Dancer valentino zuccheti kneels between two female dancers, with 6 male dancers standing behind them

Alumni winners at National Dance Awards 2022

Many congratulations to those of our alumni who took home awards at yesterday’s 2022 National Dance Awards. The awards were given in recognition of exceptional performances held from January to December 2021. The award ceremony was held at the Barbican and hosted by Begoñia Cao, former Principal with English National Ballet, and Giorgio Garrett, currently Artist with English National Ballet.

Best Male and Female Dancer

Edward Watson won the Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer, a fitting tribute following his retirement from The Royal Ballet. He thanked the directors, choreographers and all at The Royal Ballet ‘who gave him this amazing life.’ Watson gave his final performance in Wayne McGregor’s The Dante Project at the Royal Opera House in October 2021, after an illustrious 27-year career with the Company.

Best Female Dancer was awarded to Marianela Nuñez, also of The Royal Ballet, who thanked Royal Ballet Director Kevin O’Hare and the Company. Nuñez joined The Royal Ballet from The Royal Ballet School in 1998 and became Principal in 2002, aged just 20.

Best Classical Choreography and Best Dance Film

First Soloist of The Royal Ballet Valentino Zucchetti won Best Classical Choreography for his piece Anemoi, which premiered on the Royal Opera House stage in June 2021. The piece is set to Rachmaninov’s Symphony No. 2 and is named for and inspired by the Ancient Greek gods of the four winds. Zucchetti highlighted the challenges of bringing the work to the stage during COVID, calling his Royal Ballet colleagues ‘rock stars.’  Valentino is pictured above with Royal Ballet School Upper School students during rehearsals for his piece Playfully So, which was performed at our 2021 Summer Performances.

Scottish Ballet won Best Dance Film for Starstruck, which honours the choreographic brilliance of Gene Kelly. In the film, alumnus and Scottish Ballet Artistic Director Christopher Hampson reimagines Kelly’s ‘jazzy, joyful’ Pas de Dieux, which he was invited to choreograph for Paris Opera Ballet in 1960. The film was directed for the screen by Oscar Sansom in partnership with Forest of Black. Hampson was joined on stage to accept the award by Kelly’s widow, Patricia Ward Kelly, who collaborated with Hampson to create the film.

The National Dance Awards

The National Dance Awards are organised by the dance section of the Critics’ Circle, which brings together over 60 dance writers and critics, and are presented to celebrate Britain’s vibrant dance culture. They are the only awards given by the body of professional dance critics in the UK. The awards are now in their 22nd year.

The winners in full

De Valois Award: John Ashford

Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer: Edward Watson

Best Female Dancer: Marianela Nuñez

Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company: English National Ballet

Best Mid-Scale Company: Ballet Black

Best Independent Company: Yorke Dance Project

Best Classical Choreography: Valentino Zucchetti for Anemoi

Best Modern Choreography: Matthew Bourne for The Midnight Bell

Emerging Artist Award: Emily Suzuki

Outstanding Female Modern Performance: Michela Meazza as Miss Roach in The Midnight Bell

Outstanding Male Modern Performance: James Vu Anh Pham in Outwitting the Devil

Outstanding Female Classical Performance: Natalia Osipova in the title role of Giselle

Outstanding Male Classical Performance: Jeffrey Cirio in the title role of Creature

Outstanding Creative Contribution: Thomas Adès for The Dante Project

Best Dance Film: Scottish Ballet for Starstruck