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Modern Choreography (Kaash) 2000: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Outstanding Newcomer to Dance (Rush) 2000: Time Out Live Award for Outstanding Newcomer to Dance (Akram Khan in Rush) 2000: Jerwood Foundation Choreography Award (Loose in Flight)


2017: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards 2016, Outstanding Male Performance (Modern) (Akram Khan), Outstanding Female Performance (modern) (Joy Alpuerto Ritter), and Best Modern Choreography for Until the Lions 2014: South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2014 Dance Category (iTMOi) 2013: The Glory of India Award – Bharat Gaurav Award 2012: Evening Standard Theatre Award (for the London Olympics Opening Ceremony) 2012: British Inspiration Awards Arts Category (Akram Khan) 2012: South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2012 Dance Category (DESH) 2012: London Dance Award 2012 (Akram Khan) 2011: Les Globes de Cristal Art et Culture Awards: “Opera or Dance Performance” (In-I) 2010: 11th Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for Outstanding Female Performance (Modern) – dancers Eulalia Ayguade Farro (Vertical Road, bahok) & Yoshie Sunahata (Gnosis) 2010: Olivier Award for Outstanding Contribution to Dance – Yoshie Sunahata (Gnosis) 2010: Manchester Evening News Theatre Dance Award (bahok) 2006: Time Out Award (zero degrees) 2006: Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production (zero degrees) 2005: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Company Prize for Best Choreography (Modern) (zero degrees) 2005: The Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Company Prize for Outstanding Repertoire (Modern) (Akram Khan Company) 2002: Best Dance Show by French Magazine Le Inrockuptibles (Kaash) 2002: Nijinsky Award for Best New Comer, Monaco Danses Forum (Akram Khan) 2001: South Bank Show Award (Rush)

Akram’s associateships 2015: Associate artist, Curve Leicester 2011: Associate artist, Sadler’s Wells Theatre and MC2: Grenoble in a special international agreement 2005: Associate artist, Sadler’s Wells Theatre 2003: Associate artist, Royal Festival Hall (the first time a non-musician has been afforded this status) 2001: Choreographer in Residence, Royal Festival Hall

Lloyd Newson OBE

I am honoured to experienced Lloyd Newson's DV8 workshops first hand when I skipped college to attend his workshop a the Everyman in Liverpool. A definite advantage for me and worth my punishment.

Lloyd Newson has led DV8 Physical Theatre since its inception in 1986. His work has had a dynamic impact on contemporary dance and theatre. His stage and film work with DV8 has consistently received major awards, most recently the prestigious Helpmann Award for Can We Talk About This?.

Born in Australia, Newson studied psychology and social work at Melbourne University. During that time he became interested in dance, a fascination that led to a full scholarship at London Contemporary Dance School. Before forming his own company, DV8 Physical Theatre in 1986. DV8 Physical Theatre was formed as a response to Newson's increasing frustration with the superficiality of contemporary dance. DV8's work is characterised by the desire to communicate ideas and feelings clearly and unpretentiously, with a focus on socio-political issues. Lloyd danced and/or choreographed with many companies including Modern Dance Ensemble, Impulse Dance Theatre/New Zealand Ballet Company, One Extra Dance Theatre and Extemporary Dance Theatre. Straddling dance, text, theatre and film, Newson’s work refuses to be defined. Since 2007 he has specifically focused his attention on investigating the relationship between verbatim text and movement.

Newson’s work, be it for stage or film, has won more than 55 National and International awards. He has choreographed and directed DV8's work since its inception, with the exception of My Sex; Our Dance (1986) which was co-created with performer Nigel Charnock.

Between 1986-1992 Newson frequently collaborated with performers Michelle Richecoeur, Nigel Charnock and Wendy Houstoun. Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men premiered in 1988, and was the first of Newson's work to be adapted for film (1990). Further film translations of stage shows include Strange Fish (1992), Enter Achilles (1995), and The Cost of Living (2004). Living Costs (2003) was the company's first site specific performance, in collaboration with Tate Modern, and featured elements from the stage production The Cost of Living.

In 2004 Newson conceived and directed the film version of this work which was set on location in Cromer, an English seaside town.Since 2007, Newson's work has combined his individual style of movement with verbatim text. These verbatim-dance works deal with contemporary issues: religious tolerance and intolerance towards sexuality in To Be Straight With You (2007–09), censorship and freedom of speech in Can we Talk About This? (2011–12) and a man’s attempt to escape his criminal background and redeem his life in JOHN (2014–15).

He has been cited by the Critics Circle as being one of the hundred most influential artists working in Britain during the last hundred years. In 2013 Newson was awarded an OBE from Her Majesty the Queen for services to contemporary dance. His work has had a dynamic impact on contemporary dance and theatre.

In January 2016, Newson announced he was taking time out from the company to reflect and think about the future.

This is one of my favourite clips that I had as a monthly inspiration video in May, definitely deserves another view. Love the flow of movement, strong character and playful interpretation. Enjoy x


  • Lloyd Newson received the Honorary Award from Choreoscope, The International Dance Film Festival of Barcelona, for his pioneering work in dance films

  • Lloyd Newson was awarded an OBE for services to contemporary dance.

  • Lloyd Newson was named by the UK Critics' Circle as one of the 100 most influential people in the arts over the last 100 years.

  • Helpmann Award 'Best Ballet or Dance Work', Australia

  • Audience Award/Pro Faito Award, Faito DOC Film Festival, Italy

  • Production of the Year (Tanz), Germany

  • Argus Angel Award, Brighton

  • Grand Prix RTBF-EOP!, Namur, Belgium

  • Lloyd Newson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters (DLitt) from Roehampton University

  • Grand Prix de Danse, Paris

  • Special Merit Award, Documentary and Disability Festival, Athens

  • Laurence Olivier Awards Nomination, Best New Dance Production, London

  • Special Mention, Look and Roll Festival, Basel

  • Prize for the section ‘All About Dance’, Milano Doc Festival

  • Choreography Media Honors Award, Dance Camera West 2007, Los Angeles

  • Best of Festival Award, Picture This International Disability Festival 2006, Calgary

  • Prix Italia (Performing Arts) Winner 2005

  • Jury's Special Prize, Belgrade International Festival (BITEF)

  • Audience Award, Belgrade International Festival (BITEF)

  • Jury Prize, Dance On Camera Festival 2005, New York

  • Rose d’Or, Switzerland (Arts and Specials category) Best Camera Re-Work award, IMZ Dance Screen 2005, Brighton

  • Audience Award, Cinedans 2005, Amsterdam

  • Outstanding Achievement in Dance, Time Out Live Awards 2005

  • Sette Jury Prize, International Festival of Films on Art 2005, Montreal, Canada

  • Audience Choice Award, Mostra de Filmes Dançando para Câmera 2005, Brazil

  • Best of Video Dance audience award, VideoDance2004, Athens

  • The Paula Citron Award for Choreography for the Camera and the NOW Audience Choice Award, Moving Pictures Festival 2004, Toronto

  • Nominated for the Nijinsky Award 2004 for best choreographic production

  • Designer of the Year award, Time Out Live Arts Award for Bob Bailey in collaboration with the company

  • The Jury Prize, the Montreal Festival for Films on Art

  • International Emmy for Performing Arts

  • Golden Spire Award, San Francisco International Film Festival

  • Prix du Ministre- President du gouvernment de la Region Bruxelles–Capitale Charles Pique, First Screening Stage Arts Festival, Brussels

  • Prix Italia (Special Prize, Television Music and Arts)

  • Best stage performance reworked for camera, IMZ Dance Screen

  • 6th Golden Antenna Television Festival (Special prize for Category "E" sketches and other entertainment programmes)

  • Prix Italia (Special Prize, Music and Arts)

  • Festival International Danse Visions for best choreography

  • IMZ Dance Screen (best camera rework)

  • Grand Prix International Video-Danse/Pierre Cardin Award

  • TZ Rose, Germany

  • London Dance & Performance Award

  • Prudential Award to Lloyd Newson to commission new work

  • SADAC Award, France

  • Festival International du Film sur l'Art

  • Prudential Award for Dance

  • London Dance and Performance Award

  • Golden Pegasus Award, Melbourne International Festival

  • Digital Dance Premier Award, contributed by Val Bourne

  • IMZ Dance Screen

  • Video Danse Competition

  • Evening Standard Ballet Award

  • Time Out Dance Award

  • London Dance and Performance Award for Choreography

  • Digital Dance Production Award

  • Manchester Evening News Theatre Award for Dance

  • Digital Dance Production Award

Sir Matthew Bourne OBE

Sir Matthew Bourne is widely hailed as the UK’s most popular and successful choreographer and director. For 30 years he has been creating and directing dance for musicals, opera, theatre, film as well as his own highly successful, award-winning companies. Matthew is the creator of the world’s longest running ballet production, and has been recognised by numerous international awards. He was knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2016 for services to dance, and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award – one of the most coveted honours in the world of dance – in recognition of his outstanding services to the art of ballet.

Matthew started his dance training at the comparatively late age of 22. He studied Dance Theatre and Choreography at The Laban Centre (now Trinity Laban) graduating in 1985 and spending a further year with the college’s performance company Transitions. Matthew danced professionally for 14 years creating many roles in his own work. As Artistic Director of his first company, Adventures in Motion Pictures from 1987 until 2002 Matthew created many award-winning works for the Company including Spitfire (1988), The Infernal Galop (1989), Town and Country (1991), Deadly Serious (1992), Nutcracker! (1992), Highland Fling (1994), Swan Lake(1995), Cinderella (1997) and The Car Man (2000).

The most iconic productions have been revived for New Adventures, which was launched by Matthew and his Co-Director Robert Noble in 2002. Ground-breaking new productions were added to the repertoire including Play Without Words (2002 – a co-production with the National Theatre), Edward Scissorhands (2005), Dorian Gray (2008), Lord Of The Flies (2011 – Director Only), Early Adventures (2012 – a compilation of his early work), Sleeping Beauty (2012) and The Red Shoes (2016).

New Adventures is now the most successful and busiest dance company in the UK and a major exporter of British dance across the world.

Matthew’s choreography for classic musicals includes Cameron Mackintosh’s productions of Oliver! (1994 and 2009 Olivier nomination), My Fair Lady (2002 - Olivier Award), and the National Theatre’s revival of South Pacific (2002). In 2004 Matthew co-directed with Richard Eyre and choreographed with Stephen Mear the hit West End musical Mary Poppins for which he won an Olivier Award for Best Theatre Choreographer, and two Tony nominations when it opened on Broadway. Mary Poppins has recently returned and is currently touring throughout the UK.

His film work includes television productions of his stage work including Matthew Bourne’s Christmas (Channel 4, 2012), Swan Lake (1996 Emmy nomination and 2011 in 3D), The Car Man (2001 and 2015), Nutcracker! (2003) and Sleeping Beauty broadcast by the BBC for Christmas 2013 prior to worldwide cinema screenings.

Original work includes the John Betjeman inspired Late Flowering Lust (1993) with Sir Nigel Hawthorne.

Matthew was the subject of a South Bank Show in 1997, a BBC Imagine documentary in 2012 and a Channel 4 documentary, Bourne to Dance, which was broadcast on Christmas Day 2001. His production of Swan Lake features in Stephen Daldry’s hit film Billy Elliot.

In 2015 his revival of The Car Man was broadcast on Sky TV, and screened in cinemas worldwide throughout 2016. Matthew Bourne's Cinderella was recorded December 2017 and broadcast on the BBC on Boxing Day, with cinema screenings worldwide throughout 2018.

Other theatre and dance work includes As You Like It (RSC/John Caird), Children of Eden (West End/John Caird), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Aix en Provence/Robert Carsen), The Tempest (NYT), Show Boat(Malmo Stadsteater, Sweden), Peer Gynt (Barbican/Yukio Ninagawa), Watch With Mother (NYDC), Boutiqueand The Infernal Galop (Images of Dance and The Sarasota Ballet), Watch Your Step (Irving Berlin Gala), French and Saunders Live in 2000 (UK tour), Dearest Love (Ballet Boyz), and Highland Fling (Scottish Ballet).

In 1999 Faber and Faber published Matthew Bourne and his Adventures in Motion Pictures, edited by theatre and dance writer, Alastair Macaulay, and a new edition was published in recognition of Bourne’s 25th Anniversary Celebrations in 2012.

In addition to being a prolific choreographer, Matthew supports the wider dance industry and its future. He is proud to be an Associate Artist and Resident Company at Sadler’s Wells where New Adventures have played record-breaking Christmas seasons since 2002. Since 2008 the company has also delivered projects and workshops for people of all ages and abilities to thousands worldwide, every year, as part of the company's ambitions to develop and nurture: audiences, artists and the next generation.

In 1997 Matthew was made an Honorary Fellow of his former college, The Laban Centre, becoming a Companion of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in 2012. He has six Honorary Doctorates from The Open University, and the De Montfort, Plymouth, Kingston and Roehampton Universities, as well as the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. In June 2018 Matthew received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from University of Oxford. He is also a Companion of Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts and a proud patron of many organisations, including The Arts Educational School, Laine Theatre Arts, CREATE and Shoreditch Youth Dance.

In 2014 Matthew Bourne was awarded the prestigious De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement at the National Dance Awards and later that year saw the opening of the Matthew Bourne Theatre, named in his honour, at his old school in East London, Sir George Monoux College.

In 2015 he became the first dance figure to be given The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre presented by the UK Theatre Awards.

He was knighted in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2016 for services to dance, and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Award in recognition of his outstanding services to the art of ballet, which is one of the most coveted honours in the world of dance.

In 2016, New Adventures presented the World Premiere of Matthew Bourne’s latest work, The Red Shoes, based on the classic Powell & Pressburger film with music by Bernard Herrmann. The Red Shoes has since been performed to sell out audiences across the UK and won two Olivier Awards in 2017 for Best Entertainment and Matthew Bourne for Best Theatre Choreographer.

Bourne was presented with the inaugural Trailblazer in Dance and Theatre Award from The International Institute of Dance and Theatre in 2017, and the Critics’ Circle Award for Outstanding Services to the Arts.


Associate Artist - Sadler's Wells Theatre

Associate Artist - Center Theatre Group

Ambassador - Theatres Trust

Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters - University of Oxford 2018

Choreography Award - for The Red Shoes - Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards 2017

Best Modern Choreography Nomination for The Red Shoes – National Dance Awards 2017 Best Theatre Choreographer for The Red Shoes – Olivier Awards April 2017

Best Entertainment for The Red Shoes – Olivier Awards April 2017

Trailblazer in Dance and Theatre Award from the International Institute of Dance and Theatre - March 2017

Critics' Circle Distinguished Service to Art Award- December 2016

The Gene Kelly Legacy Award from Dizzy Feet Foundation - September 2016

Honorary Doctorate (Arts) - Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 2016

Queen Elizabeth II Coronation (QEII) Award in Recognition of Outstanding Services to the Art of Ballet – June 2016

Knighthood for Services to Dance - New Years Honours 2016

The UK Theatre Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre - 2015

Primio Ravenna Festival 2015 - Ravenna Festival Highest Honour - Previous recipients include Rostropovich, Ennio Morricone, Riccardo Muti and Pierre Boulez

The Sir George Monoux Founders Award 2014 - Presented at the Dedication ceremony of the Matthew Bourne Theatre at Monoux College, Walthamstow, London

Dance Film Association "Dance in Focus" Award 2013 - Given for "Persistance of Vision, Drive and Artistry"

De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement - National Dance Awards 2013

LIPA Companion 2012 - (Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts) Presented by Sir Paul Mccartney

Companion - Trinity Laban conservatoire of Music and Dance 2011

Honorary Doctorate (Arts) - Roehampton University 2011

Honorary Doctorate (Arts) - Kingston University 2011

Honorary Doctorate (Arts) - Plymouth University 2010

The British Inspiration Award 2010 - Winner in 'Arts' category

Theatre Managers Special Award (TMA) for Individual Achievement 2007 for Services to Dance Touring and Audience Development

Honorary Doctorate (Arts) - De Montfort University 2007

Honorary Doctorate (Arts) - Open University 2000

Best Theatre Choreographer for Play Without Words – Olivier Awards 2003

Hamburg Shakespeare Prize for the Arts 2003 - Only the second recipient from the dance world in over 50 Years, the other being legendary ballerina, Dame Margot Fonteyn

Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Services to Dance 2001

Astaire Award 1999 - Special Award for Direction, Choreography and Concept of Swan Lake

Tony Awards for Choreographer and Director for Swan Lake 1999

Honorary Fellow - The Laban Centre 1997

South Bank Show Award 1996

Time out Special Award 1996

Oliver! Nominated for Best Choreography – Olivier Awards 2010

My Fair Lady Winner Best Theatre Choreographer – Olivier Awards 2002

Mary Poppins Winner Best Theatre Choreographer – Olivier Awards Nominated Best Director (with Richard Eyre) – Olivier Awards

Nominated Outstanding Choreography – Tony Awards

Winner Best Director and Best Choreography - Green Room Awards, Melbourne

Winner Best Director and Best Choreography – Helpmann Awards, Sydney

Richard Alston CBE

Artistic Director of The Place, is internationally recognised as one of the most inspiring and influential choreographers in dance.

Perhaps more than any other choreographer, Richard is known for his instinctive musicality. Alston is renowned for having a very close relationship with his music, taking inspiration for his work directly from the music he uses, to use the music as a point of departure for the choreography. (He recently said that to unwind, as well as reading or watching films, he listens to music he knows he does not want to make dance to).

Some recent examples are:

  • Buzzing Round the Hunisuccle, to Jo Kondo's Isthmus, Hunisuccle and An Elder's Hocket

  • A Ceremony of Carols, set to Benjamin Britten's masterpiece for boys' voices and harp

  • Unfinished Business which is danced to the beautiful, lucid and flowing music of Mozart's unfinished piano sonata, Opus K533. To the sonata's two movements, Alston has added an arrangement of Mozart's brilliant Gigue in D by the Italian virtuoso Federico Busoni, creating a third movement and bringing things to a rousing close.

Born in Sussex in 1948, Richard was educated at Eton where he discovered his passion for music in the school gramophone library, listening to Bach and Billie Holliday, or blasting Wagner’s Ring at the cows grazing outside. He then studied fine art and theatre design at Croydon College of Art in 1965, before becoming one of the very first students at the newly established London Contemporary Dance School in 1968. It was at this point that he started to choreograph, as he studied under the groundbreaking teaching of Robert Cohan and the leadership of Robin Howard, who first brought contemporary dance to the UK from America in the late 1950s.

He went on to choreograph for The Place's resident company London Contemporary Dance Theatre before forming the UK’s first independent dance company, Strider, in 1972. In 1975 he left for New York to study at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio and on his return two years later he worked throughout the UK and Europe as an independent choreographer and teacher. Ironically, working with Cunningham – known as the man who completely divorced dance from music – brought Richard back to his musical instincts.

Returning from New York he made a solo about what he’d missed from England while he’d been away – he illustrated his solo with slides of Hawksmoor churches, and set them to Purcell’s harpsichord music.

“I think that’s the first time I really dealt with music. I had very specific ideas about how music and dance should co-operate. I don’t like the ‘bathroom effect’ – when you put on music that makes you feel huge – it’s great in the shower but I don’t want it in the theatre. I want the thing you see to be what uplifts you.” Richard Alston


n 1980 he was appointed Resident Choreographer with Ballet Rambert, becoming the company's Artistic Director from 1986 - 1992. During his time there he created twenty-five works for Rambert besides being commissioned to create works for the Royal Danish Ballet (1982) and the Royal Ballet (1983); he also made Soda Lake (1981) and Dutiful Ducks (1982), two solo works for Michael Clark. He returned to Rambert in 2001, creating Unrest to help celebrate Rambert's 75th anniversary.

In 1992 Richard was invited to create a full evening of his own work for the Ballet Atlantique based in La Rochelle, France. He made another full evening for London Contemporary Dance Theatre at the 1994 Aldeburgh Festival and it was therefore a logical step to go on to form his own company, which he did when he took up the post of Artistic Director of The Place. Richard Alston Dance Company was launched at The Place in November 1994.

Richard was made an honorary Doctor of Philosophy (in Dance) at Surrey University in 1992 and in 2003 received an honorary MA from University College Chichester. In 1995 he was named Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in recognition of his work in France. In January 2001 he was awarded the CBE in the New Year Honours list.

Richard Alston Dance Company has an education programme, Essential Alston, which runs dance workshops in secondary schools throughout the UK teaching sections of Alston repertoire along with creative work to GCSE and A level Dance students.

Richard has created recent commissions for The Barbican, Ballet Theatre Munich and Ballet Black and Richard Alston Dance Company is firmly established as one of the most popular and celebrated in the UK, touring the country annually as well as making frequent visits to the USA, including a New York debut to great acclaim at the Joyce Theater in the spring of 2004.

In 2008, to mark Richard’s 60th birthday and 40 years of choreography, he was commissioned by Dance Umbrella and Sadler’s Wells to create a special programme that was performed at the Wells. In 2009, he choreographed a critically acclaimed Carmen for Scottish Ballet and was appointed Chair of Youth Dance England. 2010 began with a four week tour of the USA, including RADC's third sell-out season at the Joyce Theater. The company featured in the 2011 Fall for Dance programme at New York's City Center, and return again in September 2013.

In 2011, Alston made A Rugged Flourish for New York Theater Ballet's season Signatures 11: A Celebration of Legends & Visionaries, he has since returned to remount Light Flooding Into Darkened Rooms which premiered in New York in February 2013. In 2012 Richard was presented with the Award for Excellence in International Dance by the International Theatre Institute - British Centre.

In 2012, Richard created Even Song for the Holland Dance Festival, and All Alight for Phoenix Dance Theatre was premiered in February 2013 and has toured throughout the UK.

"Alston is one of the few real dance makers in the world and he can show us how, when real dance comes along, it changes everything" The Dancing Times


He was made an Honorary Doctor of the Arts by the University of Kent (2015),

an Honorary Doctor of the Arts by Kingston University (2016)

and an Honorary Fellow of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance (2017).

Alston was made Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in France (1995)

and received the CBE in the New Year Honours list (2001).

Alston received the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement from the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards (2008).

He was presented with the Award for Excellence in International Dance by the International Theatre Institute (2012).

Alston was Chair of Youth Dance England, a position he held from 2009 until March 2016 when he became U.Dance Champion.

He is a Trustee of the Dance Professionals Fund.

Siobhan Davies CBE

Founded in 1988 by pioneering choreographer Siobhan Davies, Siobhan Davies Dance is an artist-led organisation that advances the art forms of dance and choreography. We connect artists and audiences through investigative, collaborative and interdisciplinary artistic activities at our studios and beyond.

The RIBA award-winning Siobhan Davies Studios opened in 2006 establishing a permanent base for the organisation to create new work and support independent artists. The Studios are a vibrant arts space in central London which hosts a programme of exhibitions, performances, participation projects and new commissions from leading contemporary artists.

Siobhan Davies CBE (born 18 September 1950 in London, and often known as Sue Davies) was a dancer with the London Contemporary Dance Theatre during the 1970s, and became one of its leading choreographers creating work such as Sphinx (1977).

Originally trained in art, Davies was one of the first year's intake of full-time students at the London School of Contemporary Dance. Her works White Man Sleeps and Wyoming have been included on the dance GCEA-Level syllabus. Her work Bird Song is being used in GCSE Dance syllabus as Set Work (2008–2010). She is among the top contemporary choreographers in the UK.

In 1982, she joined forces with Richard Alston and Ian Spink to create Second Stride, which has been lauded as one of the most influential dance companies of the 1980s as well as the first contemporary dance company to tour the United States. From 1988-92 she was the associate choreographer of Rambert Dance Company.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy my other blogs. Check them out.

Remember to subscribe to Dance Inspire Podcast as this is a bi-monthly broadcast that inspire and motivate you to create work in dance!

Bye for now...

Gillian Beattie Xx

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