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Oliviers 2017: Matthew Bourne – ‘Arts will work together regardless of Brexit’

Dancer Ashley Shaw, who appeared in The Red Shoes, and choreographer Matthew Bourne. Photo: Pamela Raith
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Matthew Bourne has expressed concern about the impact Brexit will have on the dance sector, but said the industry would be resolute in ensuring international collaboration continues.

The choreographer was speaking as he collected two Olivier awards – best theatre choreographer and best new dance production – for The Red Shoes.

He said he was proud of the state of dance in the UK at present, with “very exciting artistic directors at the top companies”, but added: “There are also things to worry about.”

“I was one of the last people to get local authority funding to train, in Waltham Forest, and that doesn’t happen now. The other thing is Brexit, which is a bit of an unknown at the moment but a worrying thing,” Bourne said.

“As artists we are collaborators, we want to work with each other. All those things are important to us. I think it would be difficult to find anyone who voted to leave within the arts.

“Maybe we’re worrying too much, and I’m sure we will find ways of making it work. The desire is there too much – both here and abroad – to work together. It’s not going to stop us but it might be a little bit more difficult financially, and allowing dancers to travel around to audition and work in other countries may be harder. It’s always a nice thing when you’ve got a mix of cultures in a company, and [keeping] that sort of diversity is a worry.”

Bourne also said he had been apprehensive about The Red Shoes and how it would be received by audiences, as it was a less familiar title than others he has choreographed.

“But we needn’t have worried. Their trust is there, and if they didn’t know [The Red Shoes] they went and found out about it and watched the film, which was great. We were ready to do lots more publicity and education on what it was and where it had come from but we didn’t need to in the end,” he said.

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