Need something to celebrate on this cold Monday morning? Well, we have just the thing. Today, the Hackney-born, multi-award-winning, ridiculously prolific, and influential choreographer and director, Sir Matthew Bourne, is turning 60! Hard to believe, we know.
To mark this momentous occasion, we’re looking back at just a few of the highlights from his incredible career.
In 2016, Sir Matthew was knighted for his services to dance. In addition to garnering praise for Her Majesty The Queen, he received praise from his peers and admirers last year when he was awarded the Special Olivier Award for his extraordinary achievements in dance. To say they were well-deserved is an understatement considering the influence and impact he’s had on dance through the decades, and his importance in modern theatre is unquantifiable.
Through his tireless work, Sir Matthew has brought ballet into the 21st century and made it approachable to new audiences. As a young man, he was an eager theatre-goer watching from the gods. That experience coupled with him starting as a dancer himself led to his thoughtfulness towards his performers and audience which has made his work even more special.
In addition to these prestigious commendations, Sir Matthew has seven further Olivier Awards making him the holder of the most Olivier Awards ever (along with Dame Judy Dench), plus two Tony Awards and countless other accolades.
One of his stand-out shows which earned two Olivier Awards is The Red Shoes – a beautiful and dazzling show based on the classic Powell and Pressburger film which focuses on one girl’s obsession to be the greatest dancer in the world. It had its world premiere in 2016 and has enchanted the world ever since. It was so beloved, it returned to Sadler’s Wells last month to praise from critics and audiences alike.
Over the past 25 years, Sir Matthew has worked with musical theatre giant, Cameron Mackintosh. Mary Poppins is one such collaboration and has won the hearts of audiences all over the globe. Though a daunting task, Sir Matthew surpassed all expectations in bringing this beloved children’s story to life and his choreography for the original production won an Olivier Award in 2005 and earned a Tony nomination in 2007.
However, Sir Matthew Bourne’s legacy started a whole decade before in 1995 with his production of Swan Lake. Part of Bourne’s innovation was to make the swans – traditionally performed by female ballerinas – male, changing the dynamic of the story and injecting new life into the tale. With almost a quarter of a century under its belt, the standout, bold interpretation of Tchaikovsky’s masterpiece is often cited as the world’s longest-running ballet. And it’s still watched by thousands every year.
This, of course, only scratches the surface of the incredible work and joy Sir Matthew Bourne has brought to theatre and without him, who knows where we’d be right now. So from all of us here at Official London Theatre, we wish you a very happy birthday and we look forward to many more to come.