Matthew Bourne Wins the De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement at the NDA's

17 January 2014

“He is a choreographer, a director, a story-teller, a magician, and like his early inspiration, Fred Astaire, he is the consummate entertainer” 

The National Dance Awards 2014, decided by the 60 members of the Dance Section of the Critics’ Circle, were announced at a lunchtime reception at The Place yesterday – hosted by Chair Graham Watts and former NDA winner, Tommy Franzèn, and Bennet Gartside of the Royal Ballet. To be eligible, performances had to be given in the UK between 1st September 2012 and 31st August 2013. More than 200 nominations of companies, choreographers and performers were received from the dance critics, with 40 short-listed for the awards.

Matthew Bourne received the De Valois Award for his life time achievement in dance. Having just ended a 25th anniversary year with another sell out winter season of Swan Lake at Sadler’s Wells and a hugely successful tour of the US with Sleeping Beauty, he could well qualify for another one. Announcing the award, Graham Watts said: “He is a choreographer, a director, a story-teller, a magician, and like his early inspiration, Fred Astaire, he is the consummate entertainer” and described his unique way of “turning ballet upside down and giving it a whirl.” A delighted Bourne thanked his “New Adventures family” – in particular Etta Murfitt, Scott Ambler, Lez Brotherston and Robert Noble – and also their audiences:“We wouldn’t be here today without them. Their love and support has kept me going.”

Matthew is one of an elite few in the dance world to have won the Critic's Circle's most prestigious award, including Sir Anthony Dowell, Dame Monica Mason, Christopher Bruce and Robert Cohan CBE. 

Although New Adventures did not take home any other trophies on the day, we are immensely proud of our nominee's Christopher Marney and Hannah Vassallo and celebrate their incredible achievement.

The full citation written by Graham Watts....

Don’t worry, the announcement behind me is not a mistake because, this year, unusually we are making two awards.

The second De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement is perhaps a significant indicator of the richness of the British dance scene just because it is very hard to believe that it hasn’t already been given to this particular person.

He was a comparatively late arrival into dance.

His passion in younger life was musical theatre and he started formal dance training at an age when most dance students have already graduated but quickly made up time by plunging straight into the task of making work.

He recently celebrated 25 years being in charge of a company that has been an extraordinary ADVENTURE.

And in celebrating this silver jubilee of dance creation we were able to enjoy again some of the works that he made back at the beginning, in the late 1980s.

Even back then, he had the audacious inventiveness and wit to turn ballet on its head and give it a whirl.

He is – after all – the man who turned the Pas de Quatre, Perrot’s love letter to four great Romantic ballerinas, into a 1950s-style underwear advertisement for four narcissistic guys.

There has been an unending torrent of brilliance over this past quarter century, developing an inimitable style through radical reimaginings of romantic and classical ballets – from the Highland Fling of La Sylphide and The Nutcracker through the iconic success of his wonderful interpretation of Swan Lake and more recently onto Sleeping Beauty.

…not to mention tackling other great stories for the first time in dance – such as Edward Scissorhands and Dorian Gray - and placing them in the same unique mould.

Ably assisted by a regular team of collaborators, not least in the ever-distinctive designs of Lez Brotherston, he has kept audiences all over the world consistently entertained with work that is rich in imagery and spectacle and in which there is never, ever a dull moment.

He is a choreographer, a director, a story-teller, a magician, and like his early inspiration, Fred Astaire, he is the consummate entertainer.

We love him.

He is, of course…

Matthew Bourne

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