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Bald pates, taut thighs and six packs

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I went to the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards for 2012 this week. The bash was held at The Place’s Robin Howard Dance Theatre where the phrase “rubbing shoulders” were ne’er so apt. The bar was so packed I was rubbing all sorts with the great and good of the dance world – for all I know, Richard Alston’s bushy beard, Graham Watts’ lovely bald head Edward Watson’s lovely taut thighs, for example.

I haven’t attended one of these for a while. The last one I went to was in the Floral Hall of the Royal Opera House. Kaila-Rose was four months old, and I put her in her first tartan cocktail dress (with netting underskirt, and matching headband) and whisked her off on the tube. She met Angelina Ballerina and cried at the announcements – clearly she didn’t agree with the best dancers that year. She is, after all, a baby of strong opinion. Just like her mother.

So, some of my wishes for winners came true – others didn’t. We (the 60 members of the dance section of the Critics’ Circle) vote on the who’s who and what’s what that went on between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012.

For a full rundown, have a look here.

To be honest with you, I’m a bit over Akram Khan winning everything. I’m in this for the new blood, the Tommy Franzens, (he won outstanding modern performance in the male category, and you mark my words, he will become hot property before the year is out); and the Teneisha Bonners (outstanding modern performance in the female category). To be fair, the girl should have won for her six pack alone – it’s the eighth wonder of the western world.

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is also the name on everyone’s lips.

She won best classical choreography for A Streetcar Named Desire and I’m predicting she’s one to watch. (Obviously, she makes dance. I meant that in a ‘in-the-future’ kind of way).

My own personal prize for cutest speech was a toss up between Marinala Nunez (Best Female Dancer) who is just so gorgeous I wanted to take her home and do a crochet class with her, and Arthur Pita (Best Modern Choreography for The Metamorphosis), who, although he talked a lot about black vomit (gross) thanked his long suffering partner, Matthew Bourne, for putting up with him being so mental during the creative process. Bless.

My own personal thanks go to Gazza and Ken (Gary Avis and Kenneth Tharpe) for making the awards such a hilairefest, when they can be such a staid and boring affair. Their double act birthed the chortles like I’ve never seen in a roomful of critics. But in all seriousness, the standout moment of the awards was hearing Robert Cohan speak, as he received the De Valois Award For Outstanding Achievement.

I had tears in my eyes as the auditorium rose to a standing ovation. Je suis so thankful that I had the chance to hear this great and inspiring man speak at length about his transformation of the dance world, from setting up shop with Robin Howard, establishing London Contemporary Dance Theatre and London Contemporary Dance School to talking with De Valois herself. Having grown up with The Place (I took classes at the Young Place as a kid, and my first job in London was in the Artist Development office) I was both moved and inspired, hearing from the main man who made it all happen. It’s an incredible legacy that I’m proud to have had any part in at all.

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