Robert Cohan, one of the founding fathers of British contemporary dance, has been recognised with the De Valois award for outstanding achievement in dance at the 13th Critics’ Circle Dance Awards.
The awards were held at The Place, in London, the building where Cohan and dance enthusiast Robin Howard brought contemporary dance into being in the UK. Pointing at the stage in front of him, Cohan remembered: “Down there was an empty, great hole”.
Cohan recalled arguing with De Valois herself when he and Howard asked her, at the Arts Council, for £2,000 to get started. He said: “I ended up shouting at her and saying – we are just trying to do what you did at Sadler’s Wells. We got the money.”
Together with Howard, Cohan established the London Contemporary Dance Theatre company and the London Contemporary Dance School, influencing such figures as Siobhan Davies, Darshan SIngh Bhuller and the Place’s current direct Kenneth Tharp.
Elsewhere at the awards, English National Ballet dancers Ksenia Ovsyanick and Zdenek Konvalina were rewarded with best female and best male performance (classical). Hip hop was well represented by Teneisha Bonner, outstanding modern performance (female) and Tommy Franzen, outstanding modern performance (male). Both awards were for work on ZooNation’s Some Like it Hip Hop.
The winners in full are:
Dancing Times award for best male dance – Akram Khan
Grishko award for best female dancer – Marianela Nunez
Stef Stefanou award for outstanding company – Royal Ballet Flanders
Best classical choreography – Arthur Pita for the Metamorphosis
Outstanding female performance (classical) – Ksenia Ovsyanick
Outstanding male performance (classical) – Zdenek Konvalina
Dancers Pro award for outstanding modern performance (female) – Teneisha Bonner
Dancers Pro award for outstanding modern performance (male) – Tommy Franzen
Grishko award for best independent company – Ballet Black
De Valois award for outstanding achievement – Robert Cohan
Dance UK industry award – Jeanette Siddall (founder of Big Dance and founding director of Dance UK )