On Wednesday 20 June 2018 Matthew Bourne received an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from the highly-esteemed University of Oxford.
For Matthew's contribution to the creative arts he was awarded this recognition alongside renowned filmmaker Martin Scorsese.
Professor Roger Goodman, Chair of the Committee on Honorary Degrees, said: “Every year, the University awards honorary degrees to people who have made outstanding contributions in their chosen fields. This year’s nominees are all being recognised for a distinguished body of work and cover a fascinating range of areas of achievement.”
Matthew also holds Honorary Doctorates (Arts) from Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Roehampton University, Kingston University, Plymouth University, De Montfort University and the Open University.
The following was read out prior to receiving his degree:
I confess myself almost defeated; I fear no orator will ever do justice to the beauty of the wordless representation that is dance, the art that a French poet said 'can reveal everything mysterious that is hidden in music'. Who is able to conjure such things but the choreographer? Here next in our honoured line is one such magus, once himself a dancer, who has inspired and led troupes of his own; one whose language of gesture is made to seem the most natural human expression. In all he does, he strives at once to create something original but also to honour that old from which the new arises. Here is a magician who gives changed life not only to Oliver, Eliza and Mary but event to swans, and whose Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella command wholly new attention, enjoining us to revisit what we felt we knew as children. There are other metamorphoses too, for under his inventive direction Bournonville's La Sylphide becomes Bourne's Highland Fling, and he has in his refashioned Red Shoes given us a story of ballet itself, re-read from one era of austerity to another in our recent history. It may be true that 'none is born a master', but already as a boy our honorand showed the signs of a theatrical sorcerer, apprentice to his own talent, his own company 'Adventures in Motion Pictures' being soon reborn in 'New Adventures. And now the master multiplies himself, for he is to be constantly 'Re-Bourne' in the charitable wing of that company, which ensures a future for countless new dancers and choreographers to come, who will dance to the music of our time and theirs.
I present a peerless artist and nurturer of theatre and gesture, a Knight, if not yet Lord, of the Dance, Matthew Christopher Bourne, to be admitted to the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.