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  2004 Critics' Circle National
Dance Awards winners

London, Thursday 20 January, 2005

The winners of the 2004 Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards were announced today at a special ceremony at the Royal Opera House attended by the Rt. Hon Estelle Morris MP, Minister for the Arts. Sir Peter Wright, Director Laureate of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Royal Ballet Principals Leanne Benjamin and Jonathan Cope, choreographers Christopher Wheeldon, Javier de Frutos and Matthew Bourne, the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, Rambert Dance Company and The Royal Ballet headed the list (for full details, see below).

Included amongst the Awards for the first time was the new Working Title Billy Elliot Prize, presented by award-winning film director Stephen Daldry to 13 year old Taylor Davies from Swansea. The Sunday Express National Dance Award for Children was won by 9 year old Abbie Hastings from Birmingham.

It was also announced that Dame Beryl Grey DBE, who herself won a special National Dance Award for Services to Dance in 2002, has agreed to become Patron of the Awards in succession to Dame Alicia Markova, who died last December (for biographical details of Dame Beryl, see below).

Well-known television broadcaster and journalist Angela Rippon compered the ceremony in which some 39 nominees – chosen by dance critics to reflect their choice of dancers and classical ballet and modern dance companies who have made an outstanding contribution to the profession over the past twelve months - competed for the 17 awards.

Guests arriving for the lunch-time reception and ceremony in the Vilar Floral Hall at the Royal Opera House were entertained by the dancers of Adzido Dance Company and 50 students from the Royal Academy of Dance, Rambert School, Royal Ballet Lower School, (White Lodge), Central School of Ballet, Arts Educational School, Tring Park and Elmhurst School for Dance.

Others present at the reception and ceremony included Lady Sarah Chatto, vice-president of The Royal Ballet, prima ballerina Dame Beryl Grey, Lady (Deborah) MacMillan, who designed the artwork for the Awards when first established five years ago, Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, chairman of the Royal Opera House, Tom Merrifield, who this year has created a statuette to be donated annually to the winner of the De Valois Award in addition to the National Dance Award, and ex-Royal Ballet dancers TV star Jeremy Sheffield and well-known dancer and performer Wayne Sleep.

The UK's dance community included John Ashford, Mark Baldwin, David Bintley, Darshan Singh Bhuller, Alina Cojucaro, Thomas Edur, Johan Kobborg, Russell Maliphant, Monica Mason, Irek Mukhamedov, David Nixon, Agnes Oaks,Ashley Page and Madam Zhao Rhueng, as well as many dancers and other representatives from companies across the UK - including Akram Khan Dance Company, George Piper Dances, Independent Ballet Wales, Northern Ballet Theatre, Phoenix Dance Theatre, the Royal Ballet and Scottish Ballet - and from the Bolshoi Ballet, Merce Cunningham Dance Company and the National Ballet of China.

The winners of the 2004 Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards are:

De Valois Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance
Sir Peter Wright, Director Laureate of Birmingham Royal Ballet

Best Male Dancer
Jonathan Cope, for performances as a Principal of The Royal Ballet

Richard Sherrington Award for Best Female Dancer
Leanne Benjamin, for performances as a Principal of The Royal Ballet

Working Title Billy Elliot Prize
Taylor Davies

Sunday Express National Dance Award for Children
Abbie Hastings

Audience Award, supported by and Dance UK
Northern Ballet Theatre

Dance UK Industry Award
Dick Matchett

Best Choreography (Classical)
Christopher Wheeldon, for Rush for San Francisco Ballet

Best Choreography (Modern)
Javier de Frutos, for Elsa Canasta commissioned by Rambert Dance Company and Milagros commissioned by Royal New Zealand Ballet

Best Choreography (Musical Theatre)
Matthew Bourne and the Company, for Play Without Words at the Royal National Theatre

Outstanding Female Artist (Modern)
Amy Hollingsworth, for performances with Rambert Dance Company

Outstanding Male Artist (Modern)
Paul Liburd, for performances with Rambert Dance Company

Outstanding Female Artist (Classical)
Lauren Cuthbertson, for performances as a Soloist with The Royal Ballet

Outstanding Male Artist (Classical)
Thiago Soares, for performances as a First Soloist with The Royal Ballet

Company Prize for Outstanding Repertoire (Classical)
The Royal Ballet

Company Prize for Outstanding Repertoire (Modern)
Rambert Dance Company

Best Foreign Dance Company
Merce Cunningham Dance Company, for performances at the Barbican

More details about the Awards, including a full list of the 2004 nominations and past winners, can be found on the National Dance Awards website:

For further information, contact:

Christopher Nourse
National Dance Awards
020 7589 7372


Note to editors

Dame Beryl Grey – Patron of the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards

Few dance artists have contributed as significantly and diversely to national and international dance culture as Dame Beryl Grey. Superlative artist, enlightened company director, accurate reconstructor and praised writer, Dame Beryl joined Sadler’s Wells Ballet at 14, thus becoming the British equivalent of the equally famous Russian “baby ballerinas”. Her splendid technique, refined acting talent and charismatic presence made her a more than ideal interpreter of classical roles such as Odette/Odile – which she first danced at 15 – Giselle, the Lilac Fairy and Myrtha, as well as neo-classical ones, such as her memorable Black Queen in Ninette de Valois’ Checkmate and La Capricciosa in John Cranko’s Lady and the Fool. After 16 years with the company that eventually became internationally known as The Royal Ballet, Dame Beryl embarked on a successful international career, which took her to the Soviet Union, where she was the first Western artist to guest with Moscow’s Bolshoi Ballet. She also danced in China and in other former Soviet cities. Four years after her successful appearances in Peking and Shanghai, Dame Beryl became the artistic director of London Festival Ballet (later English National Ballet) in 1968. Under her guidance the Company rapidly acquired international repute and attracted a unique roster of dancers and choreographers. President of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing since 1991, Dame Beryl published two books, Red Curtain Up (1958) and Through the Bamboo Curtain (1965), based on her artistic experiences in the Soviet Union and China. Her stagings of Giselle for Western Theatre Ballet and The Sleeping Beauty for the Royal Swedish Ballet have won considerable acclaim. In 1988 she was made Dame of the Order of the British Empire.

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