Theatre comes in many forms, but not many can be quite as universally poignant as the world-class dance productions performed in and around London.
And it’s the achievement of such sheer quality that the Olivier Awards with Mastercard will be celebrating as part of the grand ceremony on Sunday 9 April at the Royal Albert Hall.
For Best New Dance Production, Betroffenheit (by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young) at Sadler’s Wells, Blak Whyte Gray (by Boy Blue Entertainment at the Barbican Theatre), Giselle (by Akram Khan and English National Ballet at Sadler’s Wells) and My Mother, My Dog And CLOWNS! (by Michael Clark at the Barbican Theatre) are all in the running to take home the prestigious accolade.
Meanwhile, Outstanding Achievement In Dance will be contested by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (for their Dance Consortium presented London season), Luke Ahmet (for The Creation by Rambert) and English National Ballet (for expanding the variety of their repertoire with Akram Khan’s Giselle and She Said), all three nominees’ work being performed at Sadler’s Wells.
Such honours were first instigated at the Olivier Awards in 1977, the second year of the ceremony, where the first dance award, Outstanding Achievement of the Year in Ballet, was granted to London Festival Ballet’s Romeo And Juliet. The following year, a second category, Production of the Year in Ballet, was introduced and awarded to Robert Cohan, Artistic Director of the London Contemporary Dance Theatre, before being merged to form the Outstanding First Achievement of the Year in Opera or Ballet award in 1980.
The following year Outstanding First Achievement of the Year in Ballet became a separate category in its own right. However, the growth of appreciation for the range of London’s world-leading dance scene demanded the expansion of the category, and in 1983, Outstanding Individual Performance of the Year in a New Dance Production was awarded for the first time, with Alessandra Ferri (for the Royal Ballet’s Valley of Shadows) the inaugural recipient.
Finally, in 1986, the award became what we know it as now: Outstanding Achievement of the Year in Dance (renamed Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 1991). Moreover, in 1993, the Best New Dance Production award was introduced, completing the line-up of dance honours the Olivier Awards continue to bestow today.
Many of the Olivier Awards’ Special Award winners have included luminaries of dance, including Dame Ninette de Valois (in 1992), Sir Kenneth MacMillan (1993), Dame Monica Mason (2012), Gillian Lynne (2013) and Sylvie Guillem (2015), recognising the tremendous impact that the work of such individuals have had not only on dance in the capital, but also across London theatre as a whole.
We spoke to Alistair Spalding CBE, Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Sadler’s Wells, about how he’ll be celebrating its continuing achievements and recognition at the Olivier Awards ceremony on Sunday 9 April.
The awards, hosted by Jason Manford, will be broadcast in the UK and worldwide via ITV, Magic and Facebook. Scheduling will be announced shortly.